Nationality: British. Born: Thomas Connery in Edinburgh, Scotland, 25 August 1930. Education: Attended Edinburgh School of Art. Family: Married 1) the actress Diane Cilento, 1962 (divorced 1973), children: Jason and Giovana; 2) Micheline Roquebrun, 1975, stepson: Stefan. Career: 1945—in Royal Navy but discharged because of ulcers; late 1940s-early 1950s—bodybuilder and model; 1951–53—toured in chorus of South Pacific ; mid-1950s—gained acting experience in repertory theater; 1955—first film, Lilacs in the Spring ; contract with 20th Century-Fox the following year; 1957–62—in small and featured roles in non-Fox productions; 1962—first appearance as James Bond; 1969—directed unreleased documentary film The Bowler and the Bonnet ; 1972—formed production company Tantallon Productions. Awards: Golden Globe Award for World Film Favorite-Male, 1972; ShoWest Worldwide Star of the Year, 1982; D. W. Griffith Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, National Board of Review Best Supporting Actor Award, and Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, for The Untouchables , 1987; British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Actor, for The Name of the Rose , 1988; Légion d'honneur (France); National Board of Review Career Achievement Award, 1993; Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, 1995; Academy Fellowship, British Academy Awards, 1998; European Film Awards Audience Award for Best Actor, for Entrapment , 1999; ShoWest Lifetime Achievement Award, 1999. Agent: Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.
Lilacs in the Spring ( Let's Make Up ) (Wilcox) (bit part)
No Road Back (Tully) (as Spike)
Hell Drivers (Endfield) (as Johnny); Time Lock (Thomas) (as welder); Action of the Tiger (Terence Young) (as Mike)
Another Time, Another Place (Lewis Allen) (as Mark Trevor); A Night to Remember (Baker)
Darby O'Gill and the Little People (Stevenson) (as Michael McBride); Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (Guillermin) (as O'Bannion)
The Frightened City (Lemont) (as Paddy Damion); On the Fiddle ( Operation Snafu ) (Frankel) (as Pedlar Pascoe)
The Longest Day (Annakin, Marton, Wicki, and Zanuck) (as Pvt. Flanagan); Dr. No (Terence Young) (as James Bond)
From Russia with Love (Terence Young) (as James Bond)
Woman of Straw (Dearden) (as Anthony Richmond); Marnie (Hitchcock) (as Mark Rutland); Goldfinger (Hamilton) (as James Bond)
The Hill (Lumet) (as Joe Roberts); Thunderball (Terence Young) (as James Bond)
A Fine Madness (Kershner) (as Samson Shillitoe)
You Only Live Twice (Lewis Gilbert) (as James Bond)
Shalako (Dmytryk) (title role)
The Molly McGuires (Ritt) (as Jack Kehoe); La tenda rossa ( The Red Tent ) (Kalatozov) (as Amundsen)
The Anderson Tapes (Lumet) (as Duke Anderson); Diamonds Are Forever (Hamilton) (as James Bond)
The Offence (Lumet) (as Johnson)
Zardoz (Boorman) (as Zed)
The Terrorists ( Ransom ) (Wrede) (as Nils Tahlvik); Murder on the Orient Express (Lumet) (as Col. Arbuthnott)
The Wind and the Lion (Milius) (as Mulay El Raisuli); The Man Who Would Be King (Huston) (as Daniel Dravot)
Robin and Marian (Lester) (as Robin Hood); The Next Man (Serafian) (as Khalif Abdul-Muhsen)
A Bridge Too Far (Attenborough) (as Maj. Gen. Urquhart)
The Great Train Robbery ( The First Great Train Robbery ) (Michael Crichton) (as Edward Pierce)
Meteor (Neame) (as Bradley); Cuba (Lester) (as Robert Dapes)
Time Bandits (Gilliam) (as King Agamemnon); Outland (Hyams) (as O'Neil)
Wrong Is Right ( The Man with the Deadly Lens ) (Richard Brooks) (as Patrick Hale); Five Days One Summer (Zinnemann—re-edited version released 1988) (as Douglas)
Never Say Never Again (Kershner) (as James Bond); Sword of the Valiant (Weeks) (as the Green Knight)
Highlander (Mulcahy) (as Ramirez); The Name of the Rose ( Rosa dei nomi ) (Annaud) (as William of Baskerville)
The Untouchables (De Palma) (as James Malone)
The Presidio (Hyams) (as Lt. Col. Alan Caldwell); Memories of Me (Henry Winkler) (as himself)
Family Business (Lumet) (as Jessie McMullen); Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg) (as Professor Henry Jones)
The Russia House (Schepisi) (as Barley Blair); The Hunt for Red October (McTiernan) (as Marko Ramius)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Kevin Reynolds) (as King Richard); Highlander II (Mulcahy) (as Ramirez)
Medicine Man (McTiernan) (as Dr. Robert Campbell, + exec pr)
Rising Sun (Kaufman) (as John Connor, + exec pr)
A Good Man in Africa (Beresford) (as Dr. Alex Murray)
Just Cause (Glimcher) (as Paul Armstrong, + exec pr); First Knight (Zucker) (as King Arthur)
Dragonheart (Cohen) (as voice of Draco); The Rock (Bay) (as John Patrick Mason, + exec pr)
The Avengers (Chechik) (as Sir August de Wynter); Playing by Heart (Carroll) (as Paul)
Entrapment (Amiel) (as Robert "Mac" MacDougal, + pr); The James Bond Story (doc) (Hunt—for TV) (as himself)
Finding Forrester (Van Sant)
Interview in Playboy (Chicago), November 1965.
