“I just want an elegant man, not this roughneck”: Why Ian Fleming Wanted Anyone But Sean Connery for James Bond

James Bond creator Ian Fleming didn't wanted Sean Connery for the 007 role.

ian fleming, sean connery as james bond

SUMMARY

  • The James Bond creator Ian Fleming didn't want Sean Connery for the spy role.
  • It was reportedly due to the first impression he left on the former, which left Fleming shocked.
  • However, the actor held no grudges against the novelist.
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The James Bond franchise has long been blossoming in the action genre and remains among the fan-favorite franchises. It is rich in many elements, from thrilling action sequences to innovative gadgets, that captivated audiences for decades. It is all thanks to Ian Fleming, the creator behind the iconic 007 spy, who laid the foundation of the vast saga.

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Sean Connery in Goldfinger [Credit- United Artists]
Sean Connery in Goldfinger [Credit: United Artists]
However, many would be surprised to know that he was against the idea of Sean Connery to take up the iconic role. Fleming would have done with anyone, but not Connery, and the reason would surprise many!

Sean Connery’s James Bond Was Different from What Ian Fleming Intended

In Nicholas Shakespeare’s biography of Bond author Ian Fleming, titled Ian Fleming: The Complete Man, the author shared insights on what went behind the scenes in a film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel Casino Royale.

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According to IndieWire, the Bond creator explored several possibilities to bring the iconic character onto the big screen. It was 1962’s Dr. No that eventually got off the ground and starred Sean Connery as the iconic spy.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No (1962)
Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No (1962) | Credit: United Artists

However, the creator was far from glad about Connery’s casting, seemingly due to the first impression that the actor left on the author. Fleming’s film agent Robert Fenn told the book’s author that the late novelist was shocked on meeting the Marnie actor as he couldn’t speak the Queen’s English.” Fenn recalled,

Fleming said,He’s not my idea of Bond at all, I just want an elegant man, not this roughneck.’

Although the novelist had second thoughts about casting Connery in the spy role, many agree that his portrayal contributed to the great legacy that continues to stay strong even today. As per the agent, the novelist had eyes on Richard Burton to portray the role.

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Not just him, Peter Finch, Cary Grant, Dirk Bogarde, Trevor Howard, Rex Harrison, Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, Patrick McGoohan, Roger Moore (who did end up playing Bond later), and Richard Johnson were all considered for the gig.

Sean Connery Reflected on Ian Fleming’s Reluctance on Having Him as James Bond

Sean Connery in James Bond franchise's From Russia With Love
Sean Connery in From Russia With Love (1963) | Credit: United Artists

Fleming’s reluctance to cast Connery as Bond was not news to anyone, particularly to the actor himself. In an interview with Melvin Bragg via Express UK, he reflected that he was well aware of what Fleming thought about his casting.

I never got introduced to Fleming until I was well into the movie but I know he was not happy with me as the choice.

However, he didn’t hold himself back to express what he truly felt about him. He added,

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What was it he called me, or told somebody? That I was an over-developed stunt man. He never said it to me. When I did eventually meet him he was very interesting, erudite and a snob – a real snob.

His casting turned out to be perfect, which even got Bond long-time producer Michael G. Wilson’s approval.

Looking back at the time, he expressed via IndieWire,

Sean Connery was the right guy in the movie for the right time. If it hadn’t been Sean, who knows? Would it have captured the attention of the whole world?

Even co-producer, Barbara Broccoli shared the same thought, adding, “It was the sheer self-confidence he exuded...‘That’s our Bond,I said.”

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Having made his debut in the 1962 movie, the iconic actor reprised his role in seven more movies, with his final appearance being Never Say Never Again (1983). His movies were commercially successful, laying the groundwork for longevity in the cinematic world.

Not only that, but his portrayal eventually cemented the character as a cultural icon, shaping the direction of the movies that became a part of its ongoing legacy.

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Written by Priya Sharma

Articles Published: 1215

Priya Sharma, Senior Content Writer and Social Media Manager at FandomWire and Animated Times. Having graduated in Journalism and Mass Communication, she possesses extensive expertise in crafting engaging and informative content. She has written over 2000 articles across Animated Times and FandomWire on pop culture, showing her dedication to delivering diverse and trending content to readers across the world. Apart from pop culture, she is quite enthusiastic about the Hallyu culture and is exploring the world of anime, expanding the horizons of her knowledge.