Icons like Connery don?t retire

He may announce his retirement in June, reports Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2006 19:17 IST

At 76, a gentleman, especially one that belongs to an extraordinary league, ought to have the right to put his feet up and lead a nice, relaxed life of retirement. For the charismatic Sean Connery, as big a Hollywood star as any, superannuation can only be a word to be uttered, not implemented.

The Edinburgh-born Scottish superstar hasn’t been seen in on-screen action for a while, and if he does have his way, he is unlikely to be seen ever again. Recuperating from a surgery to remove a kidney tumour, he plans to call it a day as an actor and turn his attention to a career in writing. He is, in fact, contemplating an autobiography – a tome that is bound to find takers around the globe.

Connery is expected to formally announce his retirement after he collects his Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Film Institute in June. Harrison Ford, his co-star in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is, however, believed to be campaigning to get Connery on board for the fourth Indiana Jones film.

Connery is, of course, best known around the world for his interpretation of the character of James Bond in six official films of the series. Not so well publicised is the fact that the Indiana Jones franchise was to a great extent inspired by Connery’s superlative playing of Bond.

Sean Connery is expected to formally announce his retirement after he collects his Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Film Institute in June.

When producer George Lucas needed an actor to play Indiana Jones’ father in

The Last Crusade

, he instinctively zeroed in on Connery. The latter was after all the creative progenitor of Steven Spielberg’s archaeologist-adventurer hero.

The very fact that Connery’s appeal extends well beyond the Bond roles is a measure of his abilities as an actor and his clout as a star. None of the other men who brought the legendary fictional British spy to life on celluloid quite managed to live him down. Connery did.

Therefore, if he does indeed retire, he will be sorely missed despite the critical and commercial disappointment that his last big release, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (a film that co-starred India’s very own Naseeruddin Shah).

In one of his greatest roles of the post-James Bond phase of his career, Connery demonstrated his power as a hard-nosed prohibition era Chicago cop on Al Capone’s trail in Brian De Palma’s superbly crafted Untouchables. The cast of the film included actors like Robert De Niro, Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia and each of these stars delivered a first-rate performance. But it was Connery who stood out, proving the “old is gold” adage with indisputable authority.

No wonder The Connery brand equity is as enormous as it is. It is destined to outlive his career and him. John Huston, who directed him in The Man Who Would Be King, described him as “a huge personality”.

British auteur John Boorman, who collaborated with Connery on the much maligned but amazingly inventive Zardoz, once wrote: “I believe that Connery touches us because he personifies the best qualities that came out of the post-war upheavals in Britain… Connery is an archetype of what was best in those times. And that is his power. But like all archetypes, he also represents something timeless…”

So will this timeless icon drop out of active filmmaking? Connery has served as executive producer for most of his recent films, Finding Forrester, Entrapment, The Rock, Just Cause, Rising Sun, Medicine Man and, of course, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Now there are reliable reports that he is keen to bring The Gulf Conspiracy, a medical thriller written by a fellow Scotsman, to the screen.

Connery the actor may quit the scene, but Connery the writer and producer is likely to be in business for a while yet.

First Published: Apr 14, 2006 21:00 IST