The world of Middle Earth was transpired and revolutionized by director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the franchise fans know today would have looked entirely different if legend Sean Connery had accepted the role of Gandalf.
Legendary author J.R.R. Tolkien changed the world with the Shire, hobbits, Mordor, and the One Ring. Half a decade after The Lord of the Rings hit bookshelves and revolutionized pop culture literature, director Peter Jackson infused Tolkien’s Rings with award-winning themes that broke Hollywood and the fantasy genre of film-making.
The ensemble cast of the Rings trilogy is irreplaceable and undoubtedly iconic. It’s impossible to think of any other actors to fill the shoes of Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Viggo Mortensen (Aragon/King Elessar), Gollum (Andy Serkis), and more. But Gandalf wasn’t always Sir Ian McKellen’s.
Legendary James Bond actor Sean Connery (The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Rock) was reportedly the first choice for the role of Gandalf the wizard, but the Dr. No (1962) actor turned it down.
As a result, Connery lost upwards of $400 million:
Did you know? Sean Connery was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but turned the role down. He was offered 15% of the film’s total box office receipts, which would’ve totaled over $400 million
Did you know? Sean Connery was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but turned the role down. He was offered 15% of the film’s total box office receipts, which would’ve totaled over $400 million pic.twitter.com/QRknoAhQuY
— Film Codex (@FilmCodex) May 18, 2022
Like legendary actor Tom Hanks taking box-office percentage points on Forrest Gump (1994), which reportedly earned Hanks roughly $62 million, Sean Connery was reportedly offered %15 of the total Lord of the Rings box office take.
While it’s possible that this percentage point estimate could be off, Sean Connery would have made a cool $400 million for playing Gandalf the White.
Though every Rings fan can’t imagine having any other actor than Ian McKellen playing Gandalf through The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003), it’s fascinating to realize that James Bond nearly led the fellowship into the Mines of Moria and the Black Gate of Mordor.
Now, the legacy of Tolkien is expanding with Amazon’s Rings of Power series.
More about The Rings of Power
Taking place in the episodic Second Age of Middle Earth, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power chronicles the construction of the One Ring worn by dark lord Sauron under Mount Doom:
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne in the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
The near $1 billion series is set to focus on the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the historic alliance between Elves and Men (that transcended the entire franchise), the island of Númenor/Westernesse, as well as a look into Khazad‐dûm/Moria before the dwarven kingdom fell to hoards of goblins and the deadly Balrog/Durin’s Bane.
However, unfortunately, you won’t be seeing any of the legendary hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Bilbo Baggins (Sir Ian Holm), Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), Merry Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan), Pippen Took (Billy Boyd), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gandalf the White (Sir Ian McKellen), Saruman (Sir Christopher Lee), Gollum (Andy Serkis), and more in Rings of Power.
Dark Lord Sauron is set to have a massive role in The Rings of Power. Still, the series features a relatively unknown cast of lead and supporting actors that are set to play some of the most formative names in Elrond (Robert Aramayo), Lady Galadriel of Lothlórien (Morfydd Clark), and Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), replacing Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving.
New characters like Dwarven Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete), silvan elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), and Cole (Maxim Baldry) have been created specifically for the series (seen below).
Showrunner Patrick McKay and writer JD Payne pen the tentative series with directors JA Bayona and Wayne Che Yip leading the Rings show set to debut on September 2, 2022.
Do you think LOTR would be the same if Sean Connery played Gandalf? Comment below!