Sir Sean Connery 1930 – 2020
sean connery bond
All of the James Bond actors had to stand in the shadow cast by the incomparable Sean Connery. Connery had screen presence, charisma, perfect timing, machismo, acting chops, and wit. He was the complete package. None of the other Bond actors (whatever their individual strengths) were quite able to tick every box in the way that Sean Connery did (and with considerable ease too). Connery's Bond could be cruel and ruthless but he was also charming and funny. No other Bond was able to project an irresistible blend of power and panache in the fashion that Connery could. Connery's Bond was dangerous but he was also fun. That was the perfect template for the cinematic version of Ian Fleming's character.
Casting Sean Connery as Bond (Cubby Broccoli's wife Dana is usually credited as the person who championed Connery) was clearly one of the most inspired casting decisions in the history of film. You can't imagine anyone else playing Bond in the 1960s films now when you watch them. It seems impossible that any other actor would have been such a sensation in the part. Sure, someone like Richard Johnson or Rod Taylor probably could have made a decent fist of it and looked good in a tuxedo but would they have been iconic in the way that Connery was as James Bond? Sean Connery as Bond just seemed to have a special X-Factor. It was as if the collision of this actor and this character was always destined to happen.
Sean Connery has to take a generous portion of the credit for the Bond films becoming such a phenomenon that they still exist today. The 60s Bonds were the foundation upon which an apparently indestructible film franchise was built. It was inevitable that Connery would tire of the Bond films in the end. These days we are used to waiting four or five years for a new Bond film but, in the 1960s, Connery made five Bond films in five years - which is a remarkable workload when you think about it. Connery was fairly young when he started playing Bond and didn't have a huge body of work behind him. He had to battle somewhat against his Bond image to establish himself as an actor. Some of the roles he took on to this end, like The Hill and The Offence, were bold and impressive. People would sometimes joke that he just played Sean Connery in every film he made but Connery was not afraid of character parts or silly costumes. He was willing to do strange and risky roles when the mood took him.
Sean Connery, despite being a huge star, was also willing to do ensemble films. He wasn't a huge egomaniac when it came to his film career. Connery is the only Bond actor who you would say was a major film star even beyond his days as 007. There can't be anyone who hasn't watched a Sean Connery film - even if it wasn't James Bond. Time Bandits, The Untouchables, Zardoz, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Name of the Rose, The Man Who Would Be King, Outland, The Rock, Highlander, The Hunt For Red October, A Bridge Too Far, Murder on the Orient Express, Family Business, The Anderson Tapes, Marnie, The Wind and the Lion, Robin and Marian. Sean Connery became a genuine film star in 1962 and remained one for the rest of his life.
The last film Sean Connery made before his retirement was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003. This was a famously troubled production plagued by delays and money trouble. Things were so bad that Sean Connery and the director Stephen Norrington nearly came to blows. It was such an awful experience that Norrington never directed another film and Connery retired. The movie was a travesty of the classic comic by Alan Moore. And yet, in his last ever film, Sean Connery still exudes charisma in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Even in the last twilight of his long acting career he is still a commanding and powerful presence at the heart of this big crazy film. And that is how Sean Connery will always be remembered. The ultimate leading man and the ultimate James Bond.
- Jake

c 2020 Alternative 007

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