Roger Moore Opened Up About The Disgusting Reason Why He Had To Quit James Bond

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Roger Moore will always be remembered for his time as James Bond. And although he quit the role back in 1985 – after more than ten years as the star of the 007 franchise – it appears that Moore largely enjoyed his time on the spy films. But according to the man himself, there was nonetheless a “disgusting” reason why he had to finally throw in the towel.

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For many people, though, Moore is fondly remembered as their favorite ever James Bond. He was in fact the third man to play 007 in the much-loved spy movies – after Sean Connery and the Australian actor George Lazenby. Lazenby starred in just one film, however, meaning that Connery was by far the tougher act to follow.

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Connery had actually starred in six 007 films by the time Moore took the reigns. Connery also returned to the role in 1983’s non-canonical adventure Never Say Never Again, meaning his tenure as Bond spanned over 20 years. And during this time the Scot helped to establish the character’s status as a suave sex symbol. In fact, Connery was so influential on the Bond franchise that the character’s creator – author Ian Fleming – later wrote the star’s Scottish heritage into the character.

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Yet while Moore also had Scottish roots, through his father, he himself was decidedly English – given that he was born in London. And just like Connery before him, Moore had a significant female following – even before he became famous. This seemingly made the dashing Englishman the perfect candidate to portray Bond in the 007 movies.

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It’s actually rumored that Fleming had wanted Moore to play the iconic spy from the off. However, Dana Broccoli – the wife of 007 producer Albert Broccoli – allegedly fought to have Scotsman Connery cast in the role instead. Fleming was skeptical of this move at first, as he apparently believed that the spy was necessarily English.

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Speaking of Connery, Fleming reportedly said, “He’s not what I envisioned of James Bond looks.” So the writer seemingly had concerns that not only was Connery Scottish, but that the more than 6-foot-tall former bodybuilder was unrefined. He apparently said, “I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man.”

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But Fleming eventually came round to the idea of casting Connery. This supposedly occurred after his partner, Blanche Blackwell, convinced him that the actor possessed 007’s signature sexiness. And at any rate, Fleming’s preferred choice for the role – Moore – was unavailable at the time because of TV obligations.

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Between 1962 and 1969, you see, Moore starred in the British spy series The Saint. And after that, he acted alongside Tony Curtis in The Persuaders!. As a result, Moore likely didn’t have time to play Bond the first time around. And according to his 2008 biography, My Word Is My Bond, the actor was never asked to star in Dr. No anyway.

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Yet Moore did get a taste of being Bond in 1964, when he played the spy in a comedy sketch on Mainly Millicent. But it wasn’t until Connery announced that he was quitting 007 in 1966 that Moore started thinking about playing the role for real. Of course, George Lazenby was instead cast for one movie. Then Connery returned for another stint as the spy in the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever.

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Moore finally got his chance to step into Bond’s perfectly polished shoes next. It came in the summer of 1972, when Bond producer Albert Broccoli offered him the role on the condition that he lose some weight and change his hairstyle. And although Moore disliked these requests, he accepted.

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So Moore first stepped out as 007 in the 1973 film Live and Let Die. The movie featured an iconic title track by Paul McCartney and Wings, and it proved to be markedly different from the 007 movies that had gone before. For one thing, Moore’s Bond was quintessentially English – which reportedly pleased Fleming.

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Another quality that Moore brought to the 007 movies was humor. The actor apparently thought that the world Bond inhabited was absurd – and had no intention of approaching it with sincerity. After all, despite the small matter of him being a spy, Bond told everyone his name. So much so, in fact, that his introduction became one of the character’s catchphrases.

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In 2017 Moore told the Daily Mirror, “I always saw the part as inherently comical. How could I possibly be a spy when everybody knew who I was, even down to my drink of choice? Also, it beggared belief that I could fly a jet plane, operate a mini-submarine, know what to do in space and ski down black runs – straight off cliffs when I became an expert parachutist – without so much as turning a well-lacquered hair.”

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It didn’t seem as if Moore fancied himself much as an action hero, either. The star actually had an intense dislike of guns and said running left him feeling “gawky.” As a result, one of Moore’s Bond’s greatest weapons became his sharp wit. And when that wouldn’t suffice, Moore’s 007 looked to gadgets to save the day, rather than getting physical.

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In many ways, though, Moore’s version of the iconic spy followed audience tastes of the time, rather than the character previously set out by Fleming. Moore has even acknowledged the fact that his 007 was in some ways unique. He once told The Australian, “My personality is different from previous Bonds. I’m not that cold-blooded-killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs.”

