Standing at 6’2, Sean Connery probably remains the most physically imposing of all the James Bond actors. A former boxer and nightclub bouncer who mixed in tough circles in his early years, the Scottish actor didn’t just rock the part. It’s true that it had taken a few drinks on set to finish filming the iconic opening casino scene and the iconic “Bond, James Bond” line in his first film, Dr. No, but even after he became a huge star, he was still being human, and we share one of our most primal fears. Unsurprisingly, he was utterly horrified when he learned of the plans for a central scene in the franchise’s fourth film. Director Terence Young later admitted that some shots of Connery’s horror were actually very real.
Bond fans should look out for the classic Thunderball pool scene with some extra unwanted guests with dead eyes and sharp teeth.
Much of the 1965 film takes place in the Bahamas when Bond is sent to retrieve two nuclear warheads stolen by Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). The famous eyepatch-wearing villain keeps sharks in his pool, just like you. When Bond first visits, Largo boasts that they are sharks from the Golden Grotto named after a local reef and “the most dangerous and wildest sharks” in the world.
In real life, this is not true, there is no such breed. On screen, the secret agent simply replies, “Lovely,” but when it came time to film his close encounter with the toothy pets, Connery lost his cool. The danger was very real and then too close for comfort when two major things went wrong.
Connery was only convinced to go through with the scene after a Plexiglas screen was built into the pool, separating him from the sharks. He was also told that dead sharks would be used for part of the filming, dragged through the water on invisible cables.
However, production designer Ken Adam later confessed, “What I didn’t tell Sean was that he could only get a limited amount of Plexiglas.” In fact, there was still a gap left.
Connery and the stunt supervisor were still in the water when one of the supposedly dead ‘stunt sharks’ not only came back to life but also found a way through the poorly made safety glass.
WATCH THE TERRIFY THUNDER SCENE BELOW
At the end of the scene on the screen, Bond emerges from the pool, closely pursued by a shark. While filming, he suddenly realized that the deadly predator was, in fact, very much alive and closing in. The actor frantically swam to the edge of the pool and threw himself out.
Special effects coordinator John Stears later revealed that the shark was unexpectedly still alive and had begun to thrash around. Worse still, there was room for the living to pass on the other side of the supposedly protective glass.
The sharks will attack an injured one and a horrifying feeding frenzy erupted, as Stears yelled, “Get me out of here.”
Sharks plagued the entire shoot of the film, and all the major underwater scenes in the sea had to be shot at very low tide, due to the number of wild sharks 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 a hilarious moment.
She said: “One time, we’d finished filming for the day, and there were hundreds of people hanging out on the beach, all roped off watching. Sean called the on-set hairdresser, ‘Here, you,’ and then he just took off his quiff. and tossed it to the hairdresser.
“The hairpiece flew like a frisbee and when the groomer caught it, Sean was like, ‘That’s it, I’m leaving.’ The whole world collapsed. It was the most fun.”
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