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Sean Connery

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Sir Sean Connery

Sean Connery, 1999
Born Thomas Sean Connery
(1930-08-25) 25 August 1930
Edinburgh, Scotland
Occupation Actor
Years active 1954-2006, 2010
Spouse(s) Diana Cilento (1962-1973)
Micheline Roquebrune (1975-present)

Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930), more commonly known as Sean Connery, 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.

He 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 Kevin McClory-helmed 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.

Connery has been polled as "The Greatest Living Scot," and was knighted in July 2000. 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".

Early life

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 of Irish descent with roots in County Wexford, 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.

His first job was as a milkman in Edinburgh with St. Cuthbert's Co-operative Society. He then joined the Royal Navy during which time he opted for two tattoos that are described on his official website as:

'unlike many tattoos, his were not frivolous - his tattoos reflect two of his lifelong commitments: his family and Scotland. After six decades, his tattoos still reflect those two ideas: One tattoo is a tribute to his parents and reads "Mum and Dad," and the other is self explanatory, "Scotland Forever."

Connery was later discharged from the navy on medical grounds because of a duodenal ulcer. Afterwards, he returned to the co-op, then worked as, among other things, a lorry driver, a labourer, an artist's model for the Edinburgh College of Art and a coffin polisher.

Acting career

Looking to pick up some extra money, he helped out backstage at the King's Theatre in late 1951. He became interested in the proceedings, and a career was launched.

He 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 realised 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 his 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.

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.

James Bond: 1962–71, 1983

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 the 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 Scot) 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.

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.

Beyond Bond

Connery in 1988

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, Sean 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, 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. In 1996, he voiced the role of Draco the dragon in the animated film Dragonheart. 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). 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, 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 at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival

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, 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 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 Scot, 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 rumours 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. In 2010, he reprised his role as the title character in the animated film Sir Billi, serving also as executive producer.

Personal life

Connery was married to actress Diane Cilento from 1962 to 1973. They had a son, actor Jason Connery. Connery has been married to Moroccan-French painter Micheline Roquebrune (born 1929) since 1975.

Connery, a keen golfer, owned the Domaine de Terre Blanche in the South of France for twenty years (from 1979) where he planned to build his dream golf course on the 300 hectares of land but the dream was not realised until he sold it to German billionaire Dietmar Hopp in 1999. Connery has also always had an interest in football. He presently supports Rangers FC having previously been a Celtic FC fan. Commenting on his change of allegiance, Connery stated "I've always supported the team I thought played the best soccer...religious affiliations in sport mean nothing to me."

Connery was knighted in July 2000.

Scottish National Party

Connery is a member of the Scottish National Party, a centre-left political party campaigning for Scottish independence, and has supported the party financially and through personal appearances. In 2008, Connery said in the Scottish Sunday Express he believed that Scotland will become an independent country within his lifetime and praised the work of the SNP in a minority government after having won the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary elections. Connery has been frequently criticised for remaining outspoken on UK politics while living as a tax exile in the Bahamas. He has donated thousands of pounds to the SNP and has sworn not to return to Scotland until it is independent. He was also accused of hypocrisy for accepting a knighthood in 1999 from the Labour government.

His support for the SNP is illustrated by a comment from his official website:

While it is generally accepted that his support of Scotland's independence and the Scottish National Party delayed his knighthood for many years, his commitment to Scotland has never wavered. Politics in the United Kingdom often has more intrigue than a James Bond plot. While Scotland is not yet independent, she does have a new parliament. Sir Sean campaigned hard for the yes vote during the Scottish Referendum that created the new Scottish Parliament. He believes firmly that the Scottish Parliament will grow in power and that Scotland will be independent within his lifetime.

Accusation of abuse

In her 2006 autobiography My Nine Lives, as well as in subsequent interviews on radio and in print, Diane Cilento claimed that Connery had beaten her on several occasions. Connery vehemently denied the accusations. In a December 1987 interview with Barbara Walters, he stated that it would be acceptable for a man to hit a woman with an open hand, if she continues to provoke the man after he concedes an argument to her. Connery had made similar remarks in a November 1965 interview with Playboy magazine on the set of Thunderball: "I don't think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman ... If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I'd do it." In 1993, Vanity Fair quoted him saying there are confrontational women who "want a smack".


