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Sir Sean Connery, A Living Legend
By Jarrod Sarafin
June 10, 2007
Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE(1989).
© Paramount Pictures & Lucasfilm Ltd
The rumors have been thick in recent weeks that Sir Thomas Sean Connery would be returning from his retirement in order to reprise his Henry Jones Sr. character in Indiana Jones 4. If you keep up with said news, you would have found out those rumors are now proven false. It seems that Connery could be fully retired from film & acting, instead dedicating his time solely to his retirement.
Here’s the official press release from Paramount:
John Hurt has joined the previously-announced Cate Blanchett and Ray Winstone in Indiana Jones 4, while Sean Connery has made it official that he won’t be returning. Here’s the official press release:
Several stars have thrown their hats into the ring to join Harrison Ford and Shia LeBeouf in Indiana Jones’ latest whip-cracking adventure. Next year, when the new Indiana Jones movie opens worldwide on May 22, Indy will share the screen with Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone and John Hurt.
Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett has established herself as one of the preeminent leading actresses in film today, earning her first Best Actress nomination for her title role in Elizabeth, for which she received a BAFTA and Golden Globe Award. She continued to draw acclaim for significant roles in The Talented Mr. Ripley, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Notes on a Scandal and Babel. In 2005, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator, and this year was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Cate is currently filming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button costarring Brad Pitt and directed by David Fincher.
Known for his layered and nuanced performances of tough guys, Ray Winstone drew international praise for his role as Gal Dove in Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast. His recent screen credits include Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur, and Anthony Minghella’s Breaking & Entering. Winstone’s voice can be heard as Mr. Beaver in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Ray will next be seen in the title role of Beowulf opening November 16, 2007 directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Academy Award nominee John Hurt, whose career in film spans more than 40 years, has played memorable roles in movies both big and small. His impressive body of work includes such films as V for Vendetta, Elephant Man, 1984, Midnight Express, Contact, and Alien. On television, he won world-wide acclaim for his role of Caligula in “I, Claudius” and Quentin Crisp, in “The Naked Civil Servant”.
While the man with the hat is back, this time he’s not bringing his Dad. Sean Connery, who retired from acting in 2005, said:
“I get asked the question so often, I thought it best to make an announcement. I thought long and hard about it and if anything could have pulled me out of retirement it would have been an Indiana Jones film. I love working with Steven and George, and it goes without saying that it is an honor to have Harrison as my son. But in the end, retirement is just too damned much fun. I, do however, have one bit of advice for Junior: Demand that the critters be digital, the cliffs be low, and for goodness sake keep that whip by your side at all times in case you need to escape from the stunt coordinator! This is a remarkable cast, and I can only say, ‘Break a leg, everyone.’ I’ll see you on May 22, 2008 at the theater!”
As you can see, he gave some glowing praise and wished director Spielberg, producer Lucas & star Harrison well with the endeavor of Indiana Jones 4. A lot of people felt that if any movie would bring him out of retirement, this film would do it.
Since the answer is now confirmed “No”, it’s reasonable to believe that he is indeed done with acting after becoming disheartened by the direction that Hollywood has taken. It’s almost sad to see that his last live action film is League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). This is a movie which caused quite a controversy from on the set reports that Sean and director Stephen Norrington had physical altercations and shouting matches that could be heard from several studio lots away. A movie which failed in the box office and generally garnered average to poor reviews.
This is an acting legend after all.
The important thing to remember is while the last movie may have been horrible in press & critical circles, the legend who starred in it made an ever lasting impact long before that film was ever shot. One movie doesn’t make or break a career as long as Connery has on his resume. No, years of dedication are what he’ll be remembered for.
His impact on the movie culture for the last 40 years is what he’ll be remembered for, first and foremost.
He has his share of controversy surrounding him in similar circumstances that transpired on his last film but then again, most people in Hollywood have skeletons in their closet. When looking at an actor, actress, producer or director who made a powerful impact in their career, sometimes it can be hard to keep the personal living demons they carried separate from their acting accomplishments. Truth be told, it can be damn hard.
Sean Connery, like anyone else, has his fair share of personal life demons which surround him.
It’s been widely reported about his stance on “slapping a woman” under some circumstances. Connery’s first wife, Diane Cilento, claimed that he beat her on several occasions in her auto biography “My Nine Lives”. Obviously this could be truth on her part or total lies to sell her books. Connery vehemently denied the accusation but it’s always been hard for some people to believe it given his public acknowledgements on it being okay to sometimes slap a woman. In a 1965 interview with Playboy magazine, the actor said it was okay to sometimes resort to physical force to “keep them in line”. Years later in 1987 in an interview with Barbara Walters, he stated the exact same things. Again later in 93, he was quoted in Vanity Fair on the same issue.
