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The Reason Sean Connery Regretted Playing James Bond

There are few franchises that have been churning out movies semi-regularly since the early 1960s. Even fewer have brought the kind of box office results that break records. And there's really only one named after a character so suave that grown men immediately feel an overwhelming desire to imitate him when they put on a tuxedo. When it comes to these criteria, no one does it better than Bond — James Bond.

Sean Connery was the original "official" James Bond, bringing the character from the pages of intelligence-officer-turned-writer Ian Fleming's novels to the big screen. His first adventure was 1962's Dr. No, which cost $1 million to make and earned nearly $60 million worldwide (a little over $509 million in 2020 money). The role brought Connery fame, fortune, and an eternal association with an iconic character. But the famously brash and borderline reclusive Connery — who passed away at the age of 90 in October, 2020 — wasn't just a member of the exclusive list of actors who've played Bond. He also has a metaphorical membership to the club of actors who regret the role that made them famous

This is the reason Sean Connery regretted playing James Bond — and why he's not the only one who's felt that way.

Sean Connery tired of James Bond

Connery was lucky to land the role of Bond. According to the late Richard Maibaum, known for his screenplay adaptations of the Bond novels, Fleming "thought David Niven would have made a great James Bond" (via Vanity Fair). Roger Moore was also considered for the part early on. (If you know the entire James Bond timeline, you know both Niven and Moore eventually got their chance to play the super-spy.) Connery's bad-boy vibe ultimately won him the part, but the success of Dr. No quickly turned his big break into an all-encompassing headache.

Connery was dismissive of the Bond films while he was still making them. In 1964 — when his third Bond outing, Goldfinger, was in production — Connery told an interviewer that Bond was just "a dull, prosaic English policeman" when all the "exotic touches" were removed (via Vanity Fair). He could have been demonstrating unique modesty, but it certainly sounds like he didn't think very highly of Bond. 

In November 1965, Connery admitted to a reporter that he was already "fed up to here with the whole Bond bit." Though Connery said at the time that he "shouldn't knock" Bond — and said in a November 1964 interview with The New York Times that he'd be "everlastingly grateful" to the character — his attitude changed over the years.

By the time he was shooting You Only Live Twice, released in 1967, Connery had fallen out with producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, who'd been instrumental in getting him hired. It didn't help that he was stalked and chased by paparazzi during filming, or that he felt his salary was too low. You Only Live Twice was meant to be Connery's last Bond appearance, but he returned for 1971's Diamonds Are Forever — though not out of love for the character. In a 1971 interview with The Guardian, Connery made it clear that he resented the studio executives for wasting his time.  

"I'd been [messed] about too much on other Bond pictures. There's so much bulls*** that comes from bad decisions being made at the top," said Connery, who struck a deal to be paid $10,000 per week if the film's shoot ran over the scheduled 18 weeks. He added, "Talking to some of these moguls about it is like trying to describe to someone who has never taken exercise what it is like to feel fit when you do exercise. They don't understand."

Apparently, Connery only agreed to make the movie (having skipped 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service) because he was given a large percentage of profits and the opportunity to produce two movies of his choice. And Connery wasn't done with Bond money yet: He returned for the appropriately titled Never Say Never Again, reportedly for around $5 million.

Amidst all of that, Connery made it clear how he really felt about the character that launched his career: "I have always hated that damned James Bond. I'd like to kill him" (via The Guardian).

Daniel Craig evidently hated being Bond from the very start

Connery wasn't the only James Bond actor who'd expressed second thoughts over taking the role. Daniel Craig stepped into Bond's polished dress shoes for 2006's Casino Royale, and has reprised the character in four subsequent movies, including 2020's No Time to Die. However, seemingly following Connery's example, Craig used a 2012 interview in which he was supposed to be promoting Skyfall to reveal that he'd secretly hated being Bond all along.

Craig told Rolling Stone that he wanted out of the franchise "from the very moment I got into it, but they won't let me go." He added that he'd signed up to do two more Bond movies, but was prepared to walk away based on how Skyfall did. (It became Sony's first film to gross over $1 billion, and the studio's highest grossing film ever.)

Speculation immediately kicked off about if and when Craig would leave the film series. That speculation continued for the next few years, as Craig continued in the role while also doubling down on his hatred for the character. Two days after wrapping 2015's Spectre, he used a very graphic self-harm metaphor to indicate that he had no plans to make another Bond movie, but would for the money. True to his word — and just like Connery — Craig was lured in by the siren song of the man with the golden gun. He was reportedly paid $25 million to make No Time to Die, a sum that surely provided a quantum of solace during any on-set hardships.