- Oscar-winner Sean Connery has died at the age of 90, the BBC reported.
- The Scottish actor, born Thomas Sean Connery in 1930, starred in over 50 movies spanning his more than 60-year career.
- Best known for playing James Bond, Connery played the debonair secret agent in seven films spanning from 1962 to 1983.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Oscar-winner Sean Connery has died at the age of 90, the BBC reported on Saturday.
Best known for playing James Bond, Connery played the debonair secret agent in seven films spanning from 1962 to 1983.
The Scottish actor, born Thomas Sean Connery in 1930, starred in over 50 movies spanning his more than 60-year career. Aside from playing 007, Connery starred in 1964’s “Marnie,” 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and 1990’s “The Hunt for Red October.” He won a best-supporting Academy Award in for 1987’s “The Untouchables.”
In a 1987 interview, Barbara Walters described Connery as someone who didn’t try