Sean Connery is known for his trademark Scottish accent and his good looks,
repeatedly mentioned as one of the most attractive men alive by magazines even
though he is considerably older than more conventional s-- symbols.
Sean Connery was born in Fountainbridge in Edinburgh, Scotland, to a Christian mixed-denomination couple. His father, Joseph Connery, was a Catholic of Irish descent with roots in County Wexford, Ireland and his mother, Euphamia "Effie" Maclean, was Protestant. Neither Tommy (Sean) nor his brother, Neil, were raised Catholic. He claims he was called by his middle name Sean long before he became an actor, explaining he had an Irish friend named Seamus and those who knew them decided to call him by his middle name whenever he was with Seamus, and it stuck.
Sean Connery joined the Royal Navy after leaving school, and after being discharged on medical grounds went on to a succession of jobs, including truck driver, labourer and lifeguard. He competed (under the name Thom Connery) in the 1953 Mr. Universe contest won by Bill Pearl, coming third in the tall man's division. Another competitor, Johnny Isaacs, suggested that he try out for a stage production of South Pacific, which led to work on the stage, TV, and eventually film. As a weight lifter, his nickname was "Big Tam".
He was married to the Australian-born actress Diane Cilento from 1962 until 1973 (he was her second husband). With Cilento he had a son, Jason Connery, who also became an actor, and was educated at Millfield School in Somerset, England. According to son Jason, the divorce was a very bitter and painful one for both sides. Since 1975, Sean Connery has been married to French-Tunisian artist Michelle Roquebrune Connery.
Sean Connery is best known to audiences around the world for his role as James Bond. Connery appeared as James Bond in seven films, beginning in 1962 and ending in 1983. These are:
Sean Connery was discovered by Harry Saltzman after numerous names as
possible contenders for Bond were ruled out or unavailable, including most
notably David Niven, who later played Bond in the 1967 spoof Casino Royale, and
Cary Grant, who was ruled out after committing to only one film; some sources
also suggest that Grant (58) turned the role down, feeling he was too old at
that point. Due to the relatively small budget, the producers were forced to go
with an unknown; Connery was in part cast for that reason.
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, reportedly had doubts about the casting of Connery, on the grounds that the stocky, 6'2" Scotsman was too "unrefined", but a female companion of Fleming's told him that Connery had 'it', and reportedly that was good enough for Ian. The author even went on to introduce a half-Scottish (and half-Swiss) heritage for his literary character in the later books, presumably in homage to Connery. Connery's on-screen portrayal of Bond is due in part to tutelage from director Terence Young who helped to smooth over Connery's rough edges while utilizing his imposing physicality and graceful, cat-like movements during action sequences.
Connery's own favorite Bond film was From Russia with Love, one of the most critically acclaimed films in the series. He confirmed it in a 2002 interview with Sam Donaldson for ABCNews.com. (American Movie Classics erroneously listed Thunderball as Connery's favorite during its recent Bond retrospectives.)
In 1967, following the unsatisfying experience with You Only Live Twice, Connery quit the role of Bond, having grown tired of the repetitive plots, lack of character development and the general public's growing demands on him and his privacy (as well as fear of typecasting), which led to the producers hiring George Lazenby to take over the role in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. After the film's release, however, Lazenby backed out of a seven-film contract. Broccoli again asked Connery to return to the role and paid him £1.2 million to do so, at the time the highest salary of any actor. Connery returned one final official time in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever, quitting the role shortly after release.
As a result of a deal between EON Productions and Kevin McClory (co-writer of Thunderball), McClory was given the right to create a remake of Thunderball after ten years had passed since the release of the original film. In the late 1970s McClory teamed with Connery to write an original James Bond film, but the idea was blocked by lawsuits brought by EON and United Artists. However, the project was revived in the 1980s and Connery signed to play Bond for the seventh and final time (on screen) in the unofficial film Never Say Never Again. The title of the film has long believed to have derived from Connery's comments after the release of Diamonds Are Forever who, after filming it, claimed he would never play James Bond again.
Sean Connery returned to the role once more in 2005, providing the voice and likeness of James Bond for the video game adaptation of From Russia with Love.
