The sad news came through this afternoon that Sean Connery had died in his sleep last night at his home in the Bahamas. He was 90 years old and had been in ill health for some time. To say I am heartbroken is an understatement. I have grown up with his films and magnificent performances and have been a fan for many years now. He was someone who was always there and could always be relied upon to turn in a good and entertaining performance, even in films which weren’t really that good.
Sean Connery. Image source IMDb.
My first introduction to Sean came when I watched The Hunt For Red October, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and the Alfred Hitchcock film, Marnie. In all three of these films I was struck most by how he commanded the screen in every scene, even when he wasn’t saying anything or really doing much. I was impressed and wanted to see more. I was next introduced to the Bond series and thereafter was a fan for life.
I love how he never masked his Scottish accent and that it became such a beloved part of his screen presence, and that no matter who he played – Irish policeman, Russian submarine Captain – that accent somehow still sounded right.
I am a huge fan of the James Bond books and film series. His performance as James Bond is brilliant. He gives the character a ruthlessness and edge, something which leaves the viewer in no doubt that he can take care of himself and isn’t someone to be messed with. His charisma and sex appeal helped not only to endear him, but also the character of Bond, to both men and women.
Sean Connery as James Bond. Image sources IMDb.
While there were many other actors considered for the role of Bond – Stanley Baker, Cary Grant, James Mason etc- it’s hard now to imagine anyone other than Sean as the first official screen Bond. Sean was a huge part of the reason why the early Bond films became so successful and such a big deal. So much was riding on Sean’s casting in the role, but from that famous first Bond intro scene in Dr. No, any worries anyone may have had regarding his capability and suitability for the role quickly subsided. A new screen hero and icon had arrived on the scene.
Sean’s story is a classic rags to riches one. He was born Thomas Sean Connery, on the 25th of August, 1930, in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. His mum, Euphemia, worked as a cleaner, while his dad, Joseph, was a lorry driver and factory worker. Sean had a younger brother, Neil, who was born in 1938 and later followed his older brother into the acting profession.
Sylvia Trench(Eunice Gayson)is introduced to “Bond. James Bond.” Image source IMDb.
The young Sean’s first job was as a milkman. He then joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16. He was discharged at the age of 19 on medical grounds. After returning home he took on several jobs including a laborer, lorry driver and lifeguard. He also got into bodybuilding, and during a bodybuilding competition in 1953, a fellow competitor mentioned auditions were being held in London for the stage production of South Pacific. Sean went and auditioned and was offered a small role as one of the chorus boys. He later moved up to play the role of Cpl Steeves.
During a 1954 party for the show, Sean met Michael Caine for the first time. The pair would become lifelong friends and would later work together in the film The Man Who Would Be King. Sean would also become close friends with Roger Moore, who later succeeded Sean in his most famous screen role.
As the 1950’s rolled on, Sean’s fame grew as he started to get more significant roles in TV and films such as Hell Drivers, Requiem For A Heavyweight, Darby O’Gill And The Little People, and Another Time, Another Place,in which he co-starred alongside one of the biggest stars in the world, Lana Turner.
In 1962, Sean was offered the role of British secret agent, Commander James Bond, in Dr. No. The film was to be the first serious screen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s hit book series. At first Sean was reluctant to sign a deal to play the character in multiple films, but soon changed his mind. Between 1962 and 1983 he played Bond in seven films – six official films for Eon productions, and the seventh and unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again.
Outside of Bond he impressed in such varied films as The Hill, The Offence(featuring one of his best performances as a detective reaching his breaking point), Marnie, The Untouchables(for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar),The Name Of The Rose, Robin And Marion(in which he and Audrey Hepburn deliver poignant performances as the older Robin Hood and Maid Marion),The Hunt For Red October, Highlander, The Rock and bizarre cult classic Zardoz.
Sean in Marnie, Robin And Marion and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Image source IMDb.
One of my favourites from his later screen work is Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, in which he plays Professor Henry Jones, the bookworm dad of Indiana Jones. He was perfect casting playing against type as a mild mannered,studious,eccentric and very gentle man. Henry abhors fighting and has a difficult relationship with his more adventurous son. He and Harrison Ford have a lovely chemistry together and Sean gets to prove he had a gift for comedy as well as drama too.
My heart goes out to Sean’s family and friends. R.I.P, Sean. Thank you for so many great performances and unforgettable characters. While I am heartbroken at the loss of this legend, I take great comfort in the cinematic legacy he has left behind him for us to enjoy. This year has been a tough one already for Bond fans with the deaths announced of Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan, but the loss of Sean makes it even more difficult for fans to bear.