James Bond: Sean Connery’s genuine terror was captured in this dangerous Thunderball scene

Trailer for 1965 James Bond classic Thunderball

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Following Dr No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, 1965’s Thunderball was set to be even bigger for Sean Connery’s James Bond. On a budget that was more than the last three 007 movies combined, the Hollywood star even performed the gun-barrel sequence for the first time himself. 

Thunderball, which is on ITV today at 4pm, famously features a number of underwater scuba diving scenes in which Connery’s Bond encounters sharks.

When filming, he was supposed to be protected by clear plastic panels shielding in the close-up.

However, the only problem was that these only extended around three feet in height and the predators could swim over them. 

As a result, the 007 star ended up getting much closer to them, especially during the pool fight at Largo’s mansion.

Thunderball director Terence Young later said that there are scenes in the movie where Bond is reacting to the sharks, which are miscues. 

So it’s actually Connery reacting in actual fear at a shark approaching him beyond the plastic shielding.

This wasn’t the only thing to frustrate the Scottish star, who after four 007 movies was now world-famous; something he struggled with despite all the benefits.

The actor was becoming agitated with all press intrusion amid his own marriage difficulties with Diane Cilento. 

As a result, Connery refused to engage with the journalists and photographers who followed him around Nassau.

He said at the time: “I find that fame tends to turn one from an actor and a human being into a piece of merchandise, a public institution. Well, I don’t intend to undergo that metamorphosis.”

As filming concluded on Thunderball he gave a single interview to Playboy and even turned down a big payday to feature in a promotional TV special for NBC called The Incredible World of James Bond. 

Nevertheless, the Scottish legend didn’t lose his sense of humour, as recounted by Bond girl Martine Beswick.

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Beswick, who previously played a Bond girl in From Russia with Love recalled: “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.”

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