Julien Neaves, Editor
One week ago legendary actor Sir Thomas Sean Connery passed away at the age of 90. The news hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt like a kindly uncle had died. I had seen so many of his films and followed his career for so long that I just had to do a tribute article. But just one article seemed insufficient for the magnitude of the man, so I will be doing four articles, one for each Saturday in November.
Now everyone knows (or should know) Connery for being the first actor to play iconic super spy James Bond 007 on the big screen (Barry Nelson played him first onscreen in 1954 in a television adaptation of Casino Royale). But in his almost 60-year film career he has turned down roles in a several massive genre franchises, many times because he could not understand the script. For this first article in my four-part Connery tribute series I will be looking at seven franchises the actor passed on. Sure there are several articles listing these roles but I could find few actually considering him in them. And I like to go the extra mile for you RMR readers. Let’s get to it!
#7 Austin Powers
The Austin Powers franchise is primarily a parody of the Bond series, so it makes sense to have the first Bond play Austin’s father. Connery was never known for comedy, though he always brought a certain dry wit to his roles. In this case, however, I think Michael Caine was the better actor to play Nigel Powers as he really nailed the comedic timing and one liners. And casting Connery may have been a bit too much on the nose.
#6 Blade Runner
Imagine instead of Harrison Ford as replicant hunter Rick Deckard in Blade Runner we had Sean Connery? He was about 12 years Ford’s senior so it would have been an older, more weathered Deckard, but I could see it. And seven years later Connery would play Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. So he had Junior at 12? Imma just leave that one alone.
#5 Harry Potter
Full confession: I have never seen any of the Harry Potter films. Don’t look at me like that. They’re just not my bag, baby. Anywho Connery was reportedly up for the role of wise Hogwarts headmaster and Harry mentor Professor Albus Dumbledore. And would Connery have been more magical in the role than Richard Harris or Michael Gambon? As I said, I ain’t seen it! You all can discuss it amongst yourselves in the comments. I have done my due diligence. Moving on.
#4 Jurassic Park
Welcome to Jurassic Park sonny! Before late Baron Richard Attenborough was cast as avuncular millionaire dinosaur park owner Dr John Hammond, Connery was up for consideration. Yeah, not sure if I really see this one. Attenborough had this very warm and inviting sensibility. Like a Santa Claus teddy bear. Connery more seems like the cheeky uncle who would sneak you your first beer.
#3 The Matrix
Connery was up for not one but two roles in seminal Sci Fi action franchise The Matrix. Firstly he was up for sage human resistance leader Morpheus, a role which went to Laurence Fishburne. Not sure if Connery would have been able to do the fight scenes (he would have pushing 70 at the time) without extensive CGI and/or a stunt double. And while he could rock a bow tie, I don’t think he could rocked a no-handle shades like Fishburne did.
Connery was also up for the role of the verbose Architect in the Matrix sequel, and this one eventually went to Australian actor Helmut Bakaitis (yeah, I never knew his name either). Now this casting news made a bit more sense than Morpheus. But you know how I mentioned Connery turned down some roles because he couldn’t understand the script? Well, nobody understood what the hell the Architect was prattling on about. So yeah, I can’t blame him for slow-motion dodging this role.
#2 Star Trek
I am a hardcore Trekkie but even I didn’t know Connery was up for the role of Spock’s fanatical half-brother Sybok in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He couldn’t take the role, however, as he was busy with the above-mentioned The Last Crusade. They still paid tribute to him by naming the mythical planet Sha Ka Ree in his honour. Get it? Sha Ka Ree? Sean Connery? You get it. The role went to Laurence Luckinbill, who was decent enough. But I think Connery would have been fantastic as the charismatic, larger-than-life sort-of antagonist. The William Shatner-directed Trek movie was a big old mess though (you can read my review here) and I doubt if even an outstanding performance by Connery could have saved it.
#1 The Lord of the Rings
And we close off this list with the biggest fantasy franchise after Harry Potter – The Lord of the Rings. Connery was famously asked to play wise wizard Gandalf the Grey but turned it down, again because he couldn’t understand the script. Sir Ian McKellen took the iconic role and it has become his most famous. Now I adored McKellen as Gandalf but I am also curious to see what a Connery Gandalf would have looked like. I think he would have been pretty great, and would have brought a wonderful gravitas and presence to his portrayal. But c’est la vie.
So that’s my list. Which of these roles would you have liked to have seen Connery in? For my ranking of all six Bond actors you can click here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.