Sam: In 1973 you went to Hong Kong to see Bruce Lee. What were the circumstances that lead to you making this trip?
George: First off, all it was was money. I couldn’t get a job in the movies because Broccoli told everyone that I was under contract to him and I had never signed a contract. Never. But they told everyone and I couldn’t get a job.
Sam: Where they trying to blackball your career?
George: Oh, absolutely!
Sam: Why would they do that?
George: Because they didn’t’ like that I turned down their Bond movies. That’s the way life works. So I went sailing for fifteen months to get away from the media and the people. I was confused. But then I ran out of money. So I heard about this Bruce Lee guy, and everybody was telling me he was the big thing, so I went to Hong Kong to see Bruce. I went to Singapore first. The movies were distributed out of Singapore and I figured that’s where he was so I took a charter flight out there. I had no money. None. I was literally on my last few bucks, and I had a girl who was eight months pregnant, who would later become my first wife, so I went to Hong Kong to meet Bruce Lee and he didn’t want to see me. So I was waiting at a bus stop in Hong Kong, I had no money, and Bruce Lee pulled up, gave me a ride, we liked each other and he gave me ten grand.
Sam: Just like that?
George: Just like that. He knew I didn’t have any money because I was at a bus stop so he said “You have no money. Here’s ten grand. Get yourself a suit.” He actually opened a bank account for me. He went to the bank, opened a bank account for me, bought me a suit, and then he died on me.
Sam: Didn’t he die a few days after you met him?
George: I was there for about three or four days and we were together day and night. He would call me at three o’clock in the morning with ideas for the movie we were going to do. It was funny. The phone would be ringing, I’d wake up and pick it up and Bruce would say “Buh buh buh…what do you think of that idea? Call me back” and he’d hang up. I’d be like “Fuck. It’s three o’clock in the morning!” but that was Bruce. I had lunch with him the day he died. He said he had a headache. Next thing I knew I was with Bruce’s producer Raymond Chow and we were waiting for Bruce to come to dinner and he hadn’t come. I said to Raymond “Give me his wife’s number.” Raymond said “He’s not with his wife, he’s with his girlfriend.” I said “Well give me her number” and he did and I called her and she said that Bruce was sleeping and she couldn’t wake him up. I said “I’ll call you back in five minutes and if he’s not awake I’m calling an ambulance.” So I called back and she said “I just called an ambulance.” Then, when I got back to the hotel the phone was ringing. I got back to my room and it was the press. They said “Bruce Lee’s dead. What do you think?” That was it. I stayed there for the funeral.
Sam: You did make a few films in Hong Kong.
George: Yeah. I had the ten grand and Raymond Chow rang me up when I got back to London and he wanted to know what I did with the money. I said “What do you mean?” He said “That was my money Bruce gave you.” I said “Oh.” He said “I want you to do a movie for me, or give back the money.” I didn’t have the money so I said I’d do a movie for him, but I said, “But I don’t know Kung Fu. I know Judo, I know a bit of boxing, but I don’t know Kung Fu.” He said “I’ll send a guy out to train you,” and he did. This guy came out to my house every day for three months teaching me high kicks and all that kind of thing. He brought a whole team of guys out to fight with me and we put all the pads on and went for it. He really worked me over. He stretched muscles in my body that I never knew I had. That was fun.
Sam: Can you still do any martial arts?
George: No. I haven’t tried.
Sam: How many films did you do for Raymond Chow?
George: I did three. I could have stayed out there forever but I said that [the third film] was the last one. I said that that’s the last one after the first one, but then I did the second one and the third one. I needed the money. The western world wasn’t hiring me so I had to do them. I had no choice. Until I disappeared and went out of favour Broccoli kept the pressure on me.
Good article here: The Hong Kong Connection