Sir Sean Connery

1. – Michael Caine, How To Murder A Rich Uncle, 1957.    First meeting of future British superstars – in a West London studio while waiting to test as an  Irish gangster. Caine won – and lost. Director (and star) Nigel Patrick cut the 10-minute, 12-line role to nothing. And Mike loved reminding their producer how he had turned Sean down.  The producer was …  Cubby Broccoli, the Big Daddy of the Bond movies.

2. – Cürt Jurgens, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, 1957.    Ingrid Bergman’s  real missionary become involved (untrue) with a Chinese Army officer.  So who does US director Mark Robson look at?  The Scottish Connery and the German Jürgens. Accents are accents! The Connery test was seen in same Fox studio’s Hollywood Screen Tests: Take 1, 1999.   “For awhile, I was too big, or too square… whatever. I just couldn’t fit the parts they wanted to fill.”

3. – Roger Moore, Maverick, TV, 1959-1961.     Another hero offered first to Sean…  Moore was told that  he was not replacing the original star, but found James Garner’s name inside all his costumes. Garner was Bret in  60 episodes,  Jack Kelly was Bart  for  83,  Moore became Beau(regard) for 16, and Robert Colbert was Brent for the  final three shows. And the next Pub Quiz question is…

4. –  Jock Mahoney, Tarzan The Magnificent, 1960.
Sean had been was paid $5,600 for his villain in Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, 1959.  When producer Sy Weintraub asked him to play in the next Tarzan movie, he said: “I can’t because two fellas took an option on me for some spy picture…   But I’ll be in your next.”     He wasn’t. The spy picture was Dr No,    1962. His replacement in the jungle was  ex-Tarzan Mahoney.  Opposite the new ape-man, Gordon Scott.

5. –  Dean Stockwell, Sons and Lovers, 1960.      Keeping his own casting to himself, director Jack Cardiff dutifully tested several unsuitable actors suggested by Robert Goldstein, London’s  Fox chief. And talked them all out of his  film.

6. –   Raf Vallone, El Cid, 1961.       Preferred “£25 a week and no expenses” for Pirandello’s Naked on-stage at Oxford with his then-wife Diane Cilento, finally over two years of tuberculosis.

7. –  Richard Harris, This Sporting Life, 1962.   Poor Connery was elbowed because he didn’t look like an aggresive rugby player (so why ask for him?). Albert Finney simply passed: he did not like the look of the script. Harris actually played rugby and made a perfect Frank Machin – Best Actor at Cannes 1963, Oscar-nominated 1964, and rapidly into Hollywood (and Antonioni) films because of it.

8. – Rod Taylor, The Birds, 1962. The word must have been out fast about Connery for Alfred Hitchcock to consider the largey unknown Scot for his new hero. Or, having been sounded out by producer Cubby Broccoli about making the first Bond film, Hitch simply understood the future importance of whoever was  chosen for 007. Either way, it would have been tight fit. Dr No finished shooting on March 30. The Birds flew from March 5.  Hitch also mulled over Cary Grant and Farley Granger. Taylor was supposedly given a four-film contract, co-star Tippi Hedren had a more believable seven-year deal.  And Hitch, of course, starred Connery in Marniewith Hedren from November 26, 1963.

9.  –   Alfred Lynch, West 11, 1963.        “We did not test Sean Connery,” new director Michael Winner  told me in London.  “I suggested him for the part and the producer said he was a B picture actor and wouldn’t have him.” Winner did test Julie Christie – same reaction from a producer  who must be named. Daniel M  Angel.

10 – Paul Newman, What A Way To Go!, 1963.  When Sean was a potential Taylo, Ursula Andress was the first co-star thought of producer Arthur P Jacobs. It’s cashing in on the casting risks taken by others


11 – Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music, 1964.    
Shooting started on my birthday, March 26.   Although everyone thought it too saccharine to bother with. Certainly, Germany’s Oskar Werner refused yop have anything to do with such a soft treatment of Nazis was way too soft – a match for The Young Lions! “Yul Brynner was one of several people wanting to be The  Captain,” recalled director Robert Wise.  “I told  his agent his  name  would  be at the bottom of my list. He’d have been better on the other side!” Driven to drink by it all, Plummer hated everything. The film  – he called it S&M or The Sound of Mucus.  The co-star –  working with  Julie Andrews  (or Ms Disney as he called her)  – was akin to “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.”   So maybe Brynner, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Bing Crosby, Peter Finch, Rex Harrison, Walter Matthau (!) and Maximilian Schell were lucky to lose Captain Georg Von Trapp. Keith Michel was first reserve if Plummer proved (as he soon wished) unavailable. Despite all his badmouthing, Plummer and Andrews became good friends.  Critic Pauline Kael famously tried to bury “the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want.”

