Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born August 25 1930) is an Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, and BAFTA Award-winning Scottish actor and producer who is perhaps best known as the first actor to portray James Bond in cinema, starring in seven Bond films. In 1987, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables. Sir Sean Connery was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July 2000.
Connery is known for retaining his Scottish accent in films, regardless of the nationality of the character played. Despite being older than most contemporary sex symbols, he has repeatedly been named as one of the most attractive men alive by various magazines due to his rugged looks.
His first job was as a milkman in Edinburgh with St. Cuthbert's Co-operative Society. He then joined the Royal Navy, but was later discharged on medical grounds because of a duodenal ulcer. Afterwards, he returned to the co-op, then worked at other jobs, including a lorry driver, a labourer, artist's model for the Edinburgh College of Art, coffin polisher, and bodybuilder.
According to Connery's official website, he placed - in the 1953 Mr. Universe bodybuilding contest. Fellow competitor, Johnny Isaacs, suggested he audition for a stage production of South Pacific. This led Connery to stage, television, and film work. A prominent television role was in Rudolph Cartier's 1961 production of Anna Karenina for BBC Television, in which he co-starred with Claire Bloom. He also acted in Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) starring Albert Sharpe.
When he was younger, Connery was a keen footballer, having played for a team called Bonnyrigg Rose. He was even offered a trial with East Fife. While on tour with the cast of South Pacific, Connery was involved in a football match against a local team that Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United, happened to be scouting at the time. According to reports, Busby offered Connery a contract worth £25-a-week immediately after the game. Connery admits that he was tempted to accept the offer, but he recalls "I realised that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23. I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.
His first American television role was as a porter in an episode of The Jack Benny Show.
The imposing, yet light-footed, actor was co-discovered by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli after other aspirants to the Bond role were eliminated, including David Niven (later to play Bond in the spoof Casino Royale, in 1967), Cary Grant, and James Mason; the latter two refused to commit to a film series. The low budget forced the producers to hire an unknown actor.
James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, doubted the casting, saying, "He's not what I envisioned of James Bond looks" and "I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man," adding that Connery (muscular, 6' 2", and a Scot) was unrefined. However, Fleming's girlfriend told him Connery had the requisite sexual charisma. Fleming changed his mind after the successful Dr. No premiere; he was so impressed, he created a half-Scottish, half-Swiss heritage for the literary James Bond in the later novels.
Connery's portrayal of Bond owes much to stylistic tutelage from director Terence Young, polishing the actor while using his physical grace and presence for the action. Robert Cotton wrote in one Connery biography that Lois Maxwell (the first Miss Moneypenny) noticed, "Terence took Sean under his wing. He took him to dinner, showed him how to walk, how to talk, even how to eat." Cotton wrote, "Some cast members remarked that Connery was simply doing a Terence Young impression, but Young and Connery knew they were on the right track.
In June 1967, after filming You Only Live Twice, Connery quit the role, having become tired of repetitive plots, a lack of character development, the public's demands of him, and fear of being typecast. He also disliked the fantastic direction in which the series was headed, away from the source material. Connery reportedly wanted to be a co-producer of the series, his inspiration being Dean Martin's role as a co-producer of the Matt Helm series. Connery noted that The Silencers made nowhere near as much money as Thunderball, but Martin made more money than he did.
Connery's final official appearance as 007 was in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever. He was paid a then-unheard of $1 million. As part of his fee United Artists also agreed to finance Connery's production of The Offence (1972). he reportedly declined £5 million to make the next 007 movie, Live and Let Die (1973).
In 1978, owing to complex dealings between EON Productions and Kevin McClory (co-producer of Thunderball and co-creator of the story in Ian Fleming's eponymous novel), the latter obtained the right to re-make Thunderball. McClory and Connery were to write an original Bond film, titled either James Bond of the Secret Service or Warhead, but EON and United Artists blocked it in court.
The re-make was revived in the 1980s, and Connery was to play Bond for the seventh, and final, time in the "unofficial" film Never Say Never Again; its title is said to derive from Connery's comment after filming Diamonds Are Forever that he'd "never again" play Bond. Yet, in 2005, Connery again reprised the role with his voice and physical likeness in the video game adaptation of From Russia with Love.
His favorite Bond film is From Russia with Love, one of the most acclaimed in the series, which he confirmed in a 2002 interview with Sam Donaldson for ABCNews.com.; (American Movie Classics mistakenly listed Thunderball as Connery's favourite during a Bond retrospective).
Connery's feelings about James Bond range from resentment to fondness, once saying he hated the character so much that he'd have killed him, but also saying he never hated Bond, but merely wanted to portray other characters. At another point, he said he still cared about the future of the character and the franchise, having been its icon for too long not to care, and that all Bond films had their good points.
In 1981, Sean Connery appeared in the film Time Bandits as Agamemnon. The casting choice derives from a joke Michael Palin included in the script, in which he describes the character as being "Sean Connery (or someone of equal, but cheaper, stature)". However, when shown the script, Connery was happy to play the supporting role. The brevity of his appearance in this film has been hailed by some as refreshing.
