Actors of Legend: Sean Connery
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Actors of Legend: Sean Connery

Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930) is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards (one of them being a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award) and three Golden Globes. Sean Connery is best-known for portraying the character James Bond, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983 (six "official" EON productions films and the non-official Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again). In 1988, Connery won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables. His film career also includes such films as Marnie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, Highlander, Murder on the Orient Express, Dragonheart, and The Rock. He was knighted in July 2000. Sean Connery has been polled as "The Greatest Living Scot". In 1989, he was proclaimed "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine, and in 1999, at age 69, he was voted "Sexiest Man of the Century".

Hollywood is not what it used to be. Hollywood has become overcrowded with so many entertainers that somehow got lucky and made it big due to popularity but not necessarily capability. Looking back on when Hollywood was full of legends who took pride in their work rather than just making a movie for a pay check I would like to nominate my own “Actor’s of Legend.”

Looking to pick up some extra money, Connery helped out backstage at the King's Theatre in late 1951. He became interested in the proceedings, and a career was launched. Connery also took up bodybuilding as a hobby. While his official website claims he was third in the 1950 Mr. Universe contest, most sources place him in the 1953 competition, either third in the Junior class or failing to place in the Tall Man classification. One of the other competitors mentioned that auditions were being held for a production of South Pacific; Connery landed a small part.

Connery was a keen footballer, having played for Bonnyrigg Rose in his younger days. He was offered a trial with East Fife. While on tour with South Pacific, Connery played in a football match against a local team that Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United, happened to be scouting. According to reports, Busby offered Connery a contract worth £25 a week immediately after the game. Connery admits that he was tempted to accept, but he recalls, "I realized 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.”

One of Sean Connery's major early film parts was in Another Time, Another Place (1958). During filming, star Lana Turner's possessive gangster boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, who was visiting from Los Angeles, believed she was having an affair with Connery. He stormed onto the set and pointed a gun at Connery, only to have Connery disarm him and knock him flat on his back, causing Stompanato to be banned from the set. Connery later recounted that he had to lie low for a while after receiving threats from men linked to Stompanato's boss, Mickey Cohen.

Sean Connery landed a leading role in the film Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959). He also had a prominent television role in Rudolph Cartier's 1961 production of Anna Karenina for BBC Television, in which he co-starred with Claire Bloom. Sean Connery's breakthrough came in the role of secret agent James Bond. He played the character in the first five Bond films: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967); then appeared again as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983). All seven films were commercially successful.

James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, originally doubted Connery's 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 Scott) 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.

Sean 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 2005, From Russia with Love was adapted by Electronic Arts into a video game, titled James Bond 007: From Russia with Love, which featured all-new voice work by Connery as well as his likeness, and those of several of the film's supporting cast.  While making the Bond films, Connery also starred in other acclaimed films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie (1964) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Apart from The Man Who Would Be King and The Wind and the Lion, both released in 1975, most of Connery's successes in the next decade were as part of ensemble casts in films such as Murder on the Orient Express (1974) with Vanessa Redgrave and John Gielgud and A Bridge Too Far (1977) co-starring Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Olivier.

In 1981, 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 removing his mask as being "Sean Connery — or someone of equal but cheaper stature". When shown the script, Connery was happy to play the supporting role.

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, Sean Connery's interest in more commercial 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 Irish-born cop in The Untouchables (1987) earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, his sole nomination throughout his career. His subsequent box-office hits included Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade(1989), in which he played Henry Jones Sr., the title character's father, 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). In 1996, he voiced the role of Draco the dragon in the animated film Dragonheart. Both Last Crusade and The Rock alluded to his James Bond days. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas wanted "the father of Indiana Jones" (although Connery is only 12 years older than Ford) 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 1998, Sean Connery received a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

In recent years, Sean Connery's films have included several box office and critical disappointments such as First Knight (1995), The Avengers (1998), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), but he also received positive reviews, including his performance in Finding Forrester (2000). He also later received a Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema. Connery stated in interviews for the film (included on the DVD release) that he was offered a role in The Lord of the Rings series,[clarification needed] declining it due to "not understanding the script." CNN reported that the actor was offered up to 15% of the worldwide box office receipts to play Gandalf, which had he accepted, could have earned him as much as $400 million for the trilogy. After the series went on to become a huge hit, Connery decided to accept the lead role in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, despite not "understanding" it either. In July 2005, it was reported that he had decided to retire from film-making, following disillusionment with the "idiots’ now making films in Hollywood" and the turmoil making the 2003 film.

In September 2004, media reports indicated that Connery intended to retire after pulling out of Josiah's Canon, which was set for a 2005 release. However, in a December 2004 interview with The Scotsman newspaper from his home in the Bahamas, Connery explained he had taken a break from acting in order to concentrate on writing his autobiography. 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. On 25 August 2008, his 78th birthday, Connery unveiled his autobiography, Being a Scott, co-written with Murray Grigor.

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. When Connery received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 June 2006, he again confirmed his retirement from acting. On 7 June 2007, he denied rumors that he would appear in the fourth Indiana Jones film, stating that "retirement is just too much damned fun".

Connery returned to voice acting, playing the title character in the animated short, Sir Billi the Vet, and in 2005 he recorded voiceovers for a new video game version of his Bond film, From Russia with Love. In an interview on the game disc, Connery stated that he was very happy that the producers of the game (EA Games) had approached him to voice Bond and that he hoped to do another one in the near future.[citation needed] In 2010, he reprised his role as the title character in the animated film Sir Billi, serving also as executive producer. In April 2011, his spokesman confirmed that Connery has retired from making public appearances.

Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930) is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards (one of them being a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award) and three Golden Globes. Sean Connery is best-known for portraying the character James Bond, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983 (six "official" EON productions films and the non-official Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again). In 1988, Connery won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables. His film career also includes such films as Marnie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, Highlander, Murder on the Orient Express, Dragonheart, and The Rock. He was knighted in July 2000. Sean Connery has been polled as "The Greatest Living Scot". In 1989, he was proclaimed "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine, and in 1999, at age 69, he was voted "Sexiest Man of the Century".

Thomas Sean Connery was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, to Euphemia "Effie" (née Maclean), a cleaning woman, and Joseph Connery, a factory worker and lorry driver. Both his mother's parents were native Scottish Gaelic speakers from Fife and Uig on the Isle of Skye. His father was a Roman Catholic Scot, while his mother was a Protestant. He has a younger brother, Neil (b. 1938). Connery claims he was called Sean, his middle name, long before becoming an actor, explaining that when he was young he had an Irish friend named Séamus and that those who knew them both had decided to call Connery by his middle name whenever both were present.

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Article by Kevin C Davison

“I write to entertain, and for a cause.”

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Comments (2)

Great article on a classic legend, Sean Connery. Definitely getting my vote, great information on him, some of which I did not know.

Great article and good idea for this series that you are creating. Voted and enjoyed reading.

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