“There are women who take it to the wire. That's what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation. They want a smack."---Sean Connery in a 1993 Vanity Fair issue.
Obviously, this isn’t the best aspects of his personal beliefs as covered in the media over the last few decades. In fact, it’s impossible to escape this kind of stance even when writing about it right here at Mania.
But that won’t stop his career from speaking for itself.
Connery is best known as the very first theatrical version of James Bond. There was a short lived TV series in the 50’s starring Fleming’s Bond character but United Artist brought the character to the movies in the 60s, a character which still lives today in a movie franchise formula almost 50 years later.
The living legendary actor would star as Agent 007 in seven bond films; six were EON/MGM sanctioned and one which wasn’t sanctioned. Upon the release of You Only Live Twice, Connery quit his portrayal of the character after becoming tired of the plots being similar, lack of character development (actor Pierce Brosnan would later complain about the same issue), the use of gadgets and the massive popularity imposing on his private life and family. The studio quickly filled in the role with actor George Lazenby for On Her Magesty’s Secret Service in 69 but he was out of the role as well after only one film. The studios once again had to fill in the role again. While searching for a new lead, the studio ended up convincing Connery back again for it by offering him a very large salary (1.25 million ) and behind the scenes cutting a deal for him to lead up two other future film projects for them. He ended up donating the salary to charity.
-Dr. No (1962)
-From Russia With Love (1963)
-You Only Live Twice (1967)
-Diamonds are Forever (1971)
-Never Say Never Again (1983)
After Diamonds are Forever hit theaters, Connery was offered to reprise Bond in Live and Let Die but this time, he declined and elected to put Bond to rest for his career. Instead, he opted to begin producing the two films awarded him by United Artists as part of his Diamonds are Forever contract.
There’s a touch of irony here.
This would be a time where he’s finally free in his eyes of playing James Bond but it would also begin a dissent between him and Hollywood. His first film in the contract, The Offence, was shut down and buried by United Artists. It would be one of the first circumstances where the actor and the studios didn’t see eye to eye. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be the last.
The actor went on to appear in some notable movies from the 70s which starred him alongside some memorable actors such as the fellow knighted Sir Lawrence Olivier;
70s Films which Sean Connery appeared in:
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
The Wind and the Lion (1975)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
Robin and Marian (1976)
The Next Man (1976)
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
The First Great Train Robbery (1979)
Needless to say, he was rather busy. Look at the marathon of timing he did with the Bond films in the 60s. Now, look at his resume of the 70s. He was known to star or appear in quite a few films in the very same year. Obviously with so much work for the actor and with so much demand for him year after year, he refined his skills in the arts as time moved forward. Also, here’s a fun trivia fact for you with the above listing. Sean would star as Robin Hood in Robin and Marian (1976) and would later also appear in the end of Robin Hood (1991) as King Richard.
It would be the 80s where Sean Connery made the impact of my generation in the movie culture. He would appear and star as some iconic characters between 1980-1990. What iconic genre specific characters?
Well, I’ll list the characters I remember from the 80s:
Time Bandits (1981)—character King Agammemnon
Never Say Never Again (1983)---character James Bond
Sword of the Valiant (1984)-----character The Green Knight
Highlander (1986)-----character Juan Ramirez
The Untouchables (1987)-----Officer Jim Malone
The Presidio (1988)-------Col. Caldwell
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1989)-------Henry “Dad” Jones!
It was these characters which resonate within my own mind as to the impact he had on me personally. These are films which I’ve loved watching countless times and I have to wonder what the films would have been like without Connery in them. His characters in these films are iconic in my eyes.
What about you?
A few years later, the generation younger then mine got to know him again when he would later lead up Bruckheimer’s The Rock (1966), enough for him to win an MTV movie award in 97. Obviously, this type of movie is for that generation to remember him from. Not mine.
Sure, it would be horrible experiences and failures on The Avengers (1998) and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) which would convince Sean Connery that his acting career had come to an end. A disconnect between his beliefs, what the studio wanted to churn out & what the audiences were connecting to lately also helped him in his decision to leave his acting career.
Whatever the case, the man is a living legend.
Steven Spielberg once said “There are seven genuine movie stars in the world today and Sean is one of them.”
Obviously it’s up for debate that there is more then 7 of them out there. What’s not for debate is the honest truth behind Sir Thomas Sean Connery being one of them.