Sean Connery and F. Murray Abraham engaged in “playground” tactics on The Name of the Rose, according to director Jean-Jacques Annaud.
With a career that goes back nearly 50 years, director Jean-Jacques Annaud was bound to run into some troublesome actors. But the French filmmaker has been relatively lucky – and it wasn’t Brad Pitt or Jude Law or Two Brothers’ Kumal and Sangha that gave him headaches, it was F. Murray Abraham.
Speaking at the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon, France (via Deadline), Jean-Jacques Annaud said that working with F. Murray Abraham on 1986’s The Name of the Rose – a 4K presentation of which was screened at the festival – was a nightmare compared to what he expected from his co-star. “Everybody warned me that Sean Connery was impossible and an extremely difficult character. He was an absolute dream and I got on with him fantastically…My only bad memory of an actor across my whole career, and I’ve directed, I think, thousands of actors, was F. Murray Abraham, who played the inquisitor…He was terrible, not so much with me, but rather with Sean. He would say, ‘I’ve got the Oscar, and he’s an old idiot’. They would both arrive late because Sean didn’t want to wait for F. Murray, and F. Murray didn’t want to wait for Sean… it was like the school playground.” Of note, Connery and Abraham would both later appear in 2000’s Finding Forrester.
When it all came to blows, however, Jean-Jacques Annaud won out, as the director shifted the schedule around to meet Abraham’s apparent primadonna ways. From there, he had a team of lawyers on hand, telling his star, “You’re going to stay here and pay your costs out of your own pocket’. He looked at me and said, ‘Touché’. He stayed on at his own cost and we shot his final scene on the last day.”
But Jean-Jacques Annaud’s account of on-set difficulties with F. Murray Abraham may not be much of a surprise. Abraham was reportedly canned from Mythic Quest over sexual misconduct. Connery passed away in 2020 at the age of 90.
The Name of the Rose is actually quite a good movie, worth checking out for the aforementioned leads and an early turn from Christian Slater.