"A Secretive Person," interview with G. Gow, in Films and Filming (London), March 1974.
Interviews in Ciné Revue (Paris), 3 September 1981 and 24 November 1983.
Interview with Ben Fong-Torres, in American Film (Hollywood), May 1989.
"Leading Man," interview with Robert Walsh, in Interview (New York), July 1989.
"Back in the USSR," interview with Robert Scheer, in Premiere (New York), April 1990.
"Straight Talk," interview with John H. Richardson, in Premiere (New York), February 1992.
"Great Scot," interview with Zoe Heller, in Vanity Fair (New York), June 1993.
"Never Say Die: Scots Myth," interview and article in Time Out (London), 29 March 1995.
Andrews, Emma, The Films of Sean Connery , Farncombe, Surrey, 1977.
Brosnan, John, James Bond in the Cinema , San Diego, 1981.
Rubin, Steven Jay, The James Bond Films , Westport, Connecticut, 1981.
Callan, Michael Feeney, Sean Connery , New York, 1983; rev. ed., 1993.
Passingham, Kenneth, Sean Connery: A Biography , London, 1983.
Durant, Philippe, Sean Connery , Paris, 1985.
Dupuis, Jean-Jacques, Sean Connery , Paris, 1986.
Sellers, Robert, The Films of Sean Connery , London, 1990.
Tanitch, Robert, Sean Connery , London, 1992.
Yule, Andrew, Sean Connery: From 007 to Hollywood Icon , New York, 1992.
Hunter, John, Great Scot: The Life of Sean Connery , London, 1993.
Parker, John, Sean Connery , Chicago, 1993.
Pfeiffer, Lee, and Philip Lisa, The Films of Sean Connery , Secaucus, New Jersey, 1993.
Freedland, Michael, Sean Connery: A Biography , London, 1994.
Houston, Penelope, "007," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1964–65.
Crichton, Michael, "Sean Connery: A Propensity for Stylish Mayhem," in Close-Ups: The Movie Star Book , edited by Danny Peary, New York, 1978.
Films Illustrated (London), October 1981.
Photoplay (London), January 1984.
"Sean Connery," in From Limelight to Satellite: A Scottish Film Book , edited by Eddie Dick, London, 1990.
Jones, A., "Sean Connery's Superstar Clout," in Cinefantastique (Oak Park, Illinois), vol. 21, no. 5, 1991.
Current Biography 1993 , New York, 1993.
Curreri, J., "Older, Sexier Sean Connery," in Classic Images (Muscatine, Iowa), January 1993.
Ortoli, Philippe & Alion, Yves, "Sean Connery," in Mensuel du Ciné ma (FR), November 1993.
Radio Times (London), 14 September 1996.
Cousins, Mark, "King of the Hill," in Sight & Sound (London), May 1997.
Norman, Barry, "Bond and Beyond," in Radio Times (London), 10 May 1997.
Murphy, Kathleen, "The Man Who Would be King," in Film Comment (New York), May-June 1997.
* * *
"There's nothing special about being an actor," Sean Connery once remarked. "It's a job, like being a carpenter or a bricklayer, and I've never stopped being amazed at the mystique people attach to my business." There is about all his roles—even kings, even desert chieftains, even the suave and supercilious James Bond—an attractively down-to-earth roughness, his Scots burr and robust physique anchoring the wilder flights of fantasy. In the early years of his stardom, he was often dismissed as a clumsy, limited player who had struck lucky. As evidence to the contrary built up, the critical consensus veered round: he came to be seen as a fine actor whose career had become shadowed by the unworthy role of Bond. But this, too, may be something of an oversimplification.
