Connery at odds with film director

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SIR Sean Connery’s latest movie has been plunged into chaos after a series of heated arguments erupted between him and the director, it emerged last night.

The Scottish actor confirmed yesterday that the atmosphere on the set of his new film, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, has descended into an embarrassing shambles.

He said the multi-million dollar production, currently filming in Prague, has been dogged with problems for months. "There have been differences of opinion about almost everything," said Sir Sean. "Professional differences, personal differences, you name it.

"But my philosophy has been to shoot the movie and talk about right and wrong afterwards. To be honest, I just want to complete the picture. That’s all I want right now."

According to reports, the main problem centres on a long-running dispute between Sir Sean, 72, and the film’s director, Stephen Norrington.

This comes on the back of a row with another film company, Mandalay Entertainment, which Sir Sean is suing for 11 million. He claims it backed out of a film deal to finance End Game and that the company’s chairman, Peter Guber, misled him about its ability to finance the film, a thriller he had agreed to star in and produce.

The respected US film magazine, Entertainment Weekly, carried a report yesterday claiming the bad atmosphere on the set of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen almost resulted in a physical fight between the feuding pair. Norrington was said to have shut down the set for the day after a elephant gun prop did not look quite right.

"The director will not say what exactly was wrong with it - in fact, he will not talk to journalists at all, about any subject, on or off the record - but sources say Connery was so angry he threatened to have Norrington fired."

According to press accounts, Norrington was livid too. "I’m sick of it! Come on, I want you to punch me in the face," he was quoted as saying.

Sources dismissed speculation, however, that the two initially traded punches. A source said that Sir Sean ended the argument by turning his back and walking off the set.

The problems started in August, just as filming began, when tempers frayed over extensive flooding in Eastern Europe. More than $7 million worth of sets - including a makeshift submarine prop - were destroyed by the bad weather.

Production was delayed by at least two weeks as cast and crew scattered across the continent due to emergency evacuations. Fleeing his suite at the Four Seasons hotel, Sir Sean got caught up in the drama, managing to rescue only his golf clubs.

Then came the shouting matches between the former James Bond actor and

Norrington, 38, a British-born former effects artist whose last directorial effort was 1998’s Blade.

The two clashed almost daily, confided one co-star, who asked not to be identified. "They both have really powerful personalities. Sean has strong feelings for how he wants things to be. He wants to get the shoot done.

"Stephen hasn’t been around as long, but he’s a quasi-genius. He likes to change things on the spot and try stuff out. And he doesn’t care if it’s Brad Pitt or whoever - he wants to stick to his way."

"Connery isn’t very pleased with how this is going," said another crew member. "He’s not used to being kept waiting on a set. I mean, he’s 72 years old. And he’s Sean Connery."

Yet another set insider, again quoted on the condition of anonymity, sympathised with Sir Sean. "This director doesn’t know what he wants," he said. "He shoots an enormous amount of film. He’ll do ten set-ups 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."

The $100 million Twentieth Century Fox adaptation of Alan Moore’s cult comic book, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is scheduled to open in America next July.

Sir Sean stars as swashbuckling adventurer Allan Quatermain, who leads a band of friends fighting crime in 19th century London.

Yesterday he made no attempt to play down the real-life drama.

"Oh yes, it’s been difficult. Very, very difficult. There’s no question about it," he said.

Last week it was reported that a planned cameo appearance for Sir Sean in the latest James Bond instalment, Die Another Day, might be edited out from the completed movie.

The actor, who became a legend after playing the first on-screen Bond, filmed a small role depicting the father of the spy hero, now played by Pierce Brosnan, for the forthcoming movie.

However, just before the release of the action movie, the film’s bosses, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, are said to have been advised that Bond is an orphan in the original Ian Fleming novels, forcing them to scrap the plot.

Connery rocketed to international fame as the suave, confident (and many say definitive) Secret Agent 007 in six of Ian Fleming’s Bond movies: Dr. No (1962), Goldfinger (1964), From Russia, With Love (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), and Diamonds are Forever (1971).

He resurfaced as a much wiser and more mature Bond in the 1983 adventure, Never Say Never Again.

Many critics and fans alike have said the quality of his acting has only improved with age.