The REAL Bond Gone: Sean Connery Dies, Aged 90

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Sean Connery, 90, has died peacefully in his sleep after a long illness, according to his son Jason. Fittingly, he died in the Bahamas, where Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming had retired and wrote the novels at the outset of the Cold War.

Say what we might about the subsequent “Bonds” and what wit and verve they brought to the role, the baritone-voiced Connery remains the long-running film franchise’s greatest player. Connery was the founding architect of the brutal-but-sophisticated, super-dry template for the character, to which the long line of subsequent talented actors merely brought their own flair. Along with Connery’s execution and balletic attention to detail in the role, he managed, also, to incorporate the hidden, almost cheetah-like physicality of the Cold War — a lot of running, a lot of doing, and in between, bursts of quiet, desperate violence.

The Scottish actor’s charm, his ability to maintain an inner balance and wry bemusement despite the cinematic violence unfolding around him, and his resonant, leathery baritone won him many fans. He reportedly got the nod for the role of the first Bond — in Dr. No, from Albert “Cubby” Broccoli — over more established actors because Broccoli’s wife Dana had seen the audition and lobbied hard for Connery. Mrs. Broccoli was dead right, and Connery’s unbeatable combination of proper British stiff-upper-lip and working-class ferocity in battle became the Bond template.

Sean connery
American actor sean connery’s onset of the movie james bond: never say never again, directed by irvin kershner. (photo by bob penn/sygma/sygma via getty images) sygma via getty images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He set the pattern for subsequent actors in the role in another way, too: Like his chief heir apparent in the “brutal Bond” school, Daniel Craig, Connery famously fell in and out of love with the role. In total, the Scotsman performed in six Broccoli-produced Bond films: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds Are Forever. He also appeared as Bond in 1983’s non-Broccoli production, Never Say Never Again. In the late Sixties, he refused the role for one film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was replaced in the role by George Lazenby, then was bluntly coaxed back by Broccoli in 1971 with a giant pile of cash for the aptly-titled Diamonds Are Forever.

Scottish actor sean connery and actress jill st john
Las vegas, usa – may 01: scottish actor sean connery and actress jill st john relax on the set of the james bond film ‘diamonds are forever’ on may 1, 1971, in las vegas, usa. (photo by anwar hussein/getty images)

Connery’s extracurricular acting career did not suffer, nor cause him to be type-cast: He appeared as a Russian submarine commander in The Hunt For Red October, as a member of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and famously, as Indiana Jones’ obstreperous father. His classical roles, such as that of Macbeth for Canadian television in 1961 — his first appearance in North America — were legendary.

He won an Oscar relatively late in his career, for yet another iconic performance, in 1988’s The Untouchables. His acceptance speech was ultimately very Scottish: blunt and characteristically witty. “Patience,” he began, at once understatedly chiding the Academy and acknowledging his own middle age, “truly is a virtue.”

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Born in a working-class district of Edinburgh in 1930, Connery, who never lost his feel for Scotland or his desire for Scottish independence, brought twin gifts to each of his roles: An enormous gravitas coupled with a mercurial lightness of foot. It’s why, despite the cartoonish renderings of their day, the Connery Bond films actually hold up, and why Connery himself did not become a cartoon within them. With a wink, he kept it dead serious. You might think to know the story, but Connery made you wonder, hard, what Bond was going to do.

 

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