That Bond made Connery's career is undeniable. He was 32 when he was chosen for Dr. No , with an undistinguished batch of supporting parts to his credit. Had he not landed the role, it's hard to imagine him attaining super-stardom so fast, or perhaps at all; more likely, he'd have turned increasingly to television, which had always used him better. And for all the limitations of the Bond character, it allowed Connery to develop and explore his own potential, refining techniques that he would put to more varied use elsewhere.
At the same time, Connery made Bond. Probably no other British actor—with the exception of James Mason, also at one point considered for the role—could have matched the cool, insolent sexuality that Connery brought to his portrayal. And without his intensely physical presence fleshing out Fleming's "cardboard booby" (the author's own description) the cycle could scarcely have taken off as it did. Connery's Bond moved with a tensile grace, a feral virility touched with a disturbing edge of danger. Yet the suggestion of cruelty was set off—and made all the more attractive—by a glint of sardonic complicity, inviting the audience in on the joke. The balance was finely gauged. A straighter performance would have made the comic-strip violence distasteful; a more flippant one would have defused the menace.
The films themselves may be little more than glossy escapist trash, and Connery has grown weary of being tagged with the role that made him famous. Still, his achievement shouldn't be underestimated: he created a lasting cinematic icon, and effectively spoiled the part for his successors, who all appear lumbering or lightweight by comparison. Even as a jowly 53-year-old returning for what must surely (despite the title) be his last outing in the role in Never Say Never Again , he exuded an unmistakable authority; this, beyond the least doubt, was the real James Bond.
Connery's initial attempts to assert a wider range seemed inhibited by the 007 persona, either playing variations on it—Hitchcock's predatory sadist in Marnie —or self-consciously striving to look as unlike as possible: the sweaty imprisoned NCO of The Hill , or the boozy, disreputable poet in A Fine Madness. Only with the Bond cycle (barring his late comeback) safely behind him, did a distinct cinematic identity, inherent rather than willed, start to emerge. And in many ways it was the antithesis of everything Bond had stood for.
Where Bond was firmly on the winning side, smoothly amoral, arrogant, and assured, the emergent Connery appeared a noble, shaggy anachronism, upholding lost-cause moralities in a cynical world. Dreams of outmoded heroism, splendid and futile, alike entice his Arab chieftain in The Wind and the Lion , the backwoods empire-builder of The Man Who Would Be King , the space marshal of Outland , and the ageing Robin Hood of Robin and Marian. Skillfully varying the tone from the tongue-in-cheek whirlwind rhetoric of Milius's Raisuli to the poignantly elegiac Robin, a man struggling to inhabit his own legend, Connery invests such roles with a "strong innocence" (Richard Lester's phrase), a relaxed grandeur which always retains its edge of incipient violence.
And while Bond might be a loose cannon, his shots were always fired for the benefit of the (British) establishment. Post-Bond Connery was an instinctive rebel, reaching back to his own staunchly working-class background. The defiant NCO of The Hill paved the way for Connery's grim activist miner in The Molly Maguires , and for the disruptive sexuality of Zed the Exterminator in John Boorman's sci-fi parable Zardoz , invading the enclave of the flaccid elite like sperm into an ovum.
Growing age and eminence have inevitably blunted the edge of rebellion. Increasingly Connery has found himself playing authority figures, often monarchs: Agamemnon in Terry Gilliam's quirky Time Bandits , King Arthur (touchingly tender in his October-and-April romance with Julia Ormond) in First Kniqht , stealing the whole film with an unbilled cameo as Coeur-de-Lion at the end of Kevin Costner's Robin Hood. The authority is instinctive, never pompous: in The Hunt for Red October his Russian submarine captain exudes the same effortless confidence as his veteran cop in The Untouchables , the astute William of Baskerville in The Name of the Rose , and the 2,000-year-old warrior in the mystical tosh of Highlander. The teasing, knowing grin is rarely far from the surface, nor is the sexual magnetism. Connery has never troubled to maintain the illusion of youth; he's aged gracefully and handsomely, still capable of playing sexy with wit and style, every bit a match (as Indy's dad) for Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. By this stage in his career, Connery can do what he likes. He can play the voice of an animatronic dragon ( Dragonheart ), give a lazy performance in a mediocre film, such as Lumet's Family Business , or a downright bad performance in a terrible film ( The Avengers ). None of it matters, or can dent his status even fractionally. Sean Connery, in short, has gone beyond mere stardom to become an icon.