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And apparently the sense of fun that Moore brought to Bond extended off screen as well as on. He told the Daily Mirror, “It was a carefree time… If the crew were getting out of hand, I turned a soda syphon on them. I imagine that would result in a complaint to Human Resources or Health and Safety these days.”

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Moore’s 007 wasn’t all about humor, though. In fact, his Bond was mostly about excess. During this era, you see, the spy films featured seemingly excessive smoking, drinking and shocking stunts. And of course, there was a healthy dose of 007’s womanizing – some of which would quite possibly be deemed as misogynist today.

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Bond’s somewhat sexist reputation wasn’t quite lost on Moore, either. As he himself later put it to the Daily Mirror, “Of course, political correctness was never exactly our strong suit.” However, by the late 1970s – when Moore was making the Bond film Moonraker – people were finally standing up for women’s rights.

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Moore recalled, “I remember Lois Chiles on Moonraker going mad when [Broccoli] observed what a ‘cute ass’ she had. She screamed at him, ‘What do you mean by that, you chauvinistic pig? How dare you talk to me like that?’ He was just saying that she looked lovely. I didn’t see it was anything to get upset about. But times were clearly changing.”

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But while some of Bond’s antics may not have aged well, Moore was seemingly a firm favorite among fans. As a result, he stayed on as 007 for a total of seven films. This put him on par with Connery in terms of movies – and made Moore’s Bond just as iconic. The actor is also the oldest person to have played the spy, being 57 when he bowed out from the role in 1985.

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So it seems that the novelty of playing Bond eventually wore off for Moore, just as it had done Connery and Lazenby before him. Moore’s reasons for stepping down as 007 were, however, different from those of the previous stars. In fact, Moore decided to quit as Bond when one of the major aspects of the franchise became “disgusting” to him.

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This had certainly not been the case for Connery. You see, the Scot had ostensibly left the Bond family after simply growing bored of the role. Yet at the same time, tension had apparently built between the actor and Broccoli, the films’ producer. So much so that Connery would reportedly hide inside his trailer whenever Broccoli showed up on set. Connery had also seemingly thought that he should have earned more money for playing Bond – and had even been refused a pay rise.

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Lazenby’s outing as Bond had been short-lived, on the other hand, because the actor believed the franchise was coming to an end. In 2017 he told The Guardian, “I had advice that James Bond was over anyway. It was Sean Connery’s gig and – being in the ’60s – it was love, not war. You know, hippy time. And I bought into that.”

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Consequently, Lazenby turned down a six-movie deal believed to be worth about $1 million. At the time, though, the Aussie actor apparently thought this was a drop in the ocean compared to what he could earn elsewhere. And it was the same advisors that had convinced Lazenby that Bond was over who encouraged him to seek other opportunities.

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Lazenby explained to The Guardian, “They also said there’s a guy called Clint Eastwood doing movies in Italy, getting $500,000 for a month, for doing a western. They said you could do that. So I didn’t feel like I was losing the million dollars.” Yet Lazenby went on to sink into relative obscurity, leading the actor to believe he’d been blacklisted by the movie world’s powers that be.

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But for Moore there was yet another reason for leaving Bond. In 2014 he told the Marlowe Theatre that he had started to reconsider the role as he got older. And at a certain point, he had decided that Bond’s weakness for attractive young women didn’t seem right for him to portray.

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Moore explained, “It wasn’t because of the physical stuff, as I could still play tennis for two hours a day and do a one-hour workout every morning. Physically I was okay, but facially I started looking… well, the leading ladies were young enough to be my granddaughters, and it becomes disgusting.”

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In his 2017 interview with the Daily Mirror, Moore reiterated his claim that he’d bowed out as Bond for fear of coming across as sinister in the spy’s love scenes. He in fact told the British publication that he had aged too much to be “hanging around women in their early 20s without it appearing creepy.” And so he retired as 007 in 1985.

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Moore was then replaced as Bond by Timothy Dalton, who starred as the spy between 1987 and 1989. And when Dalton’s tenure came to an end, Pierce Brosnan took over as 007 from 1995 and 2002. Then, most recently, Daniel Craig has played Bond since 2006. However, Craig is set to retire from the role in 2020.

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So rumors are rife as to who will be the next actor to play Bond. Even former 007s like Moore have had their opinions on who should star as the spy next. And for Moore specifically, it’s important that whoever follows Craig’s footsteps be in line with the way Fleming had initially envisaged the character.

