The United Artists head oversaw the Bond movies and was stunned when he learned Connery would not be back as 007 for his sixth film and he set about winning the Scot back for one more film, 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.
Picker tells BlogTalkRadio.com, “We approved everything but we weren’t there for the day in and day out stuff of making the movie, so we were not aware that there was a problem with Sean. We had renegotiated the producers’ deal several times because of the success of the movies and it turned out these guys had never gone to Sean and renegotiated his deal. They just figured he was lucky to have the role.
“When Sean said, ‘OK fellas, I’m outta here,’ we didn’t understand the reason why, and the producers obviously didn’t want to tell us about the way they had treated him. We went and found a very nice gentleman in George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which the public was clearly not interested seeing as James Bond.
“After we flopped with Lazenby we had to get Sean back, so I met with Sean and it turned out they had treated him really badly. I worked out a deal I thought Sean would respond to, where he’d only have to do one more movie for us. (I said), ‘If you do one movie more for James Bond we will make a three-picture deal with you where you can make any picture up to a certain budget.
“Sean came back and obviously revived the series and only made one movie under that deal. It was The Offence, playing a sadistic policeman; a very good movie which never found an audience. Sean never forgot that I was the one for him to get back and he’s been very complimentary about that over the years. I saw him at a dinner party in Los Angeles four or five years ago. When I saw him he said, ‘David Picker is the only movie executive who I ever liked!'”
Connery actually made one more film as Bond – he played 007 in 1983’s Never Say Never Again. He was officially replaced by Roger Moore.