Sean Connery turned down $435 million...

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#1
Okay, the thread title isn't entirely accurate, but it's more or less what happened. We already knew that Connery had turned down the Gandalf role in the LOTR trilogy, and most know the reasons why (if you don't, they're explained below). What we didn't know was how much money he walked away from...until now.

Saying 'no' to Gandalf cost Sir Sean up to £225 million
STEPHEN MCGINTY

SEAN Connery turned down the largest paycheck in cinema history when he refused an offer to play Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it has emerged.

If the actor had put on the long white beard and clasped the wizard's staff as the hero of Middle Earth he would have earned as much as £225 million ($435 million US).

Peter Jackson, the director of the fantasy trilogy, has revealed that New Line Cinema, the production company behind the films, offered the Scottish actor between 10 and 15 per cent of worldwide box office takings to secure his participation.


A copy of the script was delivered to the actor in 1999 and the lucrative offer was put to CAA, the agency that manages him.

However Sir Sean turned the offer down as he did not understand the complicated plot of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece.

If he had accepted the terms of the contract, which included a small fee but a large chunk of the film's future earnings, he would have earned more from a single screen role than any actor in the history of motion pictures.

The three films in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring (2000), The Two Towers (2001) and The Return of the King (2002), earned a total of £1.5 billion at the box office, which would have meant the former Bond actor would have earned between £150 million and £225 million.

The fee would have dwarfed the £23 million earned by Jack Nicholson under a similar deal for his role as The Joker in Batman, released in 1989.


The offer, which had previously remained confidential, was revealed in a new biography of Mr Jackson, entitled A Film-Maker's Journey by Brian Sibley.

In the book, Mr Jackson explained that he was under pressure from the producers to cast Sir Sean in the role, which eventually went to Sir Ian McKellen who was later nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.

Mr Jackson explained: "New Line were indicating that having a major name like Connery was necessary in order for them to green-light the film. They asked us if we would agree to send a copy of the Fellowship screenplay to Sean with a view to enticing him to play Gandalf.

"I couldn't imagine him wanting to spend eighteen months in New Zealand, and I didn't think they could afford his fee, but [Mark] Ordesky [the film's executive producer] told me New Line were going to offer a small fee in exchange for a large slice of the gross.

"Mark said New Line was prepared to give him between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the films' income. Some kind of offer must have gone in because in April 1999 the script was bundled off to Sean who read it - and declined the role."

At the time rumours swept through New Zealand that Sir Sean was taking the role and there were a number of fictitious sightings of the Scotsman.

The director said he had been concerned that despite the actor's ability, his fame would eclipse the role. Mr Jackson explained: "I felt Gandalf would take on a Sean Connery persona, with a long beard and robe."

Last year Sir Sean explained his decision to turn down the role: "Yeah, well, I never understood it. I read the book, I read the script, I saw the movie. I still don't understand it. I would be interested in doing something that I don't fully understand, but not for eighteen months."

Last night, the book's author Mr Sibley said: "I don't know if Sean Connery regrets not taking the role. I suspect not as he clearly did not warm to the material, but you can imagine him in the role; he would have brought a different strength and charisma.

Mr Jackson this week upset fans of Middle Earth by stating that he would not be directing The Hobbit, the prequel to The Lord of The Rings. The director is in dispute with New Line over earnings he believes he is still due from the sales of DVD and computer games based on the trilogy. It is understood that he has earned £103 million from the films.


THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

THIS is far from the first time an actor has rejected what turned out to be a blockbuster role.

• Sean Connery spurned the part of Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. It went to Christopher Plummer.

• Julia Roberts rejected the starring role in Basic Instinct and Sharon Stone got it instead.

• Tom Selleck turned down the Indiana Jones role in Raiders of the Lost Ark because he could not get out of the TV series Magnum. The second choice, Harrison Ford, became a superstar.

• Gene Hackman said no to the role of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Anthony Hopkins then got the part.

• Michelle Pfeiffer backed out of the role of agent Clarice Starling in the same film. As a result, Jodie Foster landed one of her biggest hits.

• George Raft turned down the role of hard-boiled private eye Sam Spade in the John Huston classic The Maltese Falcon, so giving Humphrey Bogart the role that kick-started his career.