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Moore told the Daily Mirror, “There is talk these days of a black actor, a gay actor or indeed a woman playing the part. While I know all this fits in with progressive attitudes, I’m against it for the reason Fleming was quite clear in the books about how he saw the character. And he was none of these.”

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Regardless of whoever follows Daniel Craig as Bond, though, Moore will remain as many people’s all-time favorite 007. It’s perhaps appropriate, then, that following his time on the spy movies, the star took a five-year break from acting. And Moore only appeared in a handful of roles from then on – many of them parodying his time as Bond. However, his 007 legacy lived on.

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In 1999 Moore was even made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The actor was also later promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003, as a result of his charitable endeavors with UNICEF. So, from that moment on, the actor became officially known as Sir Roger Moore.

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Moore had been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 1991. And the actor was extremely proud of his association with the organization. Following his knighthood, Moore said, “I was proud because I received it on behalf of UNICEF as a whole and for all it has achieved over the years.”

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Twelve years later, however, Moore passed away at his home in Switzerland, surrounded by his family. He died at the age of 89 in 2017 after being stricken with cancer. A tweet posted to Moore’s Twitter page announcing his passing read, “With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated.”

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Moore’s family added, “The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone. We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF, which he considered to be his greatest achievement.”

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The statement appeared to come from Moore’s three children, and it concluded, “Thank you Pops for being you, and for being so very special to so many people. Our thoughts must now turn to supporting Kristina [Tholstrup, Moore’s wife] at this difficult time and, in accordance with our father’s wishes, there will be a private funeral in Monaco.”

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And following Moore’s passing, there was a flood of tributes for the actor. One of the most touching came from The James Bond International Fan Club. It said simply, “Nobody did Bond better.” The club’s statement read, “Sir Roger will always be remembered as the most enduring actor to play 007 and as a great ambassador for the franchise.”

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The James Bond International Fan Club then went on with its heartfelt tribute to the late Moore. “From his announcement as Sean Connery’s replacement in August 1972 to his retirement in December 1985, he thrilled and charmed a whole new generation of Bond fans and redefined the series.” And few would argue with this assessment.

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Despite these kind words, though, it seems that Moore would rather be remembered for the good that he did. In his final interview with the Daily Mirror, he said, “I’m more proud to be associated with UNICEF than any mere film. The only thing of value about being a celebrity is that it gives you a chance to do some good. If you don’t use that, it’s a hell of a waste.”

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But what of the original Bond actor? Well, it’s also been a long time since Sean Connery has graced our screens – yet he has his reasons for hiding from the spotlight, too. The legendary Scot hasn’t appeared in a movie since 2003, in fact, when he starred in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But why would somebody so famous retreat from the industry that made him a star? And what exactly was it that made him stay away from the big screen?

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Connery is best known for being the first actor to portray James Bond, of course. And his contribution to that franchise can hardly be overstated. Indeed, Ian Fleming, the author of the original Bond novels, liked Connery’s performance so much that he decided to make Bond half Scottish in You Only Live Twice, the twelfth book of the series.

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But Connery was never just Bond, either. In fact, he played Indiana Jones’ father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Robin Hood in Robin and Marian, a dragon in Dragonheart as well as plenty more. Yet despite the fact that the actor was still winning awards and good reviews in his later years, he made the decision to walk away from it all.

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Interestingly, back when Connery was just starting out as an actor, he very nearly didn’t accept role of James Bond; he didn’t want to be tied down to a whole film series, you see. If he’d have said no, of course, his life may have been very different – but he said yes in the end.

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Once Connery had taken the role, though, he didn’t really seem to enjoy it. Indeed, he badmouthed the character to the press and to his inner circle. And in the 1992 biography Sean Connery: Neither Shaken Nor Stirred, Michael Caine said, “If you were his friend in these early days, you didn’t raise the subject of Bond.”

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In fact, Caine explained that Connery simply hated being associated with just one role – no matter how popular it was. The actor continued, “He was, and is, a much better actor than just playing James Bond, but he became synonymous with Bond. He’d be walking down the street, and people would say, ‘Look, there’s James Bond.’ That was particularly upsetting to him.”

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And it was while Connery was still playing Bond that he did the infamous 1965 interview with Playboy. In it, he again brought up that he didn’t enjoy being associated with the character. He said, “There are a lot of things I did before Bond – like playing the classics on stage – that don’t seem to get publicized. So you see, this Bond image is a problem in a way and a bit of a bore, but one has just got to live with it.”

