Sir Sean Connery passed away last week at the age of 90, and something that most of the obituaries, articles and social media reactions to his death have in common is the mention of James Bond. After all, as the original actor to portray 007 on film, it’s a role that naturally stuck to the star throughout his life. An unearthed interview from the 60s, however, reveals Connery’s private resentment towards his most famous character.
Veteran journalist Peter Bart shared extracts from an interview he conducted with him back in 1966 to Deadline. He describes the Scottish actor as “fiercely intense” and explains that when he met him, Connery was reluctant to play Bond ever again – though back then, he’d only portrayed the part four times, most recently in Thunderball.
The reason he was thinking of hanging up his tux for good, however, was because of his belief that the movies had been dumbed down and had become more “like comic strips” and all about selling merchandise.
“The Bond pictures have become like comic strips dependent on bigger and better gimmicks. That’s all that sustains them,” Connery said, ordering drinks for both of us. More exasperating, he said, was that, wherever he went he found himself surrounded by Bond licensed products — attaché cases, toys, even underwear. “There are even dolls with spikes that protrude from their shoes. It’s a lot of rubbish.”
When Bart asked him if he was going to return for a fifth effort, “a look of resignation” is said to have come upon Connery’s face, with the actor replying:
“The negotiations will be difficult. I am fighting for time as well as for money. A Bond picture takes six months. I want time to fit in other things that mean more to me.”
Bond fans will note how uncanny this unearthed Connery interview is to Daniel Craig’s own opinions about the franchise following his fourth outing, 2015’s Spectre. Craig infamously commented that he’d rather slash his own wrists than play 007 one more time. Of course, he changed his mind and eventually signed on to do No Time to Die, his final pic in the series. Likewise, Connery was convinced to return for You Only Live Twice before leaving again.
He was ultimately coaxed back for two more films after that as well – 1971’s Diamonds are Forever and 1983’s Never Say Never Again – so maybe history will repeat itself and Craig has actually got a couple more turns as James Bond to come in the future? Either way, it’s clear that playing one of the most iconic cinematic characters of all time is a double(oh)-edged sword.