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Why Sean Connery's Final Live-Action Role Was A Failure

Sean Connery, 2020's most roguish and freshly-minted nonegenarian, is someone who doesn't have to worry about a few bad roles dragging down his resume. Between an Oscar, some Golden Globes, being named by Scotland's the Sunday Herald as the so-called "Greatest living Scot," plus the fact that he'll always be considered the best actor to don James Bond's classy tux. Clearly, his legacy is set in stone. 

So, then, he probably doesn't care too much that his final cinematic appearance turned out to be such a bummer. Yes, that's right: Sean Connery is retired. His famous accent hasn't been heard in theaters since 2003, following the aforementioned film role turning into such a debacle for Connery fans, comic fans, and devoted readers of classic literature, all at once. What movie was it that made him call it quits, you ask? Get ready to cringe, because it was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, that lousy 2003 superhero/steampunk flick that, thanks to some truly groan-worthy marketing, you probably remember as LXG

A not-so-extraordinary league

The turn of the 21st century was a strange time in Sean Connery's career, marked as much by the roles he rejected as the ones he accepted. Perhaps the most notable example of this occurred back when Peter Jackson was assembling his Lord of the Rings cast, and Connery turned down playing Gandalf, according to the BBC, because he "never understood it." 

Which makes it all the more bewildering that he did choose to play the classic literary hero Allan Quatermain in LXG. To be fair, the film did have a lot of potential, as a sort of 19th century, pre-Avengers crossover featuring beloved characters such as Dr. Jekyll, Mina Harker, and Captain Nemo, adapted from a cult comic book by Watchmen scribe Alan Moore. Unfortunately, LXG chose to ignore the unique aspects of its source material in favor of aping the X-Men franchise, leading to an audience response somewhere between mockery and yawns.

What left Connery so disenchanted with Hollywood, though, wasn't LXG's reception but rather, its torturous production. When Connery was being nice, he told the BBC that, in his words, "I'm fed up with the idiots... the ever-widening gap between people who know how to make movies and the people who green-light the movies ... I don't say they're all idiots. I'm just saying there's a lot of them that are very good at it." On a less nice day, he more specifically targeted LXG director Stephen Norrington, describing him as someone who should be "arrested for insanity," according to The Hollywood Reporter, and adding, "[I] ended up being heavily involved in the editing and trying to salvage."

Never Say Never Again (except when it's too much fun)

By the time Connery was done with the whole League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fiasco, his feelings toward filmmaking  — and acting in general — had considerably soured. He didn't publicly announce that he was retiring, but quietly went behind the scenes for a few years, finally telling the BBC in 2005 that only a "Mafia-like offer" could entice him back. His spokeswoman was a bit less sure, pointing out that Connery had once returned to the James Bond franchise after claiming he was finished, but as the years have gone by, Connery has stayed true to his promise. He did briefly speak to Steven Spielberg about returning to play the father of Indiana Jones in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but turned it down, feeling that the role didn't interest him enough. 

In the end, Connery's stubborn resolve to enjoy his twilight years in peace can best be summarized by — who else? — Connery himself, who according to Entertainment Weekly once said that, "retirement is just too damned much fun." While it's a shame that his final role went so badly, he seems okay with it, so everyone else should probably follow suit.