12  – Omar Sharif, Doctor Zhivago, 1964. Kirk Douglas chased after the Russian novel winning  the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature. However, Rome producer Carlo Ponti secured the rights to Boris Pasternak’s book, based not only on Russia’s revolution and Stalin’s Great Purge of freedom,  but the married writer’s long affair with the poet Olga Ivinskaya.  Ponti signed David Lean to direct Mrs P, Sophia Loren as Olga. Or Lara by now.  “Too tall,” snapped Lean. They then started hunting their Yuri Zhivago through…  top Brits Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole (Lean’s  Lawrence of Arabia, 1961);  two Americans, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman; and a single Swede, Max von Sydow.  Caine said he suggested Lean should use his  Lawrence find, Egyptian Omar Sharif.

13 – Jean Marais, Fantomas, France-Italy, 1964.       Given  the rather Thunderballish poster lines – “Men Hunt Him Down – Women Look Him Up!” – it was inevitable   that cineaste André Hunebelle would offer the title  role to  007. Just as obviously no foreign actor in his right mind  would share a screen with the French stutter, splutter, mutter, nutter comic Louis de Funès, who ate scenery as if it was ratatouille. “The sole actor I never liked as a human being,” said Marais. “Working with de Funès, made me the highest paid extra in French films.” He fled from a  fourth chapter, Fantomas en Russie, in 1968.

14 –   Richard Johnson, The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders, 1965.        Bondmeister Terence Young designed it for the  Connerys. Diane Cilento was tied  up with  The Agony and The Ecstasy in Rome with no end in sight.  Young’s second string – Johnson and Kim Novak – married  after the movie.

15 –   Clint Eastwood, Le Streghe/The Witches, Italy, 1965.     James Bond v El Cigarello as producer Dino De Laurentiis collected top directors (Vittorio De Sica, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luchino Visconti) and stars (Annie Girardot, Alberto Sordi)  for his vanity production of sketches starring his wife  Silvana Mangano. Clint won De Sica’s sketch, Una sera come le altgre/A Night Like Any Other. For$20,000 and a new Ferrari. “There’s no 10% on  a Ferrari,” noted Eastwood.

16 –   Rod Taylor, Young Cassidy, 1965.         Director John Ford talked of this film about the young Sean O’Casey while Connery was in Hollywood making Marnie.  All set to go  after Goldfinger, Sean told me in November 1963 while shooting Woman of Straw  in Poole.  Except the script not up to par. Director Jack Cardiff finished the film for an ailing Ford.

17 –   Warren Beatty, Promise Her Anything, 1965.        While Sandra Dee, of all people, was chasing him for some Hollywood froth, Sean had his eye on some of his own. The full, original title may be why it landed at Beatty’s door: Promise Her Anything But Give Her A 500lb Pussy Cat.

18 – David Hemmings, Blow-Up, 1966.       Connery passed on the Thomas, the Swinging London fashion phoptrapher hero (once aimed at David Bailey and Terence Stamp). “I couldn’t understand what Antonioni was talking about.” Vanessa Rewdgrave could, it seemed, from her autiobgraphy. “Blow-Up was about the unity and difference of essence and phenomena, the conflict between what is, objectively, and what is seen, heard, or grasped by the individual.” Oh really! I always felt it was a Churchillian riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…translated from Italian.

19 –   Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Wait Until Dark, 1966.      Producer Mel Ferrer wanted Sean as the blind Audrey Hepburn’s husband. Terence Young, directing, did not.

20 –   Marlon Brando, A Countess From Hong Kong, 1966.   First designed  30 years earlier (!) as Stowaway for Paulette Goddard (then Mrs Chaplin)  and Cary Cooper,  now played by Sophia Loren and Brando – bitterly disappointed by the genius directing. Charles Chaplin., at 77. ““He said I was the only one who could play it. Which makes me wonder why he has also been calling Sean…”  (Or Cary Grant and  Rex Harrison)…. Brando  called Chaplin  the  nasty, sadistic asshole from Hell.  “And,” he added, “I’m being kind.”

21 –   Terence Cooper, Casino Royale, 1967.

22 –   Steve McQueen, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1967.       Turned down by Richard Burton, director Norman Jewison and producer Walter Mirisch took Sean to lunch at New York’s Regency Hotel.  But he also passed on Tommy Crown, just too tired after You Only Live Twice.  Some years later later, he told Mirisch: “I should’ve played that part.”

23  – Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes, 1967.

24 –  Omar Sharif, Funny Girl, 1967.  The Jewish Barbra Streisand preferred an Arab screen lover (on and off-screen) to Connery.. And the others short-listed for her gambling man Nick Arnstein:, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra. Plus three TV stars, Robert Culp, James Garner, David Janssen, that she would have chewed up and spat out. She was an expert in cutting her co-stars’ roles to ribbons.  Asked whether she’d been difficult to work with, director William Wyler said:  “No, not too hard, considering it was the first movie she ever directed”!

25 –   David Hemmings, The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1968.      UK director Tony Richardson’s first choice for Captain Nolan.  In 1970, Hemmings named  his (actor) son, Nolan.

26 –   Richard Burton, Boom, 1968.      Playwright Tennessee Williams tried to persuade him to play Chris Flanders in this worthless version of his 1963 Broadway  flop, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. Williams and the Brechtian director Joseph Losey had a reading with Connery and Simone Signoret at the Colombe d’Or in St Paul de Vence.le’s passion. “I am an articulate, intelligent man,” he told Rush. “I read the screenplay and if you don’t give me the part I will kill you.”

