Unlikely as it may seem, original James Bond Sean Connery was almost asked to come out of retirement and star in 2012’s Skyfall — but not in the role of 007. The late screen legend Sean Connery was the first actor to take on the part of James Bond way back in 1962’s Dr. No, and the actor’s incarnation of 007 influenced every other actor to play Bond since then.
However, Connery retired relatively early (for a Hollywood actor) after 2003’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen failed to resonate with audiences. When the big-budget comic book adaptation flopped Connery never returned to the screen, but the actor was almost approached to take on a supporting role in the James Bond franchise. Had he accepted the part, Connery would have become the first Bond actor to reappear after his tenure in the role in the franchise’s long history.
Connery was American Beauty director Sam Mendes’ first choice to play the role of Kincaid, the groundskeeper of the titular estate in 2012’s Skyfall. In what would have been a historical first for the franchise, Mendes wanted Connery to play the elderly groundskeeper who helps Bond and M fortify the estate against Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva during the movie’s Home Alone-style climax. However, since Connery didn’t come out of retirement for Spielberg during the making of the belated Indiana Jones sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Bond franchise creators decided against asking the famous actor lest they be turned down.
The producers also cited the fact that Connery’s presence could have proved “distracting” for audiences, which is a fair point when the replacement actor, The Bourne Ultimatum’s Albert Finney, proved perfect for the part but wasn’t intended to be a walking in-joke for fans of the franchise. Connery’s choice to take on the role (if he had accepted it) could have resulted in fans being unable to take the closing act of Skyfall seriously, a problem that would have proven fatal for the film since the zany home invasion sequence suddenly turns tragic when Silva successfully assassinates Dench’s M.
The decision to kill off M was already a franchise first for the film, and Skyfall may well have been biting off more than it could chew by adding Connery into the mix. After all, the actor’s fighting style in Diamonds Are Forever already influenced Craig’s fighting style in his Bond outings, and Connery’s legacy is seen throughout the series even without him dropping in for a cameo. That said, with Connery and his replacement Roger Moore now deceased, Mendes’ decision not to reach out to the actor means that there is still no instance of an old James Bond dropping in to check on his latest replacement. It’s something that departing series star Daniel Craig could be the first 007 to pull off if the franchise’s producers can ever decide on his replacement.