Sean Connery: Why the James Bond actor retired from films

Why the late Scottish icon turned his back on the big screen

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 31 October 2020 12:51
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - trailer

Sean Connery – arguably the greatest ever James Bond – has died aged 90.

The Scottish actor leaves an impressive list of credits to his name, including The Man Who Would be King – in which he starred alongside Michael Caine – Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Despite a voice role in the 2012 animated film Sir Billi, the Oscar winner has been absent from the screen since 2003.

With a career spanning seven decades, the actor retired from films while he undoubtedly still had some terrific performances left to give.

The actor announced his decision in 2006 at an American Film Institute (AFI) ceremony presenting him with a lifetime achievement award, stating: “I have retired for good.”

Referencing surgery he underwent for a kidney tumour, Connery added: “It’s been a bit rough since Christmas but I’m perfectly OK and I feel well.”

But why did he retire? While it has never been confirmed, it seems that his final film was such an arduous experience, it turned him away from making another one.

The production of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a disaster – and one of 2003’s biggest flops. Connery made no secret of his dislike for director Stephen Norrington, saying at the time that he should be “locked up for insanity”.

Noticing how bad the film was, Connery jumped in and got “heavily involved in editing and trying to salvage” the work.

Sean Connery in 2003 flop ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’

His interest was piqued by the idea of returning as Henry Jones Sr in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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Connery himself admitted in a statement posted on his website: “If anything could have pulled me out of retirement, it would have been an Indiana Jones film. But in the end, retirement is just too much fun.”

It is believed he had some creative decisions with Spielberg regarding the character, which prompted him to drop out of discussions.

Caine – his friend and former co-star – also suggested another reason for Connery’s decision.

Sean Connery considered returning as Henry Jones Sr in ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ (Rex)

“The movie business retired him because he didn’t want to play small parts about old men and they weren’t offering him any young parts in romantic leads,” he said.

Caine also verified Connery’s retirement in 2011, saying: “He won’t make another film now – I just asked him. He said, ‘No, I’ll never do it.’”

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