The Scottish actor starred in five 007 movies before George Lazenby took over with 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
After the Australian left the franchise following just one movie, Connery was convinced to return in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever for a then-record $1.25 million salary plus two future movies of his choice.
Connery then retired from acting in 2003 after disastrous flop The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. However, that didn’t stop plans for his return in the 50th anniversary Bond movie Skyfall starring Daniel Craig.
Early on in pre-production, Skyfall director Sir Sam Mendes wanted Connery to come out of retirement to play groundskeeper Kincade in the film’s third act. Aside from this being the ultimate 50th anniversary nod to the franchise, Connery would have fit the part perfectly as a native Scot working at the Bond family home.
Mendes previously told Huffington Post: “There was a definite discussion about [Connery playing Kincade] way, way early on. But I think that’s problematic. Because, to me, it becomes too… it would take you out of the movie. Connery is Bond, and he’s not going to come back as another character. It’s like, he’s been there. So, it was a very brief flirtation with that thought, but it was never going to happen, because I thought it would distract.”
No doubt some fans would also have been confused by the 82-year-old’s presence, wondering if James Bond was just a codename and Kincade was a retired 007 from the 1960s.
In the end, Albert Finney, Connery’s co-star from 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express, was cast in the role instead. The actor died in 2019 at the age of 82, a year before the original Bond star. At the time Daniel Craig said: “I’m deeply saddened by the news of Albert Finney’s passing. The world has lost a giant. Wherever Albert is now, I hope there are horses and good company.” The horses were a reference to Finney’s great love of horse racing.
Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson said: “We are heartbroken at the loss of Albert Finney. It was a privilege to work with him and an honour to have had him as part of our Bond family.” Connery himself died a year later at the age of 90.