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This was the legendary self-introduction which introduced one of the most iconic characters of all time to the world. The man behind them was both a proud Scotsman and an era-defining star who always rocked an aura of charm. During his life he thrilled fans around the world throughout a fruitful Hollywood career that spanned decades. Recently, the great Sean Connery passed away at the age of 90.
Connery was the first man to embody Ian Fleming’s smooth-talking secret agent character in the on-going film series and would continue do so for a total of seven films. Beginning with “Dr. No” in 1962, Connery introduces us to the character with the all familiar self-introduction after Sylvia Trench asks his name. Bond calmly lighting his cigarette before giving her an answer, while the classic Bond theme music begins to fade up in the background combines to form an iconic piece of cinema which put down a marker for the rest of the series. Similarly, when Ursula Andress emerged from the Caribbean Sea wearing a white bikini with a large hunting knife at her side, she set the tone for all Bond girls to come. Ultimately, “Dr. No” created an exciting sense that cinema would never be the same again.
Connery’s success would continue to grow after “From Russia with Love” (1963). Then in 1964 he gave us what many consider the strongest film in the series in “Goldfinger”. Connery’s 007 was a more dangerous man than the character in Ian Fleming’s books. As comfortable as he was with them, Connery’s Bond seemed to take less enjoyment in the fast cars, tailored suits, beautiful women and vodka martinis, but rather used them to his benefit all in the line of duty, for queen and country. Following “Thunderball”, “You only Live Twice” and “Diamonds are Forever”, Connery’s final portrayal of 007 came after he had been away from the character for over a decade in “Never say Never Again.” A number of different actors have gone on to play the iconic character but many would argue that none played the part as indelibly as Mr. Connery.
Current Bond actor, Daniel Craig said that Connery was “one of the true greats of cinema”, while Pierce Brosnan, another former Bond, paid tribute to Connery saying “You were mighty in every way, as an actor and as a man, and will remain so till the end of time.” It seems that Connery also had as much of an impact off-screen as he did on-screen. In the book ‘Jack Charlton’s American World Cup Diary,’ former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton tells the story of how he received a phone call from Connery before Ireland’s win against Italy at USA’94, wishing him the best of luck.
Connery continued to star in many more successful films, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which he played Indy’s father, Professor Henry Jones. Director George Lucas said of Connery, “He will always hold a special place in my heart as Indy’s dad. With an air of intelligent authority and sly sense of comedic mischief, only someone like Sean Connery could render Indiana Jones immediately into boyish regret or relief through a stern fatherly chiding or rejoiceful hug.”
Connery was a real, classic movie star. Stylish and charismatic with little or no interest in celebrity. Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of Daniel Craig’s take on Bond, which gives 007 an ice-cold, ruthless edge we haven’t seen before. However, I still remember the first time I came across one of Connery’s, it was during my Christmas holidays while I was in primary school. Even at that age I couldn’t get over how effortlessly cool he seemed or how naturally the Bond charm seemed to flow from him. As a viewer you’d be forgiven for wondering whether or not he was even acting at all.
Given what so many people have said about Connery since his passing, it’s difficult to figure out which is more impressive, his embodiment of the character or the legacy of the man himself. When it all comes down to it however, I don’t think he would even be the type to give all that much thought. Instead I think he lived his life by a much simpler sort of code which can be summed up perfectly by both of Connery’s tattoos. One which reads, “Mum and Dad” and the other, “Scotland Forever”.