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The Last Movie Sean Connery Ever Made Isn't What You'd Expect

Prior to his death at the age of 90 in October 2020, Sir Sean Connery had been officially retired from acting since 2006. He announced the move prior to accepting his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, which led many to believe that his final film role would be in 2003's critically panned The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. However, the Stephen Norrington-directed comic book movie isn't actually the last film that Connery ever made; that distinction goes to a much stranger movie.

In 2012, Connery took a break from retirement to voice an aging, skateboarding veterinarian on a mission to save Scotland's last beaver, Bessie Boo, in the animated movie Sir Billi. Never heard of it? You're definitely not alone. Sir Billi had a brief theatrical run in the United Kingdom, before it was released on DVD. Meanwhile, it was renamed Guardian of the Highlands for its stateside release, where it was only available on demand or on DVD, according to USA Today.

With its rudimentary CGI animation style and bizarre plot, the movie didn't exactly wow critics upon its release. The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw panned Sir Billi, writing: "Even the vocal presence of Sean Connery can't lend interest to this tedious, crudely animated, bafflingly conceived cartoon feature, liable to please neither children nor adults." While Siobhan Synnot of The Scotsman pondered, "Why did Sean Connery sign up for this?"

Sean Connery came out of retirement for Sir Billi because of his grandchildren

While Connery and his second wife, Micheline Roquebrune, didn't share any children, he has a son from a previous marriage, and she has three children from her first marriage. Despite being private about his personal life, it seems that he considered Roquebrune's grandchildren his grandchildren, too, and when those grandkids became enamored with a sample DVD of the project, the actor decided he would lend his voice to the character of Billi.

In an interview with USA Today, Tessa Hartmann, the writer of Sir Billi, shared just how surreal it was to receive a personal call from Connery informing her that he was willing to take a break from retirement to do her film. "One Friday night with the kids at my ankles, I was cooking dinner and my phone rings," Hartmann said. "It's Sir Sean on the line. I almost fainted. He apologized for taking so long to come back. He said, his grandchildren had been at his house and the kids had picked up our sample DVD. They had watched it over and over again."

She also noted that the James Bond star was excited because Sir Billi was a purely Scottish project. Even though the movie wasn't exactly a success, by joining the film, the proud Scotsman was able to take part in Scotland's first CGI animated movie, as reported by Screen Daily.

Hartmann also shared that Connery recorded his part from a studio near his home in the Bahamas between 2008 and 2012. During the long process, he never personally spoke about what drew him to the film, but Hartmann's husband and the director of Sir Billi, Sascha Hartmann, told the publication that the actor was excited about playing a less idealized hero. "He said that his characters are always heroic, Bond is the hero," he said. "And suddenly you have exactly the opposite. A reluctant hero who is overweight. He's quite old. He moans a lot. [Connery] said that James Bond has all of these traits. Just not on the silver screen."

There's no denying that Sir Billi provides an unexpected ending to Connery's legendary career, but for the actor, the low-budget animated film was a worthy project to break his retirement for because it made his grandkids happy, and it allowed him to support Scottish filmmakers without having to stray too far from the comfort of his home.