27 –   Frederick Stafford, Topaz, 1968.       Alfred Hitchcock’s unhappiest film experience – even before becoming his biggest flop…  Both Connery and Taylor (007 and nearly-Bond) were in the Hitchcock frame for the film forced upon The Old Master by Universal (which then removed its logo from the credits!). It proved to be Hitch’s unhappiest shoot, longest film (three endings!) and biggest flop. Budget: $4m; box-office: $1m. The reason: No stars. How much better it would have been with his 1963 Marnie star back in espionage (“No thanks!”) instead of his Czech-born Euro-copy-spy (OSS 117, etc) with all the charisma of a toilet roll.    For the French market, both screen spies were dubbed by the same actor, Jean-Pierre Duclos.

28 –   Christopher Plummer, Waterloo, 1970.       On a dream-team list to play Wellington – opposite Peter Sellers as Napoleon!

29  –   Peter Finch, Sunday, Bloody Sunday, 1970.    Director John Schlesinger first called up Ian  Bannen to replace Alan Bates  when he was delayed on The Go-Between.  It soon became obvious that the Scot couldn’t hack playing a gay medic and, worse, having to kiss co-star Murray Head. Paul Scofield was contacted. Sean inquired… “After Ian Bannen left it,  I put in for the role of the Jewish doctor but there’d already been an offer to Finch. Anyway, he looks more Jewish than I do.” Finchey lost  an Oscar due (everyone said) to the gay kiss that Bannen felt would have  ruined his career. In  fact, he later said his career never recovered from being unable to cope with the script. Until Connery asked Bannen to join him in The Offence, 1972., one of his 206 screen roles in 45 years. Schlesinger said the tale was based on his brief affair with bisexual actor John Steiner – a happier one than in the film. 

30 – Nicol Williamson, Robin  and Marian, 1976.      Sean was contacted for Little John until director Richard Lester said there could be one Robin and one Robin only…   Oh yeahTen years later, Jason Connery was the TV  Robin). 

31 – Robert Shaw, The Deep, 1976.   ‘”Our problem is all too obvious,” said producer Peter Guber’s diary. “No major actors or actresses have ever dived before… We began by milling over Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum and Sean Connery for the role of Romer Treece. But [director Peter] Yates and I thought Robert Shaw would perfect He appeared sensationally in the last [Robert] Benchley epic, Jaws.”  OK, said Shaw.  “I’ll do it! I don’t know why… it just has the right smell.”   Just  not at the box-office because  it was not as it was sold – Jaws 2. (Incidentally, Sir Sean  had dived  in Thunderball  on 1964).

32  –   James Coburn, The Last Hard Man, 1976.        Charlton Heston felt it’d be a good film “especially if we can get Connery.”  They d29 –   Nicol Williamson, Robin  and Marian, 1976. Sean was contacted for Little John until director Richard Lester said there could be one Robin and one Robin only… Ten years later?  Jason Connery was the TV  Robin.

33 – Alec Guinness, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.

34 –  Peter O’Toole, The Stunt Man, 1977. The dream project of director Richard Rush took seven years to finance and three more to release it… in 1980.  Jeff Bridges and Martin Sheen were sniffing around the title role  when Elia Kazan recommended Railsback. As for the director role, Sean Connery and George C Scott were suggested. They lacked O’Too

35 – Kirk Douglas, Saturn 3, 1980.      Chauvinistic Lord Lew Grade wanted Sean as the spaceman fighting Michael Caine as an android.  Their reply was somewhaat anal.

36 –   Michael Caine, Dressed To Kill, 1980.       Even when due oppposite Liv Ullmann, Connery didn’t fancy Brian De Palma’s idea of dressing up as a lady – especially a lady killer. Nor did Caine. As he pulled on bra and tights, he said: “What if I get to like this?”  Sean got his 1988 Oscar for De Palma’s Untouchables.

37 –    Richard Chamberlain, Shogun, TV, 1980.      In the first stage of superagent Michael Ovitz’ fascination with James Clavell’s novel about 17th Century feudal Japan, Richard Attenborough was due to direct Connery, Albert Finney str Roger Moore as the heroic Blackthorne caught between fierce warlords. Second stage was a 560 page, 1,062 scene, 2,749  set-up and 12 hour mini-series with, as Chamberlain billed himself, “one of the few Americans they let play British roles.”Rioger Moore had passed. aJapanese superstar Toshiro Mifune growled away in Japanese, minus sub-titles! And it worked. Splendidly. Blackthorne was thisclose to Will Adams, once planned as a John Huston movie for Peter O’Toole… and  Mifune.  

38 – Stacy Keach, Road Games, 1980.   “Just because I drive a truck doesn’t make me a truck driver.”  The Aussie director and writer, Richard Franklin and Everett De Roche, had the same idea for the truckie chasing a killer. And that was Sean as Pat Quid. Other people were named Captain Careful, Frita Frugal and, of course… Sneezy Rider.

