“The name is Bond, James Bond.” No one said the iconic line quite like the Scottish superstar Sean Connery. With due respect to Daniel Craig—and I am sure he will agree with me—there never be another Bond-like Sean, a Bond who bonded with the audience like no other. Sean Connery first played James Bond in 1962 in Dr. No. He went on to play the role in seven subsequent films all mega-hits. As dry as the martini Bond enjoyed, Connery’s 007 was a tour de force of comic-book heroism replete with set pieces and choreographed stunts which he carried off with a Scottish virility.
The wenches were swooning. But Sean was sick of it. He confessed dealing with the popularity that Bond got him was a bit of a nightmare. He wanted out. In 1971 he did what he thought was going to be his last Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. Thereafter he proceeded to do some of his most unforgettable roles and performances in films like The Wind & The Lion, The Man Who Would Be King, and most notably Robin & Marian, a gentle elegiac reworking of the Robinhood myth for which Connery personally coaxed the mythic Audrey Hepburn out of retirement.
Robin & Marian ranks as Connery’s career-best performance. A character in the film says, ‘He(Robin Hood) Has become a legend. Have you ever tried to fight a legend?’ Robin & Marian was like one legend playing another. It was more than that: it was one legend Sean Connery trapped in another legend James Bond, playing a third (Robin Hood).
Several masterly performances in semi-classics like The Name Of The Rose (where Connery was magnificent as a priest) and the gangster epic The Untouchables (which won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) followed. But Connery was not done with Bond as yet. In 1983 he returned as Bond for the last time in Never Say Never Again.
The scars of being permanently typecast never left Sean Connery’s career. Despite many magnificent performances outside Bond-age, Connery remained for all practical purposes, James Bond in the public mind. He hated being reminded of it. And why should he not? When he proved himself a versatile actor many times over?
His last full-length feature film appearance was in 2003 in Stephen Norrington’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, an extraordinarily awful film where our own Naseeruddin Shah got to share screen space with Connery. The film and its box office disaster left Sean deeply embittered. He never returned to a full-length role, moved to Spain to a life of amplified luxury with his second wife Micheline Roquebrune. They were together till his death on October 30 at 90.
A life well-lived, a career that spanned generations and a role that made him a household name, Sean Connery couldn’t have asked for more.
Image Source: IMDb
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