It was with great sadness that I heard yesterday of the passing of Sean Connery, a Scottish actor and one of the film legends. He was a man of incomparable charisma, whose acting and screen presence were always distinguishable and memorable. Possessing innate smoothness, gentleness and his very own recognisable sense of masculinity and vigour, he emanated the persona of a true gentleman and a real action hero on screen and both at the same time, inspiring warmth and a sense of awe in others. If there ever existed an actor or just a human being working in a film industry who personified the word “class”, it was Sir Sean Connery.
Sean Connery won his Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in The Untouchables (1987), but most people remember him as being the world’s first ever James Bond, which was also his breakth-rough role. And, Sean Connery will always be the James Bond in my eyes. Gallant and almost too nonchalant, but caring, romantically-involved, but objective, Connery was the most perfect cast for Fleming’s famous Agent 007. With his incomparable screen presence, he could get everyone following his character, no matter the location or the plot. Dr. No (1962) and From Russia With Love (1963) were good films, but my favourite James Bond film with Sean Connery has to be Goldfinger (1964). I think it was Alec Baldwin who put it best in his obituary article of the great man, saying that Connery had a “trifecta dynamic“, knowing [instinctively] “where masculinity, sensitivity, and intelligence intersected“. There had been other handsome actors before and after Connery, but I think it was Connery’s delicate combination of “masculinity, sensitivity and intelligence“, as well as his skill of presenting himself and his character’s actions as immersively as possible, that helped make him into a star.
His later roles are by no means less impressive, whether as charismatic Colonel Arbuthnot in Murder on the Orient Express (1974), who was suspected of a murder; as astute William von Baskerville in The Name of the Rose (1986), who penetrated the mystery of a secluded abbey, or as one unconventional submarine Captain in The Hunt for Red October (1990). Whatever was his role at any given moment, Connery always displayed masterfully that particular sense of authority and control over any situation, remaining cool, calm and level-handed. With his often “regal” presence, it is no wonder he was often chosen to play kings, as he did so in First Knight (1995), playing King Arthur, or in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), where he made a cameo appearance in the role of King Richard. Few people also know that he was actually offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings films, but turned it down.
Some other interesting trivia from Sean Connery’s biography is that he joined the Royal Navy when he was sixteen, and was also a very keen and good football player who was once offered to play for Manchester United.
Sean Connery was an absolute star whose James Bond portrayal will always remain the most authentic, charismatic, “smooth” and almost too effortless. But, even in the actor’s smallest and most insignificant roles, he somehow always managed to imbue his characters with such distinctive presence and quiet sense of power that these also in time became memorable and cherished. May he rest in peace this film legend and a man of rare abilities.