39 – Nigel Terry, Excalibur, 1981.      Agreed to the first script in 1975. And eventually became King Arthur in First Knight, 1995.

40-  Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, 1981.   UK wiz Ridley Scott spent a long time sniffing out the perfect Deckard.  From top notchers Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman (the first choice was keen… on making it a totally different character, of course), Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino…  to such excellent journeymen as William Devane, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Frederic Forrest, Scott Glenn, Tommy Lee Jones, Raul Julia, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken.  Martin Sheen was too exhausted after Apocalypse Now. In sheer desperation, choices lowered to Cliff Gorman, Judd Hirsch. Even the Virginian Morgan Paull stood a chance, having played Deckard in Scott’s tests of potential Rachaels. (He was given Holden for his pains). Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger, not yet seen as Conan, much less Terminator.  And for probably the last time in such an illustrious list,  the fading star of Burt Reynolds.


41 – Albert Finney, Annie, 1982.  

He had to sing as Daddy Warbucks and promptly began lessons in LA.  “Ray Stark, the producer,  was pressurising me  to  make a decision and I wouldn’t  until  I was sure I could do it well enough,” Sean told me during the  1981 Deauville festival.  “I didn’t want  to do it  and then find I was going to be dubbed.   He bugged me about it and I said, ‘I’d rather walk away  from it.’    So I did.”


42 –   James Earl Jones, Conan The Barbarian, 1982.    The rather Teutonic Thulsa Doom was  the warrior chief who killed Conan’s folks.

43 –   Richard Burton, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1984.      Director Michael Radford fought hard to film the Orwell clasic in the titular year – but was six weeks into shooting before he found his interrogator, O’Brien. “Burton was always on the list,” Radford told the Den of Geekl website, “but I didn’t really want a drunk around the place. Sean Connery ummed and aahed and ummed and aahed… Rod Steiger’s facelift had gone wrong… Paul Scofield broke his leg… And I said we’d better just go for Burton.

 So we helicoptered the script to Haiti, and he got on board another helicopter and came straight out.  He became completely teetotal,  had Diet Cokes around the place. He’d offer one to me, and I’d sip it, to check there was no vodka in it. He was great.” In his final role. 

44 –   Rutger Hauer, Ladyhawke, 1985.      First planned opposite Dustin Hoffman – Connery’s (unlikely) son in Family Business, 1989.

45 – Christophe(r) Lambert, HIghlander, 1985.   Co-star Clancy Brown revealed  that Sean was first offered the lead role of clansman Connor MacCleod… the “strongest of all the immortals”  in the tussle for The Prize…

46 – Clancy Brown, HIghlander, 1985.   …and then the villain, Kurgan, the “strongest of all the immortals.” Sean  brushed them both aside (as he also did on-screen) as his preference,  the 2,000-year-old nobleman, Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez… knowing full well, he could knock him off in a single week for his $1m fee.  

47 –   Bryan Brown, Tai-Pan, 1986.      Another James Clavell hero.  And the author James Clavell never saw the film.  “People tell me it’s lousy.”

48 – Gene Hackman, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller (labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert) the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson tried all ages for the villain politico. From James Caan and Al Pacino at 46 to Gregory Peck at 70. Plus James Coburn, Sean Connery, James Cromwell, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Mitchum, Donald Moffat, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Jason Robards Donald Sutherland and Jon Voight.   Hackman was 56.

49 –  Bob Hoskins, Mona Lisa, 1986.      Irish director Neil Jordan wrote it for Connery.  Hoskins thought the role  was “a  sort  of Rambo-esque mega-thug,” until rewrites turned him into “a muscular fellow who wears his heart on his sleeve.  A bit like me, really! A one in a lifetime  role.”  So, Hoskins took most awards, including the Cannes Festival’s  Best Actor and an Oscar nod.

50 – Peter O’Toole, The Last Emperor, 1987.    Sean was an early thought but producer Jeremy Thomas said   it had to be  O’Toole. “He loved the character [the boy emperor’s tutor] and was the symbol of Westertn style, in top hat and tails, very statuesque – and  enamoured of working  with… Bert O’Lucci.”  Connery made The Untouchables and  the April 11, 1988 Oscar scoreline was: Emperor 9, Connery 1


51 – George Carlin, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1987.      
Shooting had moved from Arizona to Italy, but no one had been found for Rufus,  mentor of the time-travelling duo. “We reached out to all sorts of people, included, but we were… not on anybody’s radar,” director Stephen Herek told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. “We went through 20-25 people – Ringo Starr included, probably Roger Daltrey.” “They just couldn’t find anybody,” reported Alex Winter/Bill. “Imagine that opening monologue with Charlie Sheen, Sean Connery…  These are the names that were being bandied about. None of them are really comedians.  It seemed fairly logical to land on a comedian… and I’m very glad that they did. There’s Time Bandits allusions for Connery, [but] I feel like he would have been too much of a nod. George was a happy accident. That whole movie was a happy accident. No one thought it would ever see the light of day.” Carlin kept the wannabe Wyld Stallyns rock stars together with his time-travelling phone box. Winters and Keanu Reves tested for each other’s rôles. Washington Post critic Hal Hinson called it frisky and companionable. “Like unkempt ponies.” All three (alas!) galloped into the sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, 1990. 