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Then, when asked how long he planned to remain in the movie industry, Connery gave a vague answer. He said, “I have no idea how I’ll feel or what I’ll be like or what I’ll be doing even five years from now. I’m eternally concerned with the present. I’ve been working my a** into the ground for 21 years, and I’m just coming up for air now.”

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Connery added, “I find there are two sorts of people in the world: those who live under a shell and just wait for their pensions, and those who move around and keep their eyes open. I have always moved around and kept my eyes open – and [have] been prepared to raise my middle finger at the world.”

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But, you see, those answers are not what made Connery’s Playboy interview so notorious. Instead, it was the actor’s response to the question, “How do you feel about roughing up a woman, as Bond sometimes has to do?” And Connery’s response shocked many. “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman,” he said. “Although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you’d hit a man.”

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Yet the interview may have been forgotten about over time if Connery had ended it there – but he didn’t. The star said, “If a woman is a b**ch, or hysterical, or bloody minded continually, then I’d do it. I think a man has to be slightly advanced, ahead of the woman. I really do – by virtue of the way a man is built, if nothing else.”

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Connery then went on to compare his attitude to Bond’s. He added, “I wouldn’t call myself sadistic. I think one of the appeals that Bond has for women, however, is that he is decisive, cruel even. By their nature women aren’t decisive – ‘Shall I wear this? Shall I wear that?” – and along comes a man who is absolutely sure of everything, and he’s a godsend.”

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Connery’s comments in that Playboy interview followed the star around for the rest of his career. And although he was still very successful after Bond, allegations of domestic violence sprung up around him. Yes, in 2000 biographer Geoffrey Wansell claimed that, in 1965, Connery beat up his then-wife, Diane Cilento, when he saw her flirting with a waiter.

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In fact, in 2005 Cilento made claims of domestic abuse against Connery. She released an autobiography that year, you see, where she alleged that her husband had hurt her both mentally and physically. The actress-cum-writer wrote, “There was physical contact, but it’s important to see it in context. You’ve got to remember he was probably twice my weight.” For his part, Connery always denied the claims.

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Nevertheless, from the 1960s to the early 2000s Connery was still a huge star. He did his last Bond movie, Never Say Never Again, in 1983 and then moved on to other work. In 1988, for instance, he took home a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in The Untouchables. And one year later, he was voted People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”

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But despite his success, Connery always seemed to dislike the promotional side of being an actor. In fact, in 1971 – around the time that the Bond movie Diamonds are Forever was due to be released in cinemas – he told The Guardian, “Usually I hate interviews because I end up boring myself listening to me talking all the time.”

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Interestingly, too, getting into arguments on set, or threatening to walk wasn’t uncommon for Connery at the height of his fame. While filming 1986’s Highlander, you see, he reportedly almost left the set after nearly being hit with a sword. But that was nothing compared to his alleged behavior while working on cult classic Zardoz.

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According to director John Boorman, Connery was not very cooperative behind the scenes of the 1974 movie, which was only his second venture after finishing up with James Bond. Speaking to Vulture 40 years later, Boorman told a story about Connery having to redo a scene in which he was wearing heavy makeup.

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Boorman said, “Sean hated makeup, hated anything touching his skin.” But for this one particular scene, he needed to be in makeup and was seemingly “very grumpy” about it. The director described how unfortunately, at the end of the day, “the assistant camera-loader opened the camera and exposed the film. So we had to do the process again.”

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Connery couldn’t contain his anger, Boorman said, and was allegedly violent. He continued, “Sean wouldn’t believe me; he thought I was teasing him. When I convinced him that we needed to do [the scene] for the third time, he went after this camera-loader and nearly killed him. It took three grips to restrain him.”

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As for the poor camera-loader, Boorman said that thanks to his brush with Connery, he’d had to change jobs. The director added, “This had become such a famous story in the film business that this guy couldn’t get a job or anything. So he changed his name and is working as a commercial cameraman now.”

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Zardoz, meanwhile, didn’t do well with critics, and neither did some of Connery’s later films. Though he had a lot of hits, such as Robin and Marian, he also had flops – with Meteor and Five Days One Summer being just a couple of these. But come 1989 Connery played one of the non-Bond roles that he’s still best known for: Indiana Jones’ father, Henry Sr., in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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That year, Connery spoke to the Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine about his career. He said, “I’m not quite as branded or destroyed by the association with Bond as I once was. There’s no question it was getting in the way of my decisions to do anything else. The strange thing was how long it hung around, but it doesn’t bug me as much as it used to.”