After his experience with Never Say Never Again in 1983 and the following court case, Connery became unhappy with the major studios and for two years did not make any films. Following the successful European production The Name of the Rose (1986), for which he won a BAFTA award, Connery's interest in more credible material was revived. That same year, a supporting role in Highlander showcased his ability to play older mentors to younger leads, which would become a recurring role in many of his later films. The following year, his acclaimed performance as a hard-nosed cop in The Untouchables (1987) earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The media reported that the producers wanted him for the movie but could not afford his salary, so he agreed to do the movie for $50,000 with a ten percent share of the proceeds. The expectation was that the movie would not make much money, but it exceeded all expectations and Sean Connery reaped a large amount of money.
Subsequent box-office hits such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), in which he played Dr. Henry Jones Sr., the father of Harrison Ford's titular character, actually only 12 years his junior), The Hunt for Red October (1990) (where he was reportedly called in at two weeks notice), The Russia House (1990), The Rock (1996), and Entrapment (1999) re-established him as an actor capable of playing major parts. Both Last Crusade and The Rock alluded to his James Bond days. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas wanted "the father of Indiana Jones" to be Connery since Bond directly inspired the Indiana Jones series, while his character in The Rock, John Patrick Mason, was a British secret service agent imprisoned since the 1960s.
In more recent years, Connery's filmography has included several box office and critical disappointments such as The Avengers (1998), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) and First Knight (1995), but he also received positive reviews for films including Finding Forrester (2000). He also later received a Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema. He has often been criticised for never losing his accent, even when playing Russian and Irish characters, but he has said this is out of respect for his country.
In 1987–88, Connery was to star in the British television series Red Dwarf. Connery was to appear as the captain of the spaceship Red Dwarf. However, the role was written as being slightly overweight and inept, and so, with the part not being a good fit for Connery, it eventually went to an American comedy actor, Mac McDonald. This was revealed in the Red Dwarf Series I DVD commentary.
He stated in interviews for the film included on the DVD release that he was offered roles in both The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings series, declining both due to "not understanding them." After they went on to become huge hits, he decided to accept the League role, despite not "understanding" it either. At the Tartan Day celebrations in New York in March 2006, Connery again confirmed his retirement from acting, and stated that he is now writing a history book.
He was planning to star in an $80 million movie about Saladin and the Crusades that would be filmed in Jordan before the producer Moustapha Akkad was killed in the 2005 Amman bombings. Connery received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 June 2006, where he again confirmed his retirement from acting. On 7 June 2007, he denied rumours that he would appear in the fourth Indiana Jones film, stating that "retirement is just too much damned fun".
Sean Connery however did return to voice acting, playing the title character in the animated short, "Sir Billi the Vet".
Connery was married to the Australian-born actress Diane Cilento from 1962 to 1973 (he was her second husband). They have one son, Jason Connery (born January 11, 1963) who was educated at Millfield School in Somerset, England and the rigorous Gordonstoun boarding school in Scotland, before going on to become an actor. According to Jason, his parents' divorce was an extremely bitter and painful affair. He has a grandson from Jason's marriage to actress Mia Sara.
In her autobiography My Nine Lives, as well as in subsequent interviews on radio and in print, Diane Cilento claimed that Connery had beaten her on several occasions. Connery vehemently denied the accusations. In a December 1987 interview with Barbara Walters, he caused an uproar by stating that it was okay for a man to slap a woman with limited force if it was required to calm her down or "keep her in line". In the interview, Walters referred to his remarks in a November 1965 interview in Playboy magazine on the set of Thunderball. In Vanity Fair in 1993, he said: "There are women who take it to the wire. That's what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation. They want a smack."
Connery has long supported the Scottish National Party, a left-of-centre political party campaigning for Scottish independence, both financially and through personal appearances. His involvement in Scottish politics has attracted considerable criticism since he has not resided in Scotland for more than fifty years, being labelled a "tax exile" amongst other things. Fellow Scot and actor Ewan McGregor was quoted as saying of Connery that he "resented being told how to feel about Scotland by someone who hadn't lived there in 25 years".
His support for the SNP is illustrated by a comment from his official website:
While it is generally accepted that his support of Scotland's independence and the Scottish National Party delayed his knighthood for many years, his commitment to Scotland has never wavered. Politics in the United Kingdom often has more intrigue than a James Bond plot. While Scotland is not yet independent, she does have a new parliament. Sir Sean campaigned hard for the yes vote during the Scottish Referendum that created the new Scottish Parliament. He believes firmly that the Scottish Parliament will grow in power and that Scotland will be independent within his lifetime.
Connery has "Scotland Forever" tattooed on his arm, and used his fee from Diamonds Are Forever (1971) to establish a charity to support poor children in Edinburgh, as well as Scottish film production. He has said that he will return to Scotland when it is granted independence. He suggested in 1997 that the Labour government had prevented him being knighted for his charitable work because of his support for the SNP. At the time a Labour Party spokesman stated Connery's knighthood had been blocked because of the numerous remarks that the actor had made in past interviews condoning violence and physical abuse towards women. Connery was widely accused of hypocrisy for accepting a knighthood from the monarch of the United Kingdom when he openly opposes that system.