52 – Peter O’Toole, High  Spirits,  1988.        Director Neil Jordan must try harder.  He craved Connery. He agreed, than changed his mind. Well, the hero Peter Plunkett’s “most haunted castle in Europe” was in Ireland, not Scotland! No way to attract Sean. Ireland meant Limerick… and O’Toole.  And way too much blarney, begorrah.

53 –   Richard E Grant, Warlock, 1988.       Undoubtedly agreed with Variety: “a failed  attempt to concoct a pic from a pinch of occult chiller, a dash of fantasy thriller and a splash of stalk ‘n’ slash.”

54 – John Neville, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1988.      They worked together on Time Bandits, one of Connery’s resurrection movies, and now Pythonite Terry Gilliam offered him the titular rôle of his lavish re-make. No, OK.   Well, how about… ? 

55 – Robin Williams, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1988.      … Yes, how about… The King of the Moon cameo in a spectacular sequence – “very Cecil B De Mille, 2,000 extras.” Connery was not convinced. “It’s not really a role.” And not very kingly. Williams is credited as Ray D Tutto, English version of re di Tutto or King of Everything. Sean and Robin were later due for Bruce Beresford’s stymied Don Quixote, circa ’96.

56 – Laurence Luckinbill, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, 1988.          

57  Audrey Hepburn, Always, 1989.         “There are seven genuine movie stars  in the world today,” noted Steven Spielberg. “Sean is one…”  Audrey was another.  “I wo’’t name the others because some of my best friends wouldn’t be among them.” In 1988,  he got Sean – as the father of Indiana Jones.

58 – Richard GerePretty Woman, 1989.  

59 – Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, 1989.


60 –   Richard Dreyfuss, Rosencrantz & Guilderstern Are Dead, 1990.    
Announced as The Player King by playwright-turned-debuting-director Tom Stoppard two months before Sean’s 1988 Oscar.  After Family Business, Connery had throat  surgery, removing benign polyps from his vocal chords.  “It was a $4m picture and I was going to  work  for $70,000.  But with my throat  uncertain, I suspended everything.  Tom became rather unpleasant, maybe thinking it was over the money.  Which it wasn’t.”  (Connery is said to have paid Stoppard $566,000  compensation).  Once  fully fit, Connery replaced Klaus Maria  Brandauer  in The  Hunt  For Red October. And began The Russia House  – a John Le Carré  book adapted by Stoppard! – with Rosencrantz still dead in the water, awaiting the arrival of Dreyfuss.  “I’d  rather  see Jaws  without  the  shark,” said Stoppard, “than without  Richard.” 

  (Clic to enlarge)  

* The plan in 1988. Tom Stoppard was set to direct his first movie of his first play, toplined by Sean as The Player King – until his throat  surgery. Stoppard was not pleased and his backing was delayed until Richard Dreyfuss came aboard in 1990.




61 – Brian Blessed, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, 1990.     No, no, not another Dad! Connery turned down Lord Locksley, father of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood (with a US accent), but accepted an alternative cameo: King Richard (in a Scots accent). His Majesty was 37 at the time. Sean was 61. Too big a hit for anyone to care…

62 – Mel  Gibson, Air America, 1990.          Connery liked director Richard Rush’s script. Gibson was persuaded by rewrites.  “New-and-different means in Hollywood – you’ve changed three scenes.”  But according to Peter Bart  (Lorimar’s president when the project began), the project had a complete ideological metamorphosis: airborne to stillborn.

63 –   Richard Harris, The Field, 1990.     Both Brando and Sean Connery said: Thank you much but I’m not Irish. And so the My Left Foot director, Jim Sheridan gave the bountiful role of Bull McCabe, an Irish farmer trying to buy the land he had tended all his life, to Buncrana’s Ray McAnally… who promptly died. Limerick’s magnificently bearded Richard Harris came acalling– “as mad as a brush,” said Sheridan –  and played Bull as in a china shop, way over the top. ‘Twas, after all, a role to win a nomination but never the Oscar.

64 – Fernando Rey, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, 1991. Having jumped ship from the other 500th disco erring America anniversary tribute, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, director Ridley Scott asked the too busy Scot to portray   Antonio de Marchena. He greatly assisted  Columbus by introducing him to  the sailor-navigator-explorer and ship-building brothers, Martin and Vicente Pinzon.

65 –  Patrick Bergin, Sleeping With The Enemy, 1991.       A wife beater?  This is what’s offered  after you tell Barbara Walters and TV zillions  (in 1987) that hitting  a woman was fine if they needed to be kept in line.  Sean and Kim  Basinger  proved  too expensive.

66 – Richard Attenborough, Jurassic Park, 1992.