Over 40 years since he first played the role, Connery is still widely regarded as the definitive cinematic incarnation of James Bond, despite credible interpretations of the character by the likes of Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and what many believe to be a more authentic literary performance by Timothy Dalton. Connery's own feelings on Bond in interviews has run the gamut from bitter resentment to great fondness. At one point he joked he hated Bond so much that he'd have killed him, but he has also stated that he never hated Bond, he merely wanted to pursue other roles. Certainly, when the James Bond series was at its peak in the mid-1960s, his association with the 007 image was so intense that fine performances in his non-Bond films, such as Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie and Sidney Lumet's The Hill, were being virtually ignored. When asked if he'd ever escape the identification, he replied "It's with me till I go in the box." At another point, he stated that he still cared about the future of the character and franchise, having been associated with the icon for too long not to care, and that all Bond films had their good points. He also voiced his support for Daniel Craig, the latest actor chosen to play Bond, for Casino Royale in 2006.
Although his most famous role was that of James Bond, Sean Connery has also maintained a successful career since, much more so than the other actors who assumed the role. As part of the agreement to appear in Diamonds are Forever, Connery was given carte blanche to produce two films at United Artists but felt that the only film made under this deal, The Offence, was buried by the studio. Apart from The Man Who Would Be King, most of Sean Connery's successes in the next decade were as part of ensemble casts, in films such as Murder on the Orient Express and A Bridge Too Far. After his experience with Never Say Never Again and the following court case, Connery became unhappy with the major studios and for two years did not make any films. Following the critically celebrated European production The Name of the Rose, 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, wise mentors to young, leading protagonists, which certainly became a recurring role in many of his later films. The following year, his performance as a hard-nosed cop in The Untouchables (1987) earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Subsequent box-office hits such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (in which he played father to Harrison Ford, actually only 12 years his junior), The Hunt for Red October (1990) and The Rock (1996) re-established him as a bankable leading man. Both Last Crusade and The Rock alluded to his James Bond days. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas wanted "the father of Indy" 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 its fair share of box office and critical disappointments such as The Avengers (1998) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), 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.
In September 2004, media reports indicated that Sean 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. However, the book project was later abandoned.
Just weeks before his 75th birthday, over the weekend of July 30th/31st 2005, it was widely reported in the broadcast media (and again in The Scotsman), that he had decided to retire from film making following disillusionment with the "idiots now in Hollywood" and the turmoil making and subsequent box office failure of the 2003 film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. 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', and after they went on to have huge box office grosses 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.
As a personality he has been accused of being an overbearing bully but has also been praised as a highly professional and polite actor, courteous and supportive of those around him. He made a big impression on actors such as Harrison Ford, Kevin Costner, and Christopher Lambert, who considered him a great friend during filming. Connery has long denied accusations of physical abuse made by his first wife, Diane Cilento.
Sean Connery was planning to star in a $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 is due to receive the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2006, where various sources have predicted he will again confirm his retirement from acting.
Connery has long supported the Scottish National Party, a political party campaigning for Scottish independence, both financially and through personal appearances. His involvement in Scottish politics, however, has often provoked severe criticism, since he has not actually lived in Scotland for more than fifty years. His support for the SNP is illustrated by a comment from his official website:
Sean Connery used half of his salary from Diamonds Are Forever (1971) to
establish a charity to support deprived children in Edinburgh as well as
Scottish Film production. These charitable works may have earned him a
Knighthood earlier, but it was suggested in 1997 that the award had been
declined by the Labour government due to his support for the SNP. At the time
the Labour Party spokesman stated Connery's knighthood had been blocked due to
controversial remarks the actor had made in past interviews regarding the
physical abuse of women. His nationalist beliefs have often been derided by
political opponents, especially given his status as a tax exile living in the
Sean 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 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.
In 1993 news that Sean Connery was undergoing radiation treatment for an undisclosed throat ailment sparked media reports that the actor was suffering from throat cancer, and he was falsely declared dead by the Japanese and South African news agencies. Connery immediately appeared on the David Letterman show to deny this. In a February 1995 interview with "Entertainment Weekly", he claimed the radiation treatment was to remove nodules from his vocal chords. In 2003 he had surgery to remove cataracts from both eyes. On March 12, 2006, he had started recovery after having surgery to remove a kidney tumor earlier that month. The tumor is thought to be benign.
This Sean Connery Biography Page is Copyright Biography World © 2004 - 2010