Sean Connery’s King Richard in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves almost played by comedy star

Sean Connery jokes about people with ‘shirts hanging out’ in 1997

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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves hit cinemas over 30 years ago with an incredible cast including Kevin Costner, Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman. But who could forget that former James Bond star Sir Sean Connery played King Richard returning from the Crusades right at the end of the movie? But did you. know it wasn’t always going to be the late Hollywood legend who died in 2020 in that part.

It turns out originally there was a push to have Monty Python star John Cleese playing King Richard.

However, it was screenwriter and producer Pen Densham who wanted Connery in the role instead.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the latter said of Cleese: “I couldn’t stomach that because I felt all of the care, all of the investment, all the love, all the effort that the characters were playing all came down to a joke.”

Densham then boldly contacted the former Bond’s agent asking if he would play the medieval monarch in an uncredited cameo.

Densham said: “Passion empowers you, whereas technique doesn’t.

“I so wanted to not have the John Cleese that I said, ‘Would you give me Sean Connery?

“‘We can’t give him a credit because you can’t have the audience waiting for the whole movie to see him — but he only has to work one day.”’

The Bond legend’s agent, CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz, agreed – but requested a fee of $1 million.

Sean Connery speaks in 1983 about taking the James Bond role

However, Densham told Connery’s agent: “No. No. You don’t understand, we’re already over budget.

“We can’t afford that, but I guarantee you that it will be a part of film history.”

So in the end, the original 007 agreed to play King Richard for $250,000, which would be donated to a Scottish hospital.

The iconic cameo scene in question takes place right at the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when Connery’s monarch interrupts the outlaw’s wedding to Maid Marian.

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Connery’s King Richard thanks Robin for saving the throne and gives the bride away.

Four years later, the Hollywood legend would play King Arthur in First Knight, while he also portrayed an ageing Robin Hood opposite Audrey Hepburn in 1976’s Robin and Marian.

Meanwhile, the Bond star had acted alongside Cleese in Terry Gillam’s Time Bandits.

In fact, the Monty Python actor who almost played King Richard actually portrayed Robin Hood in the 1981 film.


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