James Bond: ‘Terrified’ Sean Connery refused famous Thunderball scene ‘No bloody way’

Connery didn’t just look the part to play 007. At 6’2, the strapping star was a former boxer who had tangled with gangsters in his past as a nightclub bouncer. Yet, when he read the script for the fourth film in the iconic franchise, even he was absolutely horrified by one particular scene. Watching the movie, Bond, of course, is perfectly suave at all times and brimming with cool and casual quips. Behind the scenes there were some dangerous near misses that had the star and his stuntmen screaming. Director Terence Young later admitted that some shots of Connery’s terror were actually very real. SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH THE SCENE FROM THUNDERBALL

Much of the 1965 film takes place in the Bahamas as Bond is sent in to retrieve two warheads stolen by Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). The eyepatch-toting villain famously keeps sharks in his swimming pool (as you do).

When Bond first visits, Largo boasts they are Golden Grotto sharks named after a local reef and “the most dangerous and savage” sharks in the world. 

In real life this isn’t actually true, no such breed exists. On screen, the secret agent simply replies, “Charming”, but when it came to filming his close encounter with the toothy pets, the danger was very real and far too close for comfort when two major things went wrong.

When 007 breaks back into the compound at night, he falls into the pool fighting with one of Largo’s henchman. They are trapped under a retractable cover as a hatch lifts and sharks pour in.

After an extremely close escape, Bond drawls: “Sorry old chap, better luck next time.”

All good, tongue-in-cheek Bond fun. However, Connery had initially refused to shoot the scene at all and shouted “Not bloody likely” when he first read the script.

The actor only agreed to go ahead and get in the pool with the sharks if certain safety measures were put into place. On the day of the filming, the two most important ones both completely failed. 

At the end of the scene on screen, Bond pulls himself out of the pool closely pursued by a shark. As he was filming, he suddenly realised the deadly predator was, in fact, very much alive and closing in. The actor swam frantically to the edge of the pool and hurled himself out.

Special effects coordinator John Stears later revealed the shark was unexpectedly still alive and had begun to thrash. Even worse, there was space for the live ones on the other side of the supposedly protective glass to get through.

Sharks will attack an injured one and a horrifying feeding frenzy erupted, as Stears screamed, “Get me out of here.”

Sharks plagued the entire film shoot, with all the main underwater scenes at sea having to be shot at very low tide, due to the number of wild ones in the area.

Back safely on dry land, Connery was much more playful, and Thunderball Bond Girl Martine Beswick, who plays CIA agent Paula Caplan, recounted one hilarious moment.

She said: “One time, we’d finished filming for the day, and there were hundreds of people milling around on the beach, all roped off watching. Sean called to the set hairdresser, ‘Here, you’, and then he simply pulled off his toupée and threw it at the hairdresser.

“The hairpiece sailed over like a Frisbee and as the hairdresser caught it, Sean said something like, ‘That’s it, I’m off.’ Everyone just collapsed. It was the funniest thing.”

THUNDERBALL IS ON ITV TODAY AT 4.05PM