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Connery, then, was Steven Spielberg’s first choice for who should play Indiana Jones’ father. But once again Connery was reluctant to take on a character. He told the magazine, “I was rather disappointed [when I first read the script]. When I voiced my reservations about it, [Spielberg] was, I think, a bit surprised.”

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But of course Connery did do the movie – and he enjoyed it, too. The actor told Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine, “I think the essence of the fun for me is the pleasure. The greatest pleasure is when the whole team is working and then what you’re all trying to do works. When a film set is harmonious and everybody has the same similar intention and goal, it’s terrific.”

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In the same interview, Connery yet again considered the future of his career, adding that at this point in time, he still enjoyed acting. The star said, “As long as I still have that there I’m perfectly happy working. The day I wouldn’t have that enthusiasm or that sort of appetite, then I will look in another direction,”

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And in the end, Connery did appear to lose his passion for acting. The filming of his last movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, was by all accounts a disaster. Connery had in fact turned down roles in The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings, so he apparently didn’t want to miss out another huge hit. However, this plan certainly didn’t go smoothly.

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Yet Connery was an executive producer on the film, so he was allowed to make changes to his character, Allan Quartermain. In the original League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel by Alan Moore, for instance, Quartermain was an opium addict – but Connery refused to have that aspect included in the movie.

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What’s more, Connery and director Stephen Norrington reportedly fought for creative control of the film. And at one point an alleged fight over a prop gun led to Norrington closing down the set for the day and almost coming to physical blows with the actor. Rumors then spread that Connery, not Norrington, was editing the film – although that turned out to be a lie.

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In the end, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a critical flop upon its 2003 release. It received the very low score of 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator website. Yes, famed film critic Roger Ebert said the film was full of “inexplicable motivations” and “general lunacy.”

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen essentially marked the end of Connery’s acting career. And in June 2006, while being awarded the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, he announced that he was retired. People had been holding out hope that he might appear in a fourth Indiana Jones movie, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

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Elsewhere, in 2008 Connery gave a very blunt interview with GQ in which he slammed the whole movie industry. The star said he was “fed up of dealing with f***ing idiots” – and there was more. The actor added, “For years there has been a widening gap between people who can make films and people who can’t. Too many people are afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’ They get in and out quick and too many don’t know what they are doing.”

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In the same interview, Connery said it had been “a hard decision” to not do another Indiana Jones movie with Spielberg. He explained, “There wasn’t really a good story to tell about the father this time around.” But he added, “It was great to see [Harrison Ford] in action again, and the movie had some wonderful effects. I don’t think [Spielberg] can make a bad film.”

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Connery also spoke about the newest actor to play Bond, Daniel Craig. This came after the interviewer suggested that Craig’s Bond was considered to be “something of a return to the glory days of the Connery era.” Then the actor replied, “That’s quite flattering because the last film was terrific, and [Craig] did an absolutely marvellous job.”

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In 2008 Connery also released an autobiography, Being a Scot, but it was sadly a flop. Ironically, Roger Moore, the actor who succeeded Connery in the role of James Bond – and whose performance Connery had criticized in the media – outsold the retired star with his book, My Word Is My Bond.

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And Michael Caine, one of Connery’s best friends, told The Telegraph in 2011 that he assumed the actor would never return to movies. The former said, “I phoned him the other day, but we never see each other because he doesn’t move around a lot now. He won’t make another film now. I just asked him. He said, ‘No, I’ll never do it.’”

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However, Connery actually did star in another film in 2012. It was titled Sir Billi, or Guardian of the Highlands, and it was Scotland’s first CGI movie animation. Connery provided the voice of the title character, a skateboarding veterinarian who sets out to save Scotland’s last beaver.

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However, Sir Billi also didn’t do well – to put it mildly. It actually ended up being released in only three cinemas across Britain. Variety declared that the film “lacks the looks or charm of even the most rudimentary CG offerings being made today, as if not only the animation but also the plot and characters were spat out by off-the-shelf software.”

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Connery does still pop up in the news these days, but in relation to politics, rather than acting. You see, when the U.K. was undergoing a referendum in 2014, the actor campaigned for Scottish independence. The media was quick to point out, however, that Connery didn’t actually live in Scotland anymore.

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But will Connery ever return to acting? He did announce, while the fourth Indiana Jones was in production in 2007, that he was tempted to play Henry Jones once more but that “retirement is just too much damned fun.” And to be fair, he never seemed to give the impression that acting was all that enjoyable.

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