Though Sir Sean Connery, who sadly died recently, may be most well-known for his iconic take on James Bond, the legendary actor's illustrious career was also defined by near-miss opportunities to play other huge characters. On top of playing the father of Indiana Jones, John Mason from The Rock and King Arthur, among many others, Connery also turned down some well-known smaller roles. He could have been Nigel Powers in Austin Powers in Goldmember, Tarzan in Tarzan the Magnificent, and Alan Trustman in the original The Thomas Crown Affair.And that's not the end of his career close-calls.
In 1962, Connery burst into the limelight with Dr. No, the first entry in Connery's highly successful portrayal of James Bond, Ian Fleming's fictional British spy. The Bond role propelled him through the 1960s and stalled in 1971, with Diamonds Are Forever. Connery returned briefly in 1983 for Never Say Never Again- a Thunderball remake.Connery took key roles throughout the 1980s and 1990s in films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for the Red October,The Rock, Dragonheart, and Entrapment. After2003's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, however, Sir Sean largely withdrew from acting - a surprising turn, considering that he was still considered an in-demand actor.
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Interviews with Connery and those close to him seem to suggest that the actor simply didn't feel the need to take additional roles. Although he was offered major roles in films like Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and Jurassic Park, Conneryoften rejected these due to lack of faith in the film's script, misgivings about the film's tone, or dissatisfaction with the proposed pay. All told, evidence seems to suggest that Connery was content with his definitive James Bond as well as his overall career when he withdrew from the limelight. Here's a rundown of some of the major Hollywood roles that Connery turned down, along with why he might've said no.
Gandalf in Lord of the Rings
In another universe, Sir Sean Connery might have donned a wizard's hat and taken Ian McKellen's most iconic role from 2001's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. A 2012 report claims Connery missed out on roughly $450 million,including a sizeable stake in the franchise's box-office draw when he passed on playing Gandalf, the wise wizard who helps hobbits Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) carry a magical ring into enemy territory. Why did Connery choose to pass on what might be the most important movie franchise of the early 2000s?
NME reports that Connery "never understood the script" for Lord of the Rings.Even after viewing the finished product, Connery claimed he couldn't make sense of the story, though he did praise McKellen's performance as Gandalf. Perhaps there were simply too many fantastic elements for Connery's taste, although this seems an odd qualm, given that Connery voiced a computer-generated, fire-breathing dragon in 1996'sDragonheart.
John Hammond in Jurassic Park
In Spielberg's groundbreaking 1993 hit Jurassic Park, Sir Richard Attenborough shines as the megalomaniacal, yet somehow endearing Scottish billionaire John Hammond. Using complicated genetic extraction techniques, Hammond brings extinct dinosaurs and prehistoric flora back to life, buttressing his accomplishments with the recurring claim that he has "spared no expense." Sir Attenborough offers a wonderful complication to the standard cynical, corrupted billionaire trope, and this role, too, was originally offered to Sir Sean.
Related: Sean Connery: A Retrospective On The Legend's Best Roles
With his lush Scottish accent and trademark smirk, Connery would've beenperfect for the highly charismatic John Hammond, giving Connery access to a film franchise so successful that nearly 30 years later, there are still new Jurassic Park films on the horizon. However, this was a case where Connery's asking price was the kind of expense the film's producers felt they couldn't spare, and the part went to Attenborough.
Morpheus/The Architect in The Matrix Franchise
It's difficult to imagine anyone outperforming Laurence Fishburne as the wise and soft-spoken Morpheus from The Matrix, as he guided Keanu Reeves's Neothrough the realization that his entire life has been a computer simulation designed by hostile AI overlords. If passing on Morpheus wasn't enough, Connery also reportedly passed a second time when he was offered the role of The Architect inThe Matrix Revolutions.
Here again, SirSean passed on a role that would have netted him millions and established him as a major player in an important franchise. Complex reports that, much in keeping with The Lord of the Rings, Connery simply "didn't understand" the film's overall narrative. It's difficult to criticize Connery; although The Matrix's storyline is fairly taut, it is complicated, and that complication reaches absurd proportions in The Matrix Revolutions. Australian actor/director Helmut Bakaitis does an admirable job playing The Architect, but viewers have complained that his dialogue reads like it was written by an overcaffeinated philosophy major, and it seems unlikely that even the great Sir Sean could've saved the role.
Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter
In the wildly popular Harry Potter films, Albus Dumbledore, of course, serves as the headmaster of magical school Hogwarts and though the role was brought to masterful light by Richard Harris in 2001's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the actor's unexpected death caused the role to be recast for subsequent films, with Michael Gambon filling in. Dumbledore is yet another role that was first offered to Sir Sean.
Related: Goldfinger Is the Most Important Bond Movie: Everything It Introduced
Connery's reluctance to play the Harry Potter headmaster stemmed mostly from the film's content, which was too light and fantastical for his taste. The Scottish actor claimed that he had no “interest in joining a children’s movie about wizards.” Clearly, Connery turned down a number of key roles on account of whimsical, far-flung narratives that he either couldn't follow or didn't care to follow. Had he chosen to, Connery likely would've made a fine Dumbledore, but as he proved by his declining Gandalf, wizardroles were clearly not for him.
Rick Deckard in Blade Runner
When Ridley Scott set out to directhis adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?many prominent actors were considered for the lead role of Rick Deckard. Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman,and Clint Eastwood were all in talks for the role of the android hunting anti-hero, as was Sir Sean, who turned it down, allowing Harrison Ford to take the part and solidify his status as a leading man.
Blade Runnerreceived a somewhat lukewarm reception at the box office when it opened in 1982. Reviews were mixed, as some critics were supportive while others complainedof the film's slow pace. Nonetheless, Blade Runnerwent on to become a cult classic, with some hailing it as one of the finest sci-fi movies ever made. It's unclear why, exactly, Connery chose to pass on Rick Deckard. Judging from his criticisms of other refused roles, it seems likely that Connery either found the film's arc too slow or too convoluted. Part of Blade Runner's appeal is the ambivalent ending, which implies that Harrison Ford's Deckard might be a replicant himself. Ford's very conservative acting enhances the ambiguity; one could argue that Sir Sean's more expressive approach to acting might have humanized Deckard too much.
Simon Gruber in Die Hard with a Vengeance
Director John McTiernan's top choice for German supervillain Simon Gruber in his Die Hard sequel was Sean Connery. Unfortunately, Gruber was a little too dastardly for Connery's liking. Connery declined the offer, which ended up going to Jeremy Irons. Like Alan Rickman's masterful Hans Gruber inDie Hard, Irons' Simon Gruber in Die Hard with a Vengeance strikes a stunning balance between cruelty and sophistication.
It's tempting to imagine how Connery might approach a villain like Simon Gruber. On the one hand, Connery proves his range in movies like The Rock, in which he plays John Mason, a far more duplicitous and fallible character than that of James Bond. On the other hand, it's possible that Connery also recognized that his strongest onscreen assets were charm and charisma - qualities that might not serve an inveterate villain like Gruber.
The world is a lesser place without Sir Sean Connery's winning blend of charm, smarm, and sophistication. Perhaps one of the reasons Connery's roles mean so much to his viewers is that he chose not to produce an inexhaustible supply of material. Actors like Christopher Walken make a concerted effort to not turn down work, as they feel that all actors who are offered work should be grateful. Although this position is admirable, there's also a certain wisdom inConnery's willingness to push back from the proverbial table and take satisfaction in an already-stellar career. Connery missed out on several massive paydays as well as some truly memorable roles, but one could also argue that his highly selective nature makes iconic characters like James Bond shine all the brighter.
What role did Sean Connery turned down? ›
Sean Connery's worst decision: He turned down a role in Lord of the Rings and lost 400 million dollars. Celebrities.What film roles were turned down by Sean Connery and Patrick Stewart? ›
Sean Connery Also Turned Down Gandalf
The casting team also offered the part to the late James Bond star Sean Connery and Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart. According to Independent, Connery turned down The Lord of the Rings because he "just didn't get it." Stewart also rejected the film for the same reason as Connery.
