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Getting too old to play James Bond was actually one of the best things to happen to Roger Moore's career.

The 68-year-old actor last played Agent 007 in 1985's "A View to a Kill," and his actual big-screen appearances have been limited since then, both by choice and because casting directors had locked him into the James Bond-hero mold.Moore did resurface this year onscreen, playing the pirate leader Lord Dobbs in Jean-Claude Van Damme's "The Quest." He is also involved in several service organizations, including Kiwanis International and UNICEF.

Appearing at the Kiwanis International Convention, held at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Moore said that he has managed to turn aging into a positive.

" was actually a good thing for me. The producers had a hard time finding someone my age who actually looked like they could knock me down," he said.

That has allowed him to select roles he really wanted to play and projects he was enthusiastic about, he said.

"For years I was pigeonholed and couldn't find character parts, which is what I really wanted to do. Character roles are more realistic and they are more challenging for an actor."

He said he believes audiences will now accept him as a villain or in a supporting role, which may not have been possible when he was still playing James Bond.

"It's almost like I have a second career as a film actor, and that is very exciting."

What also excites Moore is the opportunity to travel as a UNICEF international ambassador. Moore has been educating people around the world about iodine deficiency disorders, which can cause brain damage and mental disabilities.

"My being a celebrity attracts attention to the problem, but I can also travel to Third World countries, where this is happening, and they don't know who I am," he said. "They only know that I care about their plight."

According to Moore, iodine deficiencies threaten more than one-third of the world's population but can be easily prevented. At the convention, Kiwanis International pledged $75 million to eliminate IDD by the year 2000.

Moore said he began his charitable efforts after he met Audrey Hepburn shortly before her death.

"She was a wonderful person, who is much-missed," he said.

Of course, Moore is still grateful for the opportunity he had to play James Bond. The seven Bond films he starred in were re-released on video last year and are selling well.

"I know the IRS is as interested as I am in how these films continue to do," he said. "So for that reason I won't say what percentage of the sales I am receiving."

Also, one of his first roles, that of Leslie Charteris' "The Saint," for television, is getting new life. A new movie version, with Val Kilmer playing the suave adventurer, Simon Templar, is under way. Though Moore hasn't had much in the way of creative input, he was able to talk the producers into getting some from Charteris.

"I told them if they were getting to do it, then do it right, and who better than the creator? It should be great," he said.