Legendary actor Sean Connery, who played James Bond for decades, made puzzling choices during his career that baffled fans and Hollywood. His refusal to play Morpheus in The Matrix and Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most egregious examples. The fact that Connery didn’t get the plots explains a lot, but it still blows my mind that he turned down all these roles.
Morpheus: A Role Tailor-Made for Laurence Fishburne
An early offer for the pivotal role of Morpheus in the groundbreaking science fiction film The Matrix went to Sean Connery. The film’s protagonist, Neo, is guided by this wise teacher through a mind-bending journey of self-discovery and rebellion against the machines that control human reality.
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Sean Connery was originally cast as the lead, but Laurence Fishburne got the part because he “clicked” better with the script. Fishburne’s portrayal of Morpheus, which captured the character’s wisdom, strength, and unyielding belief in the chosen one, left an indelible mark on cinema.
Although it’s hard to picture anyone Fishburne in this iconic role, Connery’s charisma and charm would have brought something new to the role of Morpheus. Fans will always wonder how Connery would have portrayed The Matrix’s lead if he had accepted the role.
Gandalf: A Quest Connery Opted Not to Embark Upon
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, originally written by J.R.R. Tolkien, was adapted for the big screen by Peter Jackson, and the result is a cinematic masterpiece. Jackson wanted Sean Connery to play the wise and powerful wizard Gandalf, much to the delight of fans.
Jackson was so set on having Sean Connery in the films that he persuaded the producers to give him a staggering $10 million per film, plus a 15% share of the box office earnings of the trilogy, for a potential payout of around $400 million.
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Unfortunately, Connery turned down the role because he couldn’t understand the script. Fortunately, the legendary British actor Ian McKellen was chosen. McKellen received worldwide acclaim and an indelible place in the hearts of fans for his portrayal of Gandalf, which became a benchmark of cinematic wizardry.
While the “what if” of Sean Connery as Gandalf remains tantalizing, McKellen’s embodiment of the character was a masterstroke, captivating audiences with his commanding presence and warm, witty wisdom.
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: A Bittersweet Gamble
Sean Connery accepted the role of Allan Quatermain in the 2003 film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen despite having trouble connecting with the script for a second time. Unfortunately, the expected result did not follow from this choice.
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Due to poor reviews and box office results, the film’s potential to launch a lucrative franchise was effectively ended. The fact that Sean Connery turned down roles as Morpheus and Gandalf in his career is fascinating.
It’s easy to get caught up in wondering what might have been if Connery had helmed these roles, but it’s just as important to recognize the incredible work of Fishburne and McKellen. Their acting was so good that they created cultural icons who were even more beloved than the originals.