67 –   Anthony Hopkins, Shadowlands, 1992.        Director Sydney Pollack saw Sean and Streisand!! Lord Attenborough  saw Hopkins (of course)  and Debra Winger.

68 – Patrick Stewart, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, 1992.   “You can’t afford me!” Auteur Mel Brooks asked Conneryh to spoof his King Richard from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, 1990… also something of a spoof as he played the English king in his usual Scots accent. Therefore, Brooks had Stewart use the same burr for Richard’s entrance. Both actors had previously played the Hood – Connery in Robin and Marian, 1975, and Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation #94: Qpid, TV, 1991.

69 –   Clint Eastwood, In the Line of Fire, 1992.        Jeff Maguire’s impeccable   script hung around Hollywood for a decade as they all – Beatty, Connery, Hoffman, Redford and Tommy Lee Jones  –  backed away from  the  ageing  Secret  Service  man. Some suits even tried to go younger (ditching the pivotal  JFK assassination back-story!) with Tom Cruise or Val Kilmer. At 62, Eastwood even felt he was too old for the fiftysomething hero, He  relented  and made it one of his finest movies.

70 –    Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List, 1993.          “Schindler gave me my life, and I tried to give him immortality.” Thirty years earlier,  a certain Leo Page sold MGM a Howard Koch script  about Oskar Schindler, the Nazi businessman who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during WWII. The Holocaust  project was shelved when Connery backed off. As Poldek Pfefferberg, the Polish-American Page was one of the Schindlerjuden. He next told his story to Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. Steven Spielberg spent ten years growing up before making  the film.  After four previous nominations, it finally won Spielberg his first Oscar on March 21, 1994.  Chicago critic Roger Ebert praised Spielberg’s unique ability of adding  artistry to popularity in his serious films – “to say what he wants to say in a way that millions of people want to hear.”

71 –  James Earl Jones, The Lion King, 1993.       Two ex-Bonds – Connery, Timothy Dalton – plus Liam Neeson were considered royal enough to voice King Musafa in the 32nd Disney toon – known as Bambi meets Hamlet in Africa.


72 – Steve Lively, The Princess and the Cobbler, 1993.  
Connery apparently never showed up to record Tack the cobbler’s one  single line.  What else for the greatest toon that never was… Across 52 years, 1961-2013, Canadian animation genius Richard Williams (Roger Rabbit, etc), toiled on his life’s work, a toon version of Mulla Nasrudin tales. As Nasrudin, The Amazing Nasrudin, The Majestic Fool, Tin Tack, The Thief and the Princess, The Thief Who Never Gave Up, Once… and, after Harvey Scissorhands Weinstein finished with it, Arabian Knight – ho, ho ! – with Matthew Broderick as Tack. Promised and denied aid by Disney, Steven Spielberg, Warners, etc, ripped off by collaborators uisng his ideas when returning to Disney (see Aladdin!), inspiring other toons and eventually having the movie snatched from him, re-cut, re-voiced and released by almost as many outlets as he’d had titles. He never saw any of them. “My son, who is also an animator, did tell me that if I ever want to jump off a bridge then I should take a look.” In 2013, Williams said his May 1991 workprint was saved – digitally archived by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He subtitled it with typical irony… A Moment In Time!!!


73 – Jeremy Irons, Die Hard With A Vengeance, 1994.       Hollywood preferred Brits as villains. Not this one. “Scho schorry,” said Sean, “but I have no wish to be schuch a diabolical villain.” Next? David Thewlis – finally replaced by a steely Irons. 

74 – Richard Attenborough, Miracle on 34th Street, 1994.  John  Hughes directed the re-make of the 1946 classic  – after it had been rejected by Bond and Superman writer and newly director, Tom Mankiewicz.  “When Fox offered me that picture, I was smarter than John Hughes because I said, If I can’t get Sean Connery or Jack Nicholson for Kris Kringle, I ain’t doing it.” Hughes chose the one actor around  with a full Kringle (ie Santa Claus) white beard.  It wasn’t long before both Hughes and Mankiewicz quit, disillusioned with Hollywood. They loved writing, directing – “the work!” – not the bullshit. (Mank’s friend, Natalie Wood, had been in the original age ejght).

75 –    Gene Hackman, Wyatt Earp, 1994.       Who can be Wyatt Costner’s father? Obviously, Connery. Or Hackman.  Whoeverthehell’s available! 

76 –  John Cleese, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1994.        Cleese was in and out in two weeks as Professor Waldman in Ken Branagh’s Gothic resuscitation.  (Cleese was also picked by to take over  Connery’s Don Quixote  in 1997 –  if Bruce Beresford could get it rolling anew).

77 –    Anthony Hopkins, Legends of the Fall, 1994.       Now it was for Brad Pitt’s Pa. Actually, it was  to father Tom Cruise at first.

78 – Christophe(r) Lambert, Mortal Kombat, 1995.     The apprentice succeeds  the sorcerer – as  it’s one  Highlander for another as Lord Rayden in director Paul WS Anderson’s weak movie of the top video game. 