• Al Pacino rejected the role of Elliot Ness in The Untouchables, leaving it to Kevin Costner to take over the job.

• Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood both turned down Beverly Hills Cop - the part of Axel Foley went to wise-cracking Eddie Murphy instead.
http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1747562006



"You'll just have to make do with the 20 bedroom mansion honey!"
 
Dec 30, 2004
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#6
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?

At Sean's age and wealth, a 3 movie commitment is a huge undertaking. There was no guarantee that LOTR was going to be good. Peter Jackson had a nice, indie career .. but no proof that he could handle a movie of this scope.
 
#12
As Toxic said, there was no way of knowing LOTR would be as big as it was. It's half the reason why Peter Jackson got turned down by almost every studio in Hollywood before he finally wound up with New Line. And 18 months is a hell of a committment, especially at his age.

And let's face it, Connery isn't exactly hurting for chips...hell he would'nt be able to live long enough to spend that dough anyway. :lol
 

Nerevar

they call me "Man Gravy".
Jun 15, 2004
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#19
Schattenjagger said:
glad he rejected it..

ian was superb and was the best choice :D
agreed. Worked out for the best.

And some of those "other actors to turn down famous roles" are ridiculous. Can you imagine Basic Instinct with Julia Roberts? Beverly Hills Cop with Clint Eastwood or Sylvester Stallone instead of Eddie Murphy? What were the casting directors thinking?
 
May 2, 2006
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#20
I don't see what there is to understand, really. It's not precisely as though one has to read the Silmarillion to "get" Gandalf. He's a very well executed example of a classic fantasy / hero's journey archetype.

Granted, it's hard to understand how exactly he can fight a Balrog and walk away the winner, especially after "dying," but it's not as if a slight Christ-like aspect is that hard to "get" either.

Perhaps Connery just looked at the character, and knew he wouldn't really be a good fit for it. I love Connery, but I don't think he would have been very good for this.

"AH WIZAHRD IZSH NEVARR LATE, FROHDO BAHGGANZ."
 

BocoDragon

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
Dec 5, 2005
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#21
Gotta say I agree.... LotR has always resembled pompous theology to me. When I finally made it to the end of the series, I couldn't believe that the goal of the entire enterprise was "Sauron is a big evil who must be stopped". He's got to be the least developed and most one-dimensional antagonist of all time.... and it was stretched out over three books/films!

LotR is all about the random details of the world... Elves, Humans, Evil, Good. If these don't interest you, I can't say that there is any compelling narrative to fall back on ("We have to defeat This Great Evil.... and that's pretty much the story!")
 
#22
I'm not sure about the other ones, but here's the deal regarding Stallone and BHC.

Sylvester Stallone was originally intended to play Axel Foley. After his departure due to differences in scope (he wanted more action the producers wouldn't budget for) the role was re-written for Murphy. Stallone went on to use his version of the film as the basis for his movie Cobra. An interesting plot re-write was that the character of Jenny Summers was originally a Stallone love interest, but was rendered only an "old friend" to Murphy's Foley.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly_Hills_Cop

I think this is also discussed in one of BHC's vinettes on the DVD.
 

Nerevar

they call me "Man Gravy".
Jun 15, 2004
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#26
Shinobi said:
I'm not sure about the other ones, but here's the deal regarding Stallone and BHC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly_Hills_Cop

I think this is also discussed in one of BHC's vinettes on the DVD.
Heh. So the directors of Beverly Hills Cop basically wanted to make a modern-day version of Dirty Harry? Good thing Stallone bailed on them then, because BHC is a classic, and I don't think even a well-written Cobra would approach Dirty Harry in terms of timelessness.
 

DrForester

Kills Photobucket
Jun 7, 2004
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#27
Didn't he also turned down a role in the Matrix Trilogy, or was that just a rumor? Supposedly he was offered the part of Morpheus for the first film, and later the Architect.
 

psycho_snake

I went to WAGs boutique and all I got was a sniff
Jul 4, 2004
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#28
Another actor who turned down a big role was Gwyneth paltrow. Im not saure if its true, but I heard that she was offered the role of Rose from titanic but she rejected it.

