What Went Wrong:
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

By Shalimar Sahota

January 5, 2011

Sean Connery and the film's director finally have a showdown.

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Alan Moore and the graphic novel’s illustrator, Kevin O’Neill, claimed to have based the character of Allan Quatermain on Sean Connery, so Norrington met with the man himself, who agreed to do the film. His reason was that he had previously turned down roles in The Matrix and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, citing how he didn’t understand them, yet they became huge successes. He felt compelled not to make the same mistake again. Connery was paid $17 million, and being credited as an executive producer meant he also had his way when it came to character changes, like refusing to play Quatermain as an opium addict, as in the graphic novel. I’m also willing to bet that he possibly reworked the script to have his character die because he didn’t want to come back and work on any potential sequel.

Troubles began in August 2002, when the shoot in Prague (doubling for Venice in the film) came to a standstill after the city was hit by the worst floods in over a century, destroying sets worth $7 million. As if this message from God wasn’t enough, causing filming to be delayed by around two weeks, Fox showed no compassion whatsoever towards Norrington, refusing to offer more time, yet still expecting to open the film on their set date: July 11, 2003. As the shooting schedule shifted to Malta so sets could be rebuilt, it’s likely that a frustrated Norrington was now finding it difficult to achieve what he wanted, and completing the film turned into a rush job.


It was in November 2002 when the cast and crew came back to Prague to finish an action sequence on newly rebuilt sets, and whatever was brewing between Connery and Norrington finally came to the attention of the world. They apparently almost came to blows, after a prop elephant gun that didn’t look quite right caused Norrington to shut the set down for the day. An infuriated Connery threatened to have Norrington fired. One unnamed source recalls Norrington reacting by telling Connery, “Come on, I want you to punch me in the face,” whereas Connery recalls him saying, “Do you want to hit me?” to which he responded, “Don’t tempt me.” Connery simply walked off the set.

There’s even a bizarre rumor that Connery kicked Norrington out of the edit suite, though producer Don Murphy explains that Connery never even set foot in there, and that Norrington simply worked with his editor Paul Rubell, delivering his cut of the film on March 2003. One unnamed source says Norrington only supervised the editing of three of the film’s seven reels, while another says he was still working on it just days before its release. Whether Norrington’s cut is the one that was screened theatrically is uncertain. Norrington has remained quiet about the making of the film, given that he doesn’t really do any promotion or give interviews. He does appear talking to his actors on the special edition DVD, though he is never talking to the camera. He didn’t even turn up for the premiere of the film. Connery fulfilled his duties in promoting the film, going to the premiere and doing press interviews.

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