In 1993, news that Connery was undergoing radiation treatment for an undisclosed throat ailment sparked media reports that the actor was suffering from throat cancer following years of heavy smoking, and he was falsely declared dead by the Japanese and South African news agencies. Connery immediately appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman to deny all of this. In a February 1995 interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said that the radiation treatment was to remove nodules from his vocal cords. (His father, a heavy smoker, died from throat cancer in 1972.) In 2003, he had surgery to remove cataracts from both eyes. On 12 March 2006, he announced he was recovering from surgery in January to remove a kidney tumour. In 2008, he chipped a bone in his shoulder after falling while playing golf. In October 2009, he told Wine Spectator magazine that he has been diagnosed with a heart condition.


Year Film Role Other notes
1954 Lilacs in the Spring Undetermined role (uncredited)
1957 No Road Back Spike
Hell Drivers Johnny Kates
Action of the Tiger Mike
Time Lock Welder #2
1958 Another Time, Another Place Mark Trevor
A Night to Remember RMS Titanic deck hand uncredited
1959 Darby O'Gill and the Little People Michael McBride
Tarzan's Greatest Adventure O'Bannion
1961 On the Fiddle Pedlar Pascoe
The Frightened City Paddy Damion
1962 The Longest Day Pte. Flanagan
Dr. No James Bond
1963 From Russia with Love James Bond
1964 Marnie Mark Rutland
Woman of Straw Anthony Richmond
Goldfinger James Bond
1965 The Hill Trooper Joe Roberts
Thunderball James Bond
1966 Un monde nouveau Himself (cameo)
A Fine Madness Samson Shillitoe
1967 You Only Live Twice James Bond
The Bowler and the Bunnet Himself (Director; documentary)
1968 Shalako Moses Zebulon 'Shalako' Carlin
1970 The Molly Maguires Jack Kehoe
1971 The Red Tent Roald Amundsen
The Anderson Tapes John Anderson
Diamonds Are Forever James Bond
1972 España campo de golf Himself (short subject)
1973 The Offence Detective Sergeant Johnson
1974 Zardoz Zed
Murder on the Orient Express Colonel Arbuthnot
1975 Ransom Nils Tahlvik
The Dream Factory Himself (documentary)
The Wind and the Lion Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli the Magnificent
The Man Who Would Be King Daniel Dravot
1976 Robin and Marian Robin Hood
1976 The Next Man Khalil Abdul-Muhsen
1977 A Bridge Too Far Maj. Gen. Roy Urquhart
1979 The First Great Train Robbery Edward Pierce/John Simms/Geoffrey
Meteor Dr. Paul Bradley
Cuba Maj. Robert Dapes
1981 Outland Marshal William T. O'Niel Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Actor
Time Bandits King Agamemnon/Fireman
1982 G'olé! Narrator (documentary)
Five Days One Summer Douglas Meredith
Wrong Is Right Patrick Hale
1983 Sean Connery's Edinburgh Himself (short subject)
Never Say Never Again James Bond (Unofficial James Bond film)
1984 Sword of the Valiant The Green Knight
1986 Highlander Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez
The Name of the Rose William of Baskerville BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1987 The Untouchables Jim Malone Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
NBR Award for Best Supporting Actor
KCFCC Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1988 The Presidio Lt. Col. Alan Caldwell
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Professor Henry Jones Senior Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Family Business Jessie McMullen
1990 The Hunt for Red October Captain Marko Ramius Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
The Russia House Bartholomew 'Barley' Scott Blair
1991 Highlander II: The Quickening Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves King Richard I (uncredited cameo)
1992 Medicine Man Dr. Robert Campbell
1993 Rising Sun Capt. John Connor (also executive producer)
1994 A Good Man in Africa Dr. Alex Murray
1995 The Thief and the Cobbler Tack the Cobbler (voice; original version; unconfirmed)
Just Cause Paul Armstrong (also executive producer)
First Knight King Arthur
1996 Dragonheart Draco (voice)
The Rock Capt. John Patrick Mason (Ret.) (also executive producer)
1998 The Avengers Sir August de Wynter
Playing by Heart Paul
1999 Entrapment Robert MacDougal (also producer)
2000 Finding Forrester William Forrester
2003 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Allan Quatermain (also co-producer)
2005 From Russia with Love James Bond (voice and likeness) video game
2010 Sir Billi Sir Billi (voice, also executive producer) animated film
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