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Sean Connery, the extraordinary gentleman

Yes, we all know him best as THE British spy James Bond but Sir Sean Connery has a lot more to his credit. On his 82nd birthday, here's a look at the legendary actor's journey over the years.

hollywood Updated: Aug 27, 2012 11:26 IST

Ask true-blue James Bond fans as to who’s their favourite to play the British spy and the answer’s almost always the same. He may be THE James Bond for most but there’s a lot more to Sir Sean Connery than that. On his 82nd birthday, here's a look at the legendary actor's journey over the years.

Not many know that the Scottish stalwart’s actual name is Thomas Sean Connery. However, although he was generally called Tommy and later even Big Tam due to his height, Connery actor was apparently known by his middle name Sean even as a kid.

Connery came from a rather humble background; he was the son of a cleaning woman and factory worker. This bigwig of Hollywood not only joined the Royal Navy for a while but has worked as a lorry driver, a lifeguard at Portobello swimming baths, a labourer, an artist's model and even a coffin polisher.

Sean Connery

Early Career

His ability and interest in football earned him the offer of playing for Manchester United with a contract for £25 per week but even back then the 23-year-old Sean realised the limited shelf life of a footballer as compared to an actor and a resolved was made.

Connery tried to make some additional money by working backstage at the King’s theatre. The actor, who had a bodybuilder physique with a had a height of about 6ft 2 inches, landed several bit roles as a gangster in films like No Road Back, Hell Drivers, Action of the Tiger and Time Lock among others.

Connery landed one of his first major roles as a reporter opposite Lana Turner in the 1958 melodrama Another Time, Another Place.

Bond at its best

Sean Connery actively played Bond from 1962 to 1983; a role that not only changed his life but also won him the passage into the hearts of his most diehard fans.

Interestingly, while most of us believe that James Bond was arguably best portrayed by Sean Connery, the actual creator of the character author Ian Fleming had his doubts about it, and even called the actor ‘unrefined’!

Connery, too, was in two minds about committing to a film series. He agreed to become the first James Bond because he realised that if the films were a hit, it would be rather beneficial for him (and Thank God for that!). It is also believed that both author Ian Fleming and producer Cubby Broccoli’s girlfriends lobbied for the man with the ‘requisite sexual charisma’!

Connery was then groomed by director Terence Young and learnt to carry himself and become the Bond we all now know him to be. However, it was only after the successful premiere of his first film Dr No that author Fleming was convinced about Connery being the right man to play Bond. So much so, in fact, that he actually he created a half-Scottish, half-Swiss heritage for the literary James Bond in the later novels. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sean Connery made the first and lasting impression as British secret agent Bond in the following five films:

Dr. No (1962)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
Thunderball (1965)
You Only Live Twice(1967)

In 1971, Connery reprised his role of Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, after George Lazenby played the character in his only Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

Interestingly, the last Bond film Connery did was Never Say Never Again (1983), which was based on his 1965 hit Thunderball. The film's title references how Connery said to the press in 1971 that he would "never again" play James Bond. The film featured a 52-year-old Connery as the ageing Bond, who is brought back into action to investigate a theft. This film was released by none other than the Warner Bros.

Not many know that despite its popularity, Connery did not like the role of James Bond, saying that he was "fed up to here with the whole Bond bit". He was eager to move on.

Other films

Post Bond, Connery’s journey was only uphill. Although perhaps lesser known, some of the veteran actor’s later performances were far deeper and truly reflected his skills.

His prominent performances include Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and The Wind And The Lion (1975) and A Bridge Too Far (1977)

Connery won the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for The Name of The Rose (1986). He then went on to win the Academy award for Best Supporting Actor in for playing the hard-nosed Irish-American cop in The Untouchables. He was also nominated for the Golden Globe as well as the BAFTA award for his supporting performance alongside Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Sean Connery

His later prominent roles included films like The Hunt for Red October (1990), First Knight (1995), The Rock (1996), The Avengers (1998), Entrapment (1999), Finding Forrester (2000) and of course the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

Awards and Honours

Sean Connery has been awarded a BAFTA, Academy and Golden Globe awards. The actor was also knighted in July 2000 and had been nominated for a knighthood in 1997 and 1998, but these nominations were reportedly vetoed by Donald Dewar due to Connery's political views.


Connery lost his virginity to an older woman at the age of 14
* The actor has two tattoos on his body, one a tribute to his parents and the other showing his love for Scotland
* Connery has been known to single-handedly take on and overcome one of the most ruthless gangs (Valdor) of Edinburgh and eventually gained the reputation of a ‘hard man’.
* Connery had been offered the role of Gandalf (which was eventually played by Ian McKellen) in The Lord of the Rings series, and he declined due to "not understanding the script."
* In the film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the character Sentinel Prime's features were mostly based on Connery

(With inputs from Wikipedia and IMDB)

First Published: Aug 25, 2012 11:35 IST