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The cast list for Sam Mendes’ Skyfall is so impressive – decked with thespians ranging from Dame Judi Dench to Ralph Fiennes – that we hardly bat an eye at the mention of Albert Finney. Why wouldn’t he be involved in this extremely British production, right? But you get through the bulk of Skyfall, and Finney hasn’t shown face. Then he does (in a role I’ll dance around, just in case those reading this haven’t seen the latest James Bond thriller yet).
Here’s where things get interesting: Mendes tells The Huffington Post that the part almost went to original Bond Sean Connery. At least, he was considered. Here’s Mendes:
There was a definite discussion about that -- way, way early on,” Mendes explains. “But I think that's problematic. Because, to me, it becomes too ... it would take you out of the movie. Connery is Bond and he's not going to come back as another character. It's like, he's been there. So, it was a very brief flirtation with that thought, but it was never going to happen, because I thought it would distract.”
And he’s exactly right. It would … though the part is written to have a direct connection back to Bond’s roots, to his legacy, and so if you ever were going to try and work a previous Bond actor into a contemporary Bond story, that would be the right way to do it.
Yet, it’s unclear whether Connery even would have been remotely interested in the gig. The Oscar winner hasn’t acted on screen since 2003, making the unfortunate League of Extraordinary Gentlemen his last performance credit (to date). But I tend to agree with Mendes that Connery’s presence would have been distracting, meaning the casting of Finney was just another in a long line of wise decisions made by the Skyfall director during his process.