Unfortunately, Annis was still with her partner, photographer Patrick Wiseman, at the time (whom she subsequently left to be with Ralph Fiennes), and the couple had three young children together, ‘so it had to be very clandestine,’ says Ian.
‘We weren’t together for very long and it eventually became public knowledge because the press got hold of it, so it was a very messy situation in the end.’‘I thought, “Wow, the Americans are much more interested in me”, so I stayed.’ He concedes that, ‘I’m pretty anonymous out here and I never had the kind of fame where women would chase me down the street, although there was a time on The Saint when I couldn’t go shopping or take my kids to theme parks.
'Emma was about 24 then, so they were adults, but with Kitty’s two boys [Sam’s now 34 and Lee 29], I was there all the time and helped bring them up, even though their father was always around and was always very nice to me.
In fact, it was my stepsons who encouraged me to take the part in my new film.
Not only did he meet his second wife, American actress Kitty Holcomb, here but it was she who persuaded him to give up the heavy drinking he’d turned to in England as the TV and acting work dried up and his first marriage to model Diane Hart disintegrated.‘I once said that if it hadn’t been for Kitty I’d have gone over the edge, and to a certain extent that’s true.
I’d been solitary for some time and when you live alone and there’s a certain history of alcoholism in your family... But I came out here and then worked consistently for about 12 years and it’s been great.
But it was never that difficult.‘My friend, actress Judy Geeson, had a shop in LA and she was shutting up one night when there was a tapping at the window and a voice asking, “Can we come in?
” It was Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt back when they were married.
‘But the head of publicity told me, “If we wanted another Roger Moore type, you’d be it, but we want another Sean Connery” and that’s where Tim Dalton came in.
I was enormously relieved, as I didn’t think I had the gravitas for it.
I think that I really need to be married, to have someone behind me giving me a bit of a shove, otherwise I’m inclined to just vegetate.’In particular, Kitty was instrumental in helping Ian stop drinking.