1967: Connery says 007 had become a ‘Frankenstein’

While viewing something Bond-related on YouTube, the blog came across something else — a 1967 interview Sean Connery gave to attorney F. Lee Bailey.

“How long are you going to be James Bond?” Bailey asks.

“As long as they keep releasing and re-releasing the films that I’ve made,” Connery replies. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m finished with the James Bond…I’ve stated my terms that I would take one million pounds tax free to do another one.”

“I don’t think anybody would pay that amount,” Connery adds following another question or two from Bailey.

The 32:31 video was posted by Historic Films Stock Footage Archive. The video actually consists of two versions of the interview. The quotes above are from the second version.

Bailey, in the first version, gets a couple of details wrong. In setting up a question, the attorney says Connery identified himself in Dr. No as “James Bond,” while in the second, he quotes the line correctly as, “Bond, James Bond.” Also, in the first interview, Bailey says Bond shot Dr. Dent in the head in Dr. No. Connery corrects him.

Connery also describes why he was tiring of the role.

“It’s some sort of Frankenstein,” Connery says in the first version of the interview.

“As far as being an actor is concerned, it begins to go off a bit,” he says in the second version. “I don’t think there have been any other films that have created a phenomena as the James Bond…There are only so many things one can do as far as the character is concerned.”

Connery also compliments Terence Young for the way he directed Dr. No and says “the second one” (From Russia With Love) was the best Bond film up to that point.

Here’s the video:

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7 Responses

  1. He demanded a million a picture and they said “No”? They should have their heads examined. They should have paid him 10 times that amount and maintained the high quality of the series. The Bond films were never as good after Connery left.

  2. To be clear, he said a million POUNDS ($2.8 million at the time) and that it would be “tax free.” So, he’d have be paid $5 million to $6 million (at least) to have almost $3 million net. He got paid $1.25 million (a record at the time) for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever (which, yes, he donated).

  3. Elvis was paid a million a picture plus 50% of the profits because as Elvis said, “You can’t make an Elvis Presley movie without Elvis Presley.” Elizabeth Taylor was the first actress to make a million a picture and look at the dogs she made. Today stars easily get $30,000,000 a film. They should have given Connery anything he wanted.

  4. @James: That’s fine. Just pointing out it wasn’t $1 million, but 1 million pounds, and it was 1 million pounds *tax free*. Liz Taylor got $1 million (not 1 million pounds) for Cleopatra and it wasn’t tax free. Elvis got $1 million, but it wasn’t 1 million pounds and it probably wasn’t tax free.

  5. I know many, including the late John Barry, all firmly believed that Connery should have been Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but I disagree. Connery was obviously bored with the role of Bond. He saw Bond as pure comedy at that point and given what he did with Sidney Lumet in The Hill, it was apparent that he was hungry for a challenge. Lazenby, despite his sub-par acting skills, brought back a vulnerability to the character that was missing since From Russia With Love and Connery’s “Superman” would not have done On Her Majesty’s Secret Service justice.

  6. All water under the bridge now. It’s pretty clear today that Cubby and Saltzman’s strategy of not putting the actor over the character was the correct one. What if Connery actually played Bond continuously until he was, say, 57? He likely wouldn’t have been happy and it’s hard to say if audiences would have been. Either way, by that point it would have been virtually impossible to recast the role and the Bond series would have been done.

  7. @woodgrainwonderland

    I would have loved to have seen is an older Connery Bond coming to terms with his advancing years. I know the writers of Never Say Never Again were cognizant of Connery’s age once he was pulled out of retirement, he was still killing and making love like he was in his 30’s.

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