'League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen' Behind-The-Scenes Stories

Sean Connery has turned down a lot of big roles, which is why he took the gig as Allan Quatermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But while Alan Moore's graphic novel series was great, the same can hardly be said for the film adaptation (although some consider it a guilty pleasure comic book movie). Behind-the-scenes stories about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen started leaking out during production of the film, and they sound portentous; in retrospect, these rumors ended up being quite prescient - as much as the film was a mess on screen, the off-screen goings-on were much worse.

From screaming matches to studio overreach to nature wreaking havoc on the production, LXG never really had a chance. If you saw this movie in theaters, there's a good chance you didn't know some things about how it came to be - otherwise, you would have seen something better.  

  • Director Stephen Norrington And Sean Connery Fought About Absolutely Everything

    Sean Connery and director Stephen Norrington did not get along. "Connery isn’t very pleased with how this is going,” a crew member told Entertainment Weekly. ”He’s not used to being kept waiting on a movie set. I mean, he’s 72 years old. And he’s Sean Connery.” That crew member was referring to their current situation, which saw Connery sitting in his trailer for several hours while Norrington fussed with camera angles and lighting. 

    And before you go assuming Connery was just being an over-demanding actor, it's worth noting more complaints came out of the crew about Norrington. "This director doesn’t know what he wants,” another crew member complained to EW. "He’ll do 10 setups when you usually only do two. Most of this movie is going to end up on the cutting-room floor - if it ever gets finished.”

  • Production Shut Down For A Full Day Because A Prop Didn't Look Realistic Enough

    The best example of director Stephen Norrington's tyranny is the time he shut down production for a full day because he felt a prop didn't look sufficiently realistic. This led to one of the many "shouting matches" between Sean Connery and Norrington, one that was even rumored to result in a physical altercation between the two, with some saying they almost came to blows, while others reported they actually did throw punches.

    A stagehand told EW, "I’ve never been on a set as tense as this. Everybody just wants to go home.”

  • Stephen Norrington May Have Even Told Sean Connery To Punch Him

    There were a lot of different stories coming out of the set, often contradictory ones about the exact way things went down between Sean Connery and Stephen Norrington. An anonymous crew worker said Norrington provoked Connery, allegedly saying, “I'm sick of it! Come on, I want you to punch me in the face.”

    Connery recalls Norrington simply asking, “Do you want to hit me?” to which he responded, “Don’t tempt me.” There did seem to be some agreement that Connery threatened to have Norrington fired. In the end, it's remarkable they finished the movie together at all.

  • Connery Accepted The Role Because He'd Just Passed On Two Successful Films He Didn't Understand

    Sean Connery famously turned down the role of Gandalf in the first Lord of the Rings film as well as that of Morpheus in The Matrix. Obviously, from a financial standpoint, these moves were ill-advised at best. But when Connery read the scripts, he just couldn't understand what they were trying to do, so he passed.

    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was no different. Connery read the script, concluded it was another nerdy project, then accepted the role of Allan Quatermain precisely for the same reason he passed on the previous two roles. That proved to be another grand miscalculation. 

  • Norrington's Experience Directing 'LXG' Was So Bad He Promised Never To Direct Another Movie

    Norrington's Experience Directing 'LXG' Was So Bad He Promised Never To Direct Another Movie
    Photo: Count3D / flickr

    Stephen Norrington only has a few directorial credits under his belt, but a couple are rather big: Blade in 1998, then The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, released in 2003. As of 2019, he hasn't directed anything since. Perhaps that isn't too surprising because, following the production of LXG, he claimed he'd never direct another movie.

    That said, Norrington has been involved in other film projects, and has even been slated to direct a couple of big films since, namely a long-rumored reboot of The Crow, but he dropped out of that project (which has yet to be made anyway), as well as an unmade supernatural thriller titled The Lost Patrol. Since it seems like he's tried fervently to return to directing, he'll probably be at the helm of another film before it's all said and done.

  • The Source Material Was Largely Ignored Due To Proprietary Necessities And Executive Overreach

    There is no Tom Sawyer in the graphic novel version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That was an addition made by Fox, possibly to make the movie more attractive to American audiences.

    What's more, Fox couldn't get the rights to some of the characters, like The Invisible Man. In the movie, he's simply an invisible man - a guy with the made-up name Rodney Skinner - who manages to get his hands on an experimental substance that allows him to become invisible, as opposed to him being the creator of said innovation as The Invisible Man is in the source material. Dorian Grey (Stuart Townsend) was also added, presumably to inject a little more (apparent) youth into the project.