Im sure that Sir Sean didnt take the role just because he didnt understand the story. Having to stay in New Zealand for so long must have put him off too. Not just that but he didnt know how successful the film was going to be. If his deal was to get a chunk of the films earnings, then he could have ended up spending so much time and effort shooting the film in new zealand and receiving very little if the film turned out to be rubbish or he could have ended uop earning loads if the film was really successful. Unfortunately for him it was the latter and had Connery known that then he wouldnt have probably taken the chance, but then again he already has more money than he can spend so he didnt need to take it.
 

BocoDragon

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
Dec 5, 2005
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#32
Shinobi said:
Not sure about Connery, but Will Smith turned down the role of Neo. The project he chose instead? The Wild Wild West. :lol
Ouch.

That man is going to ruin I Am Legend... Now I know how Asimov fans feel :(
 
May 2, 2006
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#33
Oldschoolgamer said:
I can't imagine how The Matrix trilogy would have been with Will Smith in it. :lol
The same way it would have been with Sean Connery in it.

Not as good.

Will Smith doesn't really *do* "understated computer nerd." Which is funny, considering he turned down a scholarship to MIT in order to rap. :lol But no, he'd invariably throw some of that Will Smith, Action Hero schtick into the mix and it would stink up the film.
 
Jul 13, 2005
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#35
DrForester said:
Didn't he also turned down a role in the Matrix Trilogy, or was that just a rumor? Supposedly he was offered the part of Morpheus for the first film, and later the Architect.
Speaking of the Matrix, wasn't Will Smith cast to play Neo?

Edit: Crap, beaten.:(
 
May 2, 2006
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#36
I just tried to wrap my head around the architect scene with Sean Connery's thick brogue on every single word.

Oh god.

People were already complaining about not knowing what the **** was going on.
 

Wii

Banned
May 1, 2006
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#37
Instigator said:
The soundtrack of Matrix would have been different with Will Smith onboard. One has to wonder which classic song would be ripped and rearranged into a Will Smith tune.
Credits will have him rapping with Agent Smith
 

bud

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#40
However Sir Sean turned the offer down as he did not understand the complicated plot of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece.
ehm, frodo finds a ring....he must destroy it or middle earth is d00m3d.

So how much did ian mckellen make?
 
Jan 26, 2005
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#43
I read that Connery also passed on the Matrix (as Morphius) becasue he didn't "understand it". After the movie took off and he was kicking himself he said he wouldn't pass up another role just because he didn't get the material. Then he took the part in League of Extrodinary Gentleman...well, you know ;-)
 

whytemyke

Honorary Canadian.
Nov 12, 2004
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#44
I dunno if Will would have ****ed up the Matrix trilogy. He's a phenomenal actor, as he showcases in his newest movie Pursuit of Happiness.

It'd have been entertaining.

Pacino as Ellie Ness in Untouchables? Acting counter to Bob Deniro as Capone? Holy ****! That stairway scene would have been phenomenal, with Pacino screaming, "YOU WANT TO DO THIS? LETS DO IT RIGHT NOW!" as capone yells back "WHAT? WHAT? YOU WANT ME?"
 

demon

I don't mean to alarm you but you have dogs on your face
Jun 8, 2004
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#46
Mugen said:
Didn't Walken turn down the Han Solo role also?
lmao, that would've been priceless.

I'm still trying to imagine Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones. Wonder how that would've turned out...
 

zon

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#49
BocoDragon said:
Gotta say I agree.... LotR has always resembled pompous theology to me. When I finally made it to the end of the series, I couldn't believe that the goal of the entire enterprise was "Sauron is a big evil who must be stopped". He's got to be the least developed and most one-dimensional antagonist of all time.... and it was stretched out over three books/films!

LotR is all about the random details of the world... Elves, Humans, Evil, Good. If these don't interest you, I can't say that there is any compelling narrative to fall back on ("We have to defeat This Great Evil.... and that's pretty much the story!")
LotR is just a part of the story about Middle-earth. Hell, Sauron is not even the "Big Bad Boss", just a lackey. A very powerful lackey, true, but still just a lackey. :D

I saw someone comment on how Gandalf managed to defeat a Balrog...
Gandalf is not a human, which is why he can survive/overcome the things he did and why he can use magic. None of the wizards belong to the "normal" races (human/dwarf/elf), they belong to a servant race made by Middle-earths creator.

(It's been a while since I read anything about Middle-earth so cut me some slack if something isn't 100% correct :p)
 
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