79 – Andrew Keir, Rob Roy, 1995.     Inevitably, Connery was the first Scot asked to be (the thoroughly trustworthy) Duke of Argyll.   Keir died two years later.

80 –   Sylvester Stallone, Assassins, 1995.       Aboard, for a wee while, after Michael Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger bailed from the veteran  hit-man hunted by a younger shooter out to make his name. 

81 –    Patrick McGoohan, Braveheart, 1995.       He had to refuse  another  king –    KIng Edward I  – in Scotland because of shooting Just Cause  in Florida. 

82 – Jeremy Irons, Die Hard With A Vengeance, 1995.       He turned down the role, telling director John McTiernan  that he had no wish to be such a diabolical villain. Second choice, David Thewlis, was replaced by Irons.

83 – Robin Williams, Jumanji, 1995.        Two kids find a jungle board game with magic powers unleashing grotesque animalia and some poor guy trapped inside the game since playing it as a tot. Williams lapped it up after Connery, Dan Aykroyd, Richard Dreyfuss, Rupert Everett, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Bill Paxton, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger fled the incoherent script. Jumanji, incidentally, is Zulu for “many effects.” And how.

84 – Willem Dafoe, The English Patient, 1996.       Took a long time   considering  – and then  leaving – the  production that won nine Oscars including Best Film and Best Director (Anthony Minghella) from a dozen nominations.

85 –   Willem Dafoe, Victory, 1996.        Among auteur Louis Malle’s 1978 choices for Axel in  his 20-year-old dream project – the Joseph Conrad classic. (The others were  Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Jon Voight).  But Paramount  was not as keen as it had been for its 1940 version. Gradually, shooting was planned, a France-Australia-Germany-Canada co-production in Indonesia and the Philippines, for July-September 1979. Malle and his new lover (and co-scripter) Susan Sarandon went to Atlantic City, instead.

86 – John Rhys-Davies, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, 1996.       Scheduling meant that a Welshman succeeded a Scot as he oriental Cassim, the titular King.

87  – Jon Voight, Anaconda, 1996. “Alone among snakes, anacondas are unique. After eating their prey, they regurgitate in order to eat again.”   We learned a lot like this in s creature feature.  Sean Connery, Tommy Lee Jones, John Malkovich, even the French Jean Reno preferred refused tickets to the Amazon – and Voight tackled the riff on  Robert Shaw.

88 –   Jeremy  Irons, Chinese Box, 1997.      Hong Kong director Wayne Wang’s look at  Hong Kong being returned to China was created  for  Gong Li’s English-speaking debut.

89 –   Bruce Willis, Armageddon, 1997.         The start of a seven-film collaboration between Willis and producer Joe Roth started when Roth rescued him from a mighty Disney lawsuit. He offered  a three movie deal. The first, Armageddon, paid off Disney the $17.5m for leaving Broadway Brawler after rows with director Lee Grant. Result: $1.3bn worldwide with the other two (The Sixth Sense and The Kid).  Bruce’s career was saved.  

90 –   Bruce Willis, The Jackal, 1997.      No longer The Day of the… Neither was the tawdry movie.

91 – Anthony Hopkins, Amistad, 1997.     Spielberg could not land him this time as  the former (sixth) US President John Quincy Adams.

92 – Anthony Hopkins, The Mask of Zorro, 1997.     OK then, said Steven Spielberg, what about the older Zorro handing over to a new one – Cruise or Garcia, at the time. But he’d played that already in Highlander, 1986.

93 – Geoffrey Rush, Les Miserables, 1997.    Anthony Hopkins also dropped out; “Inspector Javert was too unrelenting,” he told me in Paris. Connery decided his first baddy would be more local – and kilted – in The Avengers.

94 – Vin Diesel, The Iron Giant, 1998.    First planned as a filmusical, based on  Pete Townshend’s concept album, inspired in turn by UK poet Ted Hughes’  book, Brad Bird’s toon take won the best reviews and worst audience of 1999. Sean topped the list of possible voices for the 50ft metal-eating robot creation of the British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, followed of course by James Earl Jones.  Plus two masters of the voicing art… the dashing Canadian Peter Cullen, aka Transformers’ Optimus Prime during 1984-2018 and Winnie The Pooh’s Eyeore, 1988-2009… and Denver’s mighty Frank Walker, who has amassed 864 voicing gigs  from 1969 to 2021, mainly Scooby-Doo and Curious George   Montana’s Bird went on to Disney, directing The Incredibles, Ratatoullie – with time off for helming Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

95 – Maurice Roëves, The Acid House, 1998.    The oh-so-upright UK tabloids got in a feal tizzy about this swearing and all ways offending God. (What else from Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh?) And maybe Connery saw that coming…

96 – Anthony Hopkins, Instinct, 1999.     Sean had the better instinct about scripts. “And he knows exactly what he can and can’t do,” said director Terry Gilliam.

