Michael Bay admits he was scared to direct Sean Connery in ‘The Rock’

In a shocking turn of events, Ambulance currently ranks as the single best-reviewed movie of Michael Bay’s entire career on Rotten Tomatoes, but a solid 69% score couldn’t prevent it from scoring the worst opening weekend of the filmmaker’s time in the industry.

To take the top spot, the fast-paced $40 million thriller dislodged The Rock, which is widely and very much deservedly lauded as one of the greatest action blockbusters ever made. Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage make for a wonderful double act as they break into Alcatraz to stop a rogue band of domestic terrorists, but Bay was nervous about giving direction to the legendary James Bond actor.

Speaking to Collider, the brains behind Bad Boys and Armageddon admitted he was scared when it came to telling Connery how to perform a scene as John Mason, especially when Bay was still in his early 30s at the time, and the suave Scotsman had been making movies for longer than he’d been alive.

“Okay, let me explain the very first day working with Sean Connery. I’m still a kid. Sean’s done 75 movies. I’ve done, this was my second. We’re doing the interrogation scene, with his long gray hair and the beard. I was so scared to give him his first direction. So we do one take. All right, let’s do it again. Do a second take. I’m like, oh my God, I got to give him some direction right now. “Um, Sean, can you just say that less charming?”. He goes, “Sure boy. Sure boy.” So my name on the set was Boy.

And he’s a director eater. He hates directors. For some reason, I remember I was down on my knees. Effects were not that good during The Rock at that time. I wanted to be a magician. I real didn’t make that much money. I knew I would never beat David Copperfield, but I did magic for birthdays when I was a kid. Okay. But I had a big quarter, a large sized quarter. And I put a wire in it, a steel bar and I would spin it towards a camera. So it looks like, there’s a scene where he takes a quarter, it flips on the table, and that’s the thing that he gets out of his handcuffs. He kind of hits his chair and he dents it, and he gets out of his handcuffs.

So I was spinning this quarter, I’m down there, I’m doing it myself. Sean Connery’s looking at me and he’s got this wry smile. He was a tough love guy, but he liked me. I learned so much from that guy. And he really, really taught me a lot. He was a true, true movie star, and a consummate worker, and just his work ethic. I was very sad when he passed away. So I put The Rock line in this movie because of that.

The Rock is one of Connery’s best late-career performances, proving he can still kick ass and drop a one-liner with the best of them. As it transpired, Bay managed to get the best out of the iconic star, despite his initial trepidation.