Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Ian Fleming Really Felt When Sean Connery Was Cast As James Bond

James Bond was arguably the late Sir Sean Connery's most famous role, and according to user polls referenced by BBC, Connery was also the most beloved of all the actors who portrayed the character on screen. That's a big deal since many of the Bond actors are big names in their own right. Connery's name was first tied to Bond when he originated the role in Dr. No in 1962, and the 007 legacy has followed him until his death on October 31, 2020. In total, Connery starred in seven James Bond movies before passing on the character to Roger Moore after Diamonds Are Forever. Connery would come back to 007 only once more at the age of 52 to star in Never Say Never Again, which exists outside the official James Bond canon.

Before James Bond had a movie universe, the character was found between the pages of author Ian Fleming's novels. By the time the first of the Bond films, Dr. No, was ready to pick its star, Fleming had already written nearly ten 007 novels and was intimately connected to the character. He had an idea for a leading man, and Connery was not it.

Ian Fleming wasn't much of a Sean Connery fan at first

Fleming's picks for Bond started with David Niven. He had been acting for nearly 20 years, and had the look and feel that Fleming was going for. According to Richard Maibaum, the screenwriter known for adapting Fleming's novels for film, the author "thought David Niven would have made a great James Bond, but David Niven wasn't all that physical" (via Vanity Fair). Ultimately, Niven turned the part down because he thought he was too old to embody the charismatic spy, according to Express UK. Fleming would eventually get his wish, as Niven did play Bond ... for a grand total of one movie: 1967's Casino Royale

As for Connery, well, Fleming didn't consider him such an ideal choice as Niven. As part of the James Bond Special for The South Bank Show, released in 2008, Connery opened up about Fleming's not-so-nice feelings regarding him playing the secret agent. 

"I never got introduced to Fleming until I was well into the movie, but I know he was not that happy with me as a choice," the late actor shared. "He called me, or told somebody, that I was an overdeveloped stunt man." It should be said that Connery then noted Fleming never said such things to his face.

Sean Connery grew on the novelist

Lucky for James Bond fans everywhere, Fleming would get over his negative feelings for Connery. For one, he was already hired for the role and the production was underway by the time author and actor met. Fleming would become enough of a Connery fan — after he hit the Dr. No performance out of the park — to write details into future James Bond novels that hinted at the actor, including giving the secret agent a partial Scottish heritage. People were going to envision Connery when they read the novels anyway — better to explain why 007 spoke with Connery's unique accent than leave fans wondering.

As it turns out, Connery would grow to like Fleming himself. "His company was very good for a limited time for me," Connery shared during The South Bank Show's James Bond Special. Still, the late actor did say that Fleming was "a real snob," which could definitely explain a thing or two.