97 – Will Smith, The Legend Of Bagger Vance, 1999.   Bagger is a mysterious caddy who saves a golden golfer who lost his swing in WWI. Director Robert Redford knew the game. He’d started playing when a  Bel Air Club caddy… in 1948!  He even thought of starring a second time in a film he directed. He switched to Hollywood golf stars – Connery and Jack Nicholson. Way too old!  OK, Morgan Freeman saving Brad Pitt? Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks company came aboard, suggesting Matt Damon and Will Smith. Chicago critic Roger Ebert called it the first zen movie – finding peace with the thing you do best.

98 – Paul Newman, Where The Money Is, 2000.     Originally, a Scott Free Production (director brothers Ridley and Tony Scott) about a veteran bank-robber faking a stroke to be moved to a jail more easy to escape from.

99 – Tony Goldwyn, The 6th Day, 2000.     Another villain and a cool idea – but Sean was just rather expensive to support Arnold Schwarzenegger..

100 – Donald Sutherland, Space Cowboys, 2000.     Clint Eastwood planned himself, Connery and Nicholson as the retired USAF pilots called back to NASA duty to save the world. Great fun! (Much earlier, they had all been set for a Clint movie about golf).

101 – Alan Ford, Snatch, 2000. UK producer Matthew Vaughn pursued Connery for the dastardly Brick Top Polford. Sean was intrigued. He liked the script, but didn’t know the work of director Guy Ritchie and asked to see his Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998. After the screening, he told Vaughn “That is a good film.” He then added in a whisper: “You’re not going to be able to afford me.”

102 – Johnny Depp, From Hell, 2001.     The Hughes brothers, Allen and Albert, asked them all (from Sean to Jude Law) before obtaining Hollywood’s best Englishman to hunt Jack The Ripper. 

103 – Michael Caine, Austin Powers in Goldmember, 2001.     As if Mike Myers wasn’t in enough (title) trouble with the James Bond folk, he wanted Sean and Ursula Andress to be Austin’s parents!

104 – Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2001-2003.

105 – Helmut Bakaitis The Matrix Reloaded, 2002.     As he said about many films he rejected:   “I didn’t understand it!” (Who did?)  Big break, therefore, for  the German-born Aussie. Yet nothing much  came of it. 

106 – Michael Caine, The Quiet American, 2002.     Paramount plan in 1997. But Sean doesn’t play losers. And 45 years on, Caine is still subbing Connery. Except now, they were Sir Sean and Sir Michael – or, Sir Maurice Micklewhite, to be precise.

107 –  Gene Hackman, Runaway Jury, 2003.     Six years earlier, director Joel Schumacher asked Connery to play John Grisham’s brilliantly evil jury consultant – opposite Edward Norton and Gwyneth Paltrow. Gary Fleder made the John Grisham courtroom thriller with Hackman, John Cusack and Rachel Weisz.

108 –  Helmut Bakaitis, The Matrix Reloaded, 2003.   The Wachowski siblings tried again, but he was not into Architecture.   Big break, therefore, for  the German-born Aussie. Yet nothing much  came of it. 

109 – Val Kilmer, Alexander, 2004. Another king! Another dad – originally Tom Cruise’s (again), finally Colin Farrell’s. But just how old was Alexander’s father, King Philip of Macedonia. Oliver Stone did not seem to know. Connery was 74; Liam Neeson, 52; Kilmer, 45.

110 – Bill Nighy, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 2005


111 –  Ken Stott, Rebus, TV, 2006.

In 2005.  Ian Rankin’s cult Edinburgh Detective Inspector John Rebus was to transfer from TV to cinema. With Edinburgh’s favourite  son  but  he knew better. It was 20  years too  late.  “At 74, I’m  too old to play the tough copper,”  said Sean.  The project became a second TV series with  Edinburgh’s Stott succeeding TV’s original  TV Rebus, John Hannah.


112 –  Leonard Nimoy, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, 2010.     Michael Bay, who never wanted to direct “a stupid toy movie” until producer Steven Spielberg reeled him in, wanted his Rock star to voice the antagonist,  Sentinel Prime. Nimoy spoke but Prime remained  modelled after Sean and used his 1985 Highlander line, “there can be only one.” 

113 –  Albert Finney, Skyfall. 2011. 

114 – Billy Connolly, Brave, 2012.      For once, Connery had an offered rôle requiring his omnipresent Edinburgh accent. And he passed! Glasgow comic Connolly took over the father of Disney’s first Scots prinesss – another Glaswegian, Kelly Macdonald.

115 – Pierce Brosnan, The November Man, 2013.      The man in question is a retired CIAgent, crusty but not rusty. Far from it… The Aussie-born New Zealand director Roger Donaldson knew exactly what he wanted for Devereaux. A Bond…!   He struck a deal with Daniel Craig, until his stage commitments got in the way. OK, then, why not The Guv’nor? Oh no, said Connery, far to old to be running around. Dissolve. Next, Brosnan heard about it and offered his services as actor (“I can do dark. I’ll even start drinking again”) and co-producer and he brought along his 007 stuntichian Mark Mottram with him.    Perfect!

116 – Jonathan Pryce, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, 2017.

117 – Will Smith, Gemini Birth year: 1930Death year: 2020Other name: Casting Calls:  118