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World James Bond Day: the doubts in the casting of Sean Connery and the asteroid that bears the spy’s name


A scene of Sean Connery playing the first James Bond in 'Dr.  No,' under the direction of Terence Young, in 1962 (Photo by United Artists/Courtesy of Getty Images)
A scene of Sean Connery playing the first James Bond in ‘Dr. No,’ under the direction of Terence Young, in 1962 (Photo by United Artists/Courtesy of Getty Images)

This October 5, one of the most famous spies in cinema is celebrated. It’s World James Bond Day. The date is to remember the premiere of the first film in the saga in 1962: Dr. No, starring Sean Connery. The day also commemorates a Czechoslovakian scientist who in 1983 (at that time Czechoslovakia still existed) named an asteroid 9007 James Bond. The celestial body was discovered by Antonín Mrkos also on October 5, 40 years ago today.

The asteroid 9007 It is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and takes to complete one revolution around the sun in 3.89 years.

The Bond films are based on a series of novels written since the early 1950s by Ian Fleming, an Englishman who had been, among other things, a spy in World War II.

At the beginning of the sixties, Harry Saltzmann and Albert Broccoli, two film producers, proposed to Fleming, author of a dozen novels and as many novellas starring a British secret agent called James Bond, to bring the character to the movies. They agreed pretty quickly. What was difficult for them was deciding which story would be the first they would film because everyone’s idea was to create something that almost did not exist at the time: a franchise. Everyone thought Thunderball was the best option but They ended up leaning towards The Satanic Dr. No because it was cheaper to film. They got scriptwriters and Terence Young as director. But they were missing the most important thing, the actor, the one who would embody that agent capable of anything.

James Bond achieved a definitive turn in action cinema. Connery became the archetype of the action actor. Controlled, glamorous, fierce, seductive. The concept of Bond films focuses on a few elements: action, elegance, gadgets, luxurious cars, women (his view of women as ornamental objects in the early films would not pass the scrutiny of this era. But without Connery there would have been no the franchise.

A poster for the film 'Dr No' (1962) made by British Quad and illustrated by Mitchell Hooks for the first James Bond film starring Sean Connery (Reuters/Hannah McKay)
A poster for the film ‘Dr No’ (1962) made by British Quad and illustrated by Mitchell Hooks for the first James Bond film starring Sean Connery (Reuters/Hannah McKay)

A senior studio executive asked before the shooting of the first film: “How is a Scotsman who drove trucks as a milk deliveryman going to play a distinguished and sophisticated Englishman?”. What this man failed to see was that Sean Connery and his non-aristocratic past provided the character with everything he needed: seduction and danger. It was as if the roughness of those in film noir had been added to the solvency that the British actor is supposed to have. More Robert Mitchum and less Lawrence Olivier.

Few events in the world of entertainment provoke as much anxiety and controversy as the election of a new Bond. If when talking about football it is often said that each inhabitant is a potential technical director of their country’s national team, something similar happens with Bond: we all become casting directors. Naturally, that did not happen in 1962 before the filming of the first film. But from it, The Satanic Dr. No, an actor who lends his body to Bond has to have everything. The perfect combination of elegance and warmth, elegance, sensuality and danger; virility and vibe; physical prowess and fearlessness; beauty, credibility and a small and inevitable share of evil.

Pierce Brosnan once said: “More men have walked on the moon than there have been James Bond.” The phrase, in addition to its wit, demonstrates the special condition of being Bond. But, without the slightest doubt, beyond the valuable later contributions of Roger Moore to Daniel Craig, the empire was founded in Sean Connery.