Connery received the Légion d'honneur in 1991. He received Kennedy Center Honors from the United States in 1999, presented to him by President Bill Clinton. He received a knighthood as a Knight Bachelor on July 5, 2000, wearing a hunting tartan kilt of the MacLean of Duart clan. He also received the Orden de Manuel Amador Guerrero from Mireya Moscoso, former president of Panama on 11 March 2003, for his talent and versatility as an actor.
He was voted to have the worst movie accent by Empire, for his performance in The Untouchables. He has been derided, but also applauded, for using his natural speaking voice and accent for every character, despite playing roles as diverse as an Irish American Chicago cop (The Untouchables), a Berber chieftan (The Wind and the Lion), a Spaniard (Highlander), King Richard I of England (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) and a Lithuanian Soviet submarine captain (The Hunt for Red October).
Connery is frequently referred to in Irvine Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting, as one of the central characters, Sick Boy, is a great fan of Connery's work. He is also mentioned several times in the 1996 film of the same name, directed by Danny Boyle.
British comedian Eddie Izzard frequently uses the voice of Sean Connery in his stand-up routines, portraying such diverse figures as Noah and King Henry VIII. When playing the former, Connery is usually seen interacting with Izzard's famous James Mason "voice of God."
In the comic book series Danger Girl, the character Deuce is modeled after the elder Connery.
|1954||Lilacs in the Spring||Undetermined Role (uncredited)|
|1957||No Road Back||Spike|
|Hell Drivers||Johnny Kates|
|Action of the Tiger||Mike|
|Time Lock||Welder #2|
|1958||Another Time, Another Place||Mark Trevor|
|A Night to Remember||Titanic deck hand||uncredited|
|1959||Darby O'Gill and the Little People||Michael McBride|
|Tarzan's Greatest Adventure||O'Bannion|
|1961||On the Fiddle||Pedlar Pascoe|
|The Frightened City||Paddy Damion|
|1962||The Longest Day||Pte. Flanagan|
|Dr. No||James Bond|
|1963||From Russia with Love|
|Woman of Straw||Anthony Richmond|
|1965||The Hill||Trooper Joe Roberts|
|1966||A New World||Himself||(cameo)|
|A Fine Madness||Samson Shillitoe|
|1967||You Only Live Twice||James Bond|
|1968||Shalako||Moses Zebulon 'Shalako' Carlin|
|1969||The Bowler and the Bonnet||Himself||(Director; documentary)|
|1970||The Molly Maguires||Jack Kehoe|
|1971||The Red Tent||Roald Amundsen|
|The Anderson Tapes||John Anderson|
|Diamonds Are Forever||James Bond|
|1972||''A Spain Golf Course||Himself||(short subject)|
|1973||The Offence||Detective Sergeant Johnson|
|Murder on the Orient Express||Colonel Arbuthnot|
|The Dream Factory||Himself||(documentary)|
|The Wind and the Lion||Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli the Magnificent|
|The Man Who Would Be King||Daniel Dravot|
|1976||Robin and Marian||Robin Hood|
|1976||The Next Man||Khalil Abdul-Muhsen|
|1977||A Bridge Too Far||Maj. Gen. Roy Urquhart|
|1979||The First Great Train Robbery||Edward Pierce/John Simms/Geoffrey|
|Meteor||Dr. Paul Bradley|
|Cuba||Maj. Robert Dapes|
|1981||Outland||Marshal William T. O'Niel|
|Time Bandits||King Agamemnon/Fireman|
|Five Days One Summer||Douglas Meredith|
|Wrong Is Right||Patrick Hale|
|1983||Sean Connery's Edinburgh||Himself||(short subject)|
|Never Say Never Again||James Bond|
|1984||Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight||The Green Knight|
|1986||Highlander||Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez|
|The Name of the Rose||William of Baskerville||BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role|
|1987||The Untouchables||Jim Malone|| Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
|1988||The Presidio||Lt. Col. Alan Caldwell|
|1989||Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade||Professor Henry Jones Senior|
|Family Business||Jessie McMullen|
|1990||The Hunt for Red October||Captain Marko Ramius|
|The Russia House||Bartholomew 'Barley' Scott Blair|
|1991||Highlander II: The Quickening||Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez|
|Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves||King Richard I||(uncredited cameo)|
|1992||Medicine Man||Dr. Robert Campbell|
|1993||Rising Sun||Capt. John Connor||(also executive producer)|
|1994||A Good Man in Africa||Dr. Alex Murray|
|1995||The Thief and the Cobbler||Tack the Cobbler||(voice; original version; unconfirmed)|
|Just Cause||Paul Armstrong||(also executive producer)|
|First Knight||King Arthur|
|The Rock||Capt. John Patrick Mason||(also executive producer)|
|1998||The Avengers||Sir August de Wynter|
|Playing by Heart||Paul|
|1999||Entrapment||Robert MacDougal||(also producer)|
|2000||Finding Forrester||William Forrester|
|2003||The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen||Allan Quatermain||(also co-producer)|
|2006||Sir Billi the Vet||Sir Billi||(voice) animated 2008 release|