Sean Connery is one of the great all-time movie stars. The Scottish actor has always had a strength and maturity buried deep within every character he has ever played; a resonance that adds an important layer to every role. He originated the character of James Bond on the big screen and it’s hard to believe that he was only 33 years old when he first portrayed Bond in Dr No back in 1962.
Connery fought hard to move away from the role of Bond in the 60s, taking varied roles such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie and the maligned western Shalako between Bondian jaunts. He left the character behind after 1967’s You Only Live Twice, but returned with Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 (becoming the world’s highest paid actor in the process).
The seventies saw Connery take a lot of risks, which somewhat damaged his bankability. Film’s like The Offence, Zardoz, Robin And Marion and The First Great Train Robbery subverted his James Bond image, however in retrospect they make his career so much more interesting.
In 1981 Connery starred in Outland, Peter Hyam’s loose remake of High Noon, while the same year saw him take-on Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. He returned to the role of James Bond in 1983 with the unofficial Bond movie, Never Say Never Again. The film went head-to-head with Roger Moore’s Octopussy at the box office and although it didn’t come out the winner, it is a great ‘80s-era Bond movie.
Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Highlander and The Name of the Rose saw Connery dabble in medieval thrills and he finally snagged an Academy Award for Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. The remainder of the ‘80s saw Connery deliver sterling work in The Presidio (with Peter Hyams again), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Family Business. The 1990s saw an increase in Connery’s box office might, delivering starring roles in the likes of the Jack Ryan adventure, The Hunt For Red October (where he famously ‘shails into hisshstory’), The Russia House and Rising Sun. He also delivered one of his best non-Bond action films in Michael Bay’s The Rock in 1996, although wasn’t so successful with The Avengers in 1998.
Sean Connery has received critical plaudits for his first film of the new millennium, Finding Forrester, but The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was to be the last time that Connery was to grace the big screen. The troubled adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel series saw Connery clash with the film’s director, Stephen Norrington, and he has never made a film since, declining the opportunity to return to the role of Henry Jones Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Over the decades Sean Connery has delivered many powerful performances, creating the template for James Bond, while also showing that growing old doesn’t mean that your days as a leading man have ended. Connery has had a varied filmography, with great drama sitting alongside action movies and quirky curiosities. It’s a great career – one which he should continue to be proud of.