Sean Connery did not have an aristocratic past, but he knew how to become the parameter of English sophistication (Photo by MGM Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images)
Sean Connery did not have an aristocratic past, but he knew how to become the parameter of English sophistication (Photo by MGM Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images)

Ian Fleming, the author of the Bond novels, preferred someone like David Niven for the character: 100% British phlegm. But despite Niven’s elegance, they agreed that he was not going to be enough. 007 is British but also a man of action. At some point other names circulated ranging from Richard Burton to Robert Shaw. But The producers finally decided that the protagonist would be a new face. On the one hand, that would ensure that the viewer was only seeing James Bond and not other characters played by that actor; On the other hand, in addition to budgetary issues, a practical, economic reason was imposed: an established actor would not agree to sign a contract for several films. Both Broccoli and Saltzmann still had the idea of ​​continuing the character. They already had the material: the novels of Ian Fleming

After discarding several options, they met with Connery. When he saw him enter the office, everyone realized that this was how James Bond should walk. At the end of the meeting, James Bond already had a face. Although Fleming was still not satisfied. “Is he the ideal actor for Bond?” he asked. “It’s the best we could find,” they responded, urged by the filming deadlines.

Sean Connery only opposed the clause that required several films but in the end he had to give in. His experiences as an actor hired by a major studio during the 1950s had been bad. He had felt enslaved and did not want to repeat the experience. But the charm of the popular secret agent convinced him.

Ian Fleming, the English writer who created the James Bond novels
Ian Fleming, the English writer who created the James Bond novels

Sean Connery also left his mark on literary Bond. Ian Fleming wrote his last three novels after the release of The Satanic Dr. No. So the paper James Bond adopted some characteristics of the film. Not only the sarcasm, he even gave him a Scottish origin as a nod to the actor. The writer enjoyed little of the success of his character on the big screen. He died in 1964.

Then they came one at a time each year. From Russia with love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965). One more successful than the other. The collection multiplied with each premiere. Each season fans awaited the adventures of their favorite characters who were already established and who in each adventure set new rules for action cinema.

QBut with success came problems. Connery saw that the producers were full of money but he did not. And the exclusivity contract had him tied up. He managed to get permission to act in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie but not much else. His demands were increasingly greater. Behind the scenes he wanted Terence Young, the director of the first in the saga. And more money. He couldn’t understand how, for example, Dean Martin with Matt Helm, a half-hearted copy of Bond, made more money than him. He got salary increases but at a high cost: two more 007 films.

It also required producer status and decision-making power regarding the script, the director and the integration of the rest of the cast. After all, James Bond was him. But Saltzmann and Broccoli did not want to give up part of the great business they had in their hands. Sean Connery, took advantage of the fact that the filming of We only live Twice (1967) had been problematic (and its box office results had declined for the first time since the beginning of the film series) and he announced that it was being pulled. He sent them to find another James Bond. If they found one.

The search was long and intense but unfortunate. George Lanzeby only made one film and suffered public ridicule. It seemed that the great franchise of modern cinema had definitively died. There was one possibility left: once again go in search of Connery.

His post-Bond career had not been as successful as he had assumed; However, he was an important name in the world of cinema. The mere fact of being called again, that the producers wanted to seduce him despite how badly the relationship had ended, changed the balance of relationships. Sean Connery took advantage of it. He demanded the largest payout an actor had ever received: $1,250,000. But he announced that he would donate them entirely to start a foundation dedicated to education in Scotland, his native country. But that was not all. He also secured a percentage of the profits and a vote in the film’s major decisions. This combination made him the highest paid actor for several decades.

Roger Moore and Maud Adams in "Octopussy" (1982)Photo by: United Artists/Shooting Star *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Roger Moore and Maud Adams in “Octopussy” (1982)Photo by: United Artists/Shooting Star *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***

The movie was Diamonds are eternal which had good receipts but cold critical reception. It was time for a new Bond. Roger Moore would arrive to stay for a long time.

The last time Connery donned Bond’s tuxedo was in 1983, more than twenty years after his debut. It was a strange moment. During that 1983 “The Battle of the Bonds” occurred. On the one hand, it premiered OctopussyRoger Moore’s sixth as 007. Shortly after, he did Never Say Never Again, an unofficial bond (that is, not produced by Broccoli and Saltzmann) but starring Sean Connery for the seventh time.

So, With this last appearance, Sean Connery abandoned James Bond forever. She had already done with him everything she had to do. The franchise would continue on its path and remains in force to this day in an extraordinary case of longevity and adaptability.



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