Roger Moore and Sean Connery’s sneaky meetings over future of Bond | Films | Entertainment

Octopussy: Roger Moore stars as James Bond in 1983 trailer

Octopussy, back on TV today, was the final James Bond outing written by Ian Fleming. It was serialised in two parts in Playboy magazine after the author’s 1964 death.

Roger Moore returned as 007 in the 1983 big screen adaptation at the last minute, having announced he was quitting the role.

US actor James Brolin had actually been cast (watch his screen test below) but producers were nervous since Sean Connery was making a highly publicised return to the role the same year.

Bond producer Michael G Wilson confessed to writer Ramon Sanchez that he feared it could be the end of the franchise.

In spy-worthy style, wily Moore seized the opportunity and also had secret meetings with Sean Connery.

Sean Connery and Roger Moore

Sean Connery and Roger Moore’s sneaky secret meetings over James Bond (Image: GETTY)

Roger Moore and Bond Girl Maud Adams in Octopussy

Roger Moore and Bond Girl Maud Adams in Octopussy (Image: GETTY)

Following 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, the official Bond producers at EON were lining up Octopussy, when maverick producer Jack Shwartzman signed up Connery to return in a rival unauthorised production, to be released the same year.

Never Say Never Again also had a considerably higher budget, at $36million to Octopussy’s $27million. So how did Moore feel about Connery returning to challenge him as Bond? And who did the ticket-buying public choose in this Battle of the Bonds?

Once the films were in the can and heading to cinemas, Moore spilled the beans on national television.

James Bond: James Brolin stars in Octopussy screen test

Moore said on US TV: « Of course, Jack Schwartzman came to me and asked me if I wanted to do that (Never Say Never Again), or did I want to do this (Octopussy). So, yes, of course, that gave me a certain amount of leverage.

« I said to Sean, ‘Which one do you want to do?’ and he didn’t want to do the one with Cubby, so I’m here and he’s there. »

Connery and Broccoli had famously fallen out badly towards the end of the Scot’s tenure in the role and refused to be on set at the same during the filming of 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.

 Sean Connery hugs Roger Moore

Sean Connery hugs Roger Moore at the party to celebrate his knighthood, (Image: GETTY)

Ever the suave charmer, Moore later spoke of the situation in his autobiography, My Word Is My Bond.

He said: « There was no animosity between Sean and me. We didn’t react to the press speculation that we had become competitors in the part. In fact, we often had dinner together and compared notes about how much we’d each shot and how our respective producers were trying to kill us with all the action scenes they expected us to do. »

Moore insisted the two actors were rivals: « No more than two jockeys who are going to be paid anyway for running the race. But it would be nice if you won because you’d get the extra bonus. But really, no more than that. Sean and I are friends. »

Sean Connery as Bond with Barbara Bach and Kim Basinger

Sean Connery as Bond with Barbara Bach and Kim Basinger (Image: FS)

When asked why the public would want to see the same film character twice in one year, Moore smoothly replied that theatre-gioers happily went to see more than one production of Hamlets or A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

When the interviewers swiftly asked which his version of Bond was, Moore drily quipped, « Hamlet. »

The first person to make a public choice between Moore and Connery was Barbara Carrera, who turned down the lead in Octopussy because she wanted to work with The Scot.

The end of year box office charts showed who the public had ultimately chosen.

Every Bond Girl listed

Every Bond Girl listed (Image: GETTY)

Octopussy was released in June with Never Say Never Again following in October. All eyes were on the final box office totals as the definitive answer to which Bond the public preferred.

Connery’s final Bond outing banked $160million on its $36million budget. Moore’s official Bond movie took $187.5million on a $28million budget.

The two men, of course, simply remained huge friends their whole lives – and only shaken and stirred (and doubtless deeply amused) by the bump to their bank balances.

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