Heck, he could've played a different character in the Matrix sequel ... if only the former James Bond had understood the script. Entertainment Weekly cites The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen producer Don Murphy as sharing this quote from Connery: "I was offered 'The Matrix' — twice — and I turned it down because I ...Was Sean Connery asked to be in Skyfall? ›
Mendes stated in interviews around the time of Skyfall's release that he dropped the idea of Connery cameoing pretty quickly. However, the same source claims that Connery actually shot rehearsal footage. However, his ill health meant that he could no longer be involved.Who turned down the role of James Bond? ›
Hugh Jackman's name has been attached to Bond for years, especially as he carved a name out for himself in the early 2000s as a beefcake-to-watch playing Wolverine. But it was Wolverine, in fact, that led him ultimately to turn down the role of 007 when it went through its last round of casting for Casino Royale.Who was originally supposed to play Gandalf? ›
4 Sir Patrick Stewart — Gandalf
While it is quite impossible to picture anybody apart from Ian McKellen playing Gandalf, McKellen's frequent co-star and long-time friend Patrick Stewart was Jackson's first choice for the role.
Paul Broadhead appears as Mayor Dooley in the town hall scene and their mother and two brothers play extras. John Travolta was offered the role of Ren McCormack, but turned it down.What did Kevin Costner say about Sean Connery? ›
He was the biggest star that I ever worked with and I will be forever grateful to be linked with him on film. Sean Connery was a man's man who had an amazing career.”What movie roles did Denzel Washington turn down? ›
Asked in 2012 if there were roles he turned down that he should have taken, Washington answered quickly: “Se7en and Michael Clayton”.Did Sean Connery like Catherine Zeta? ›
“I had such a wonderful relationship with Sean Connery — we did a movie called Entrapment years ago — and he was like my elder brother, my dad, my support. I really loved him.” The Oscar winner told InStyle: “I am a Bond fanatic and he said to me once, 'You would have made a great Bond, girl'.
Did Sean Connery refuse to be knighted? ›
He had been nominated for a knighthood in 1997 and 1998, but these nominations were reportedly vetoed by Donald Dewar owing to Connery's political views.Was Sean Connery offered the role of Morpheus? ›
Connery was actually offered not one, but two roles in the epic science fiction movies. The veteran actor was initially scouted out to take on the role of Morpheus. Yes, you did read that right.What did Ian Fleming think of Sean Connery? ›
Connery described Fleming as a “snob”, claiming he got the role almost by default, because everyone the author wanted was ruled out for one reason or another! Thankfully for the viewing public, Fleming couldn't have been more wrong and Connery has gone down in history as the most famous and best-loved Bond of all time.Did Kevin Costner and Sean Connery get along? ›
The bond with Connery, in particular, "was very real" according to Costner, and that connection is evident in one of the film's most pivotal scenes when Connery's hard-edged Irish cop, Jim Malone, gives Ness a lesson in Chicago-style justice.Did Sean Connery and Roger Moore get along? ›
Acutely aware that the press were keen to hype up the two productions as a huge 'Battle of the Bonds', Connery and Moore agreed between themselves not to play that game or let any rivalry become 'personal'. The two actors made it very clear in interviews that they remained good friends and respected each other's work.Who was the original choice for James Bond? ›
Turned down in favour of Connery (later played Bond in the 1967 parody Casino Royale) (Fleming's personal choice). Ian Fleming's first choice for the role, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from getting it. Feared the role would harm his career.What roles did Hugh Jackman turn down? ›
Hugh Jackman turned down role of James Bond in 2006's 'Casino Royale' Hugh Jackman has revealed that he was initially offered the role of James Bond in 2006's Casino Royale, but turned down the part due to the demands of playing Wolverine in the X-Men franchise.Who was the most beautiful Bond girl? ›
Key Data: The Bond girl that tops most lists is by far the hottest. From the very first Bond adventure, the template was set. Ursula Andress was the standard by which all followers had to be measured, and, in terms of pure beauty and sexiness, her Honey Ryder is still the sweetest Bond girl ever.
A producer of Lord of the Rings has said that Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf because he “just didn't get it”. The role in Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning fantasy trilogy ultimately went to Ian McKellen.Who else auditioned for Gandalf? ›
"So I just let it be," Astin said. The 92-year-old Astin, who starred on the original Addams Family as Gomez, is just the latest big-name actor to have been in the mix for the role of Gandalf. Sean Connery, Patrick Stewart, Sam Neill, and Christopher Plummer were all said to be in the running for the part.
Who turned down a role in speed? ›
Why Halle Berry turned down the chance to be in 'Speed' with Keanu Reeves. Starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, 1994's Speed is one of the most iconic films of the decade. However, it could have been very different, with Halle Berry once in the frame for the character of Annie Porter, Bullock's character.Who turned down Forrest Gump? ›
Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his portrayal of Forrest Gump, and the role remains one of his most memorable to this day. However, John Travolta was actually the studio's first choice for the part. He turned it down in favor of playing Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.What movies did Julia Roberts turn down? ›
Julia Roberts in The Blind Side
Reportedly Roberts wasn't interested in The Blind Side's script and passed, with the part going to Sandra Bullock (who later won an Oscar for her performance).
According to Lee Pfeiffer's "The Films of Harrison Ford," the star found the rejuvenated Connery to be an utter delight on set. "Sean is, of course, such a terribly experienced actor," he said. "And that made it interesting to work with him. He's an awfully nice guy, too.Did Sean Connery and Robert Shaw get along? ›
“Of course, you'll remember he came to a sticky end, at the hands of James Bond, but Shaw told me that he and Sean Connery were very close friends, and he had a great admiration for Connery's ability as an actor.”What did Michael Caine say about Sean Connery? ›
Michael Caine has paid tribute to Sean Connery following his death aged 90, calling him: "A great star, brilliant actor and a wonderful friend."What role did Pacino turn down? ›
As well as Han Solo, Pacino rejected an offer to play Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. He wasn't the only one. Dustin Hoffman also turned down the role, later admitting that he did so because he thought Scorsese must be some sort of psychopath.What movies did John Travolta turned down? ›
Travolta turned down the leads for Days of Heaven (1978), American Gigolo (1980), An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Chicago (2002), all of which went to Gere.What role did Will Smith turn down? ›
During his takeover of Wednesday's Red Table Talk episode on Facebook Watch, Smith spoke to his children—Trey, Jaden, and Willow Smith—about his decision to turn down the eponymous role in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. “I was going to do Django,” he recalled.Who was the most liked James Bond? ›
The findings reveal that Sean Connery was the favorite among survey respondents, with 61 percent stating that they had a very favorable impression of the actor's interpretation of James Bond. A total of 51 percent said the same about Pierce Brosnan.
Who was Ian Fleming's favorite Bond actor? ›
In his excellent book The Battle For Bond, Robert Sellers uncovered a letter from Fleming where he notes, "Richard Burton would be by far the best James Bond!" There is a reason why so many different actors, like Richard Todd and Cary Grant, have been labeled as "Ian Fleming's first choice to play James Bond," as it ...Who is the most accurate Bond actor? ›
Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)
His films "The Living Daylights" (1987) and "Licence to Kill" (1989) are two of the most beloved Bond films and Dalton's dark and often serious take on 007 is widely considered the most accurate interpretation of Ian Fleming's books.
Harrison Ford is reminiscing on the filming of Indiana Jones as he honors the late actor and co-star Sean Connery. The 90-year-old star portrayed Ford's father in the third installment of the popular franchise, however the duo were only 12 years apart in age and became great friends during the production of the movie.What did Harrison Ford say about Sean Connery's death? ›
"God we had fun - if he's in heaven, I hope they have golf courses. Rest in peace, dear friend," he added. Ford recalled the "pleasure" of taking Sir Sean "for a ride in the sidecar of a Russian motorcycle, bouncing along a bumpy, twisty mountain trail and getting to watch him squirm".Did Sean Connery offer Harry Potter? ›
While almost everyone knows about the positive response to the flick and its rich legacy, a section of the audience may not be aware of the fact that Scottish legend Sean Connery was offered a role in the movie but turned it down.Who was originally offered the role in The Matrix? ›
However, Reeves wasn't the studio's initial decision to play "the One," as the Wachowskis first proposed the character to Will Smith. Unclear on the story, the movie star turned it down in favor of 'Wild Wild West,' which, by difference, didn't do very well upon release. Your browser can't play this video.Was Hugh Jackman offered James Bond role? ›
Hugh Jackman has claimed he was offered and turned down the role of James Bond before Casino Royale. The X-Men star says he was offered the role thanks to the popularity of him playing Wolverine but he 'didn't want to do the same things' so turned it down.Who woke up Morpheus in The Matrix? ›
Neo and Trinity, however, reenter the Matrix to make a daring and successful rescue of Morpheus. Neo saves Trinity from a helicopter crash, confirming Morpheus' belief that Neo is indeed the One.What did Sean Connery think of Daniel Craig? ›
Connery responded to the criticisms that Craig was "too blonde" to play the iconic spy. He said: "I think Daniel Craig is a terrific choice." The actor then spoke about the change in direction for the series, which went a little more rough-and-tumble than previous iterations of 007.Why did Ian Fleming not like Sean Connery? ›
According to the writer, Connery did not fit his mental description of Bond. Fleming admitted: “He's not what I envisioned of James Bond looks. I'm looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt man.” However, he eventually changed his mind when he saw Connery in action and realised he was born for this role.
What did Sean Connery think of playing James Bond? ›
“I've always hated that damn James Bond, I'd like to kill him,” Sean Connery once famously stated.Did Sean Connery enjoy making the rock? ›
Sean Connery was looking for a blockbuster movie to make in the mid-1990s – but he wasn't too happy when he first got the script to The Rock. Sean Connery wasn't happy.Was Sean Connery asked to play Gandalf? ›
Sean Connery, who died in 2020, was the first choice to play Gandalf in Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy. The Hollywood star featured in several films in the James Bond saga as well as titles that are part of the history of cinema.Did Sean Connery like Daniel Craig as Bond? ›
When Connery was quizzed over Craig's hair colour, he replied: "I think Daniel Craig is a terrific choice." He then added: "I think they're going back to a more realistic type of Bond movie as I don't think they could have gone much further with the special effects."How much older was Sean Connery than Harrison Ford? ›
In "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," Sean Connery played Harrison Ford's father. When the film was released in May 1986, Connery was 58 and Ford was 46, leaving a mere 12-year gap between the on-screen father and son.Did Sean Connery ever work with Clint Eastwood? ›
However, Sir Sean and Eastwood never worked together on a movie.Did Sean Connery ever change his accent? ›
At the launch of his autobiography, Being A Scot, at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2008 Connery, 83, himself revealed that he was urged as a young actor by his friend Robert Henderson to drop his Edinburgh lilt.Was Sean Connery asked to be in Harry Potter? ›
As incredible as it is that Connery passed on all those movies, the fact that he turned down another massive franchise is even more mind-blowing. According to reports, Connery was asked to star in the Harry Potter franchise as Albus Dumbledore.What was Sean Connery's favorite role? ›
Ironically enough, Connery's favorite film isn't Goldfinger – heck, it isn't even a James Bond movie at all. That honor goes to 1975's The Man Who Would Be King, a 19th-century-set adventure flick about two former soldiers who've gone rogue after their stints as non-commissioned British Army officers.Who was Sean Connery best friend? ›
Michael Caine (who co-starred with Connery in The Man Who Would Be King in 1975) was among Connery's closest friends.
Did Sean Connery like Roger Moore? ›
Acutely aware that the press were keen to hype up the two productions as a huge 'Battle of the Bonds', Connery and Moore agreed between themselves not to play that game or let any rivalry become 'personal'. The two actors made it very clear in interviews that they remained good friends and respected each other's work.Which Bond movie did Sean Connery like best? ›
From Russia With Love (1963)
We are aware a case can be made for From Russia With Love being the finest Bond movie ever produced. No less than Connery has made that argument, with the actor citing his second outing as his favorite on multiple occasions.
Jim Carrey's three favourite films:
The Cable Guy (Ben Stiller, 1996) Ave Ventura: Pet Detective (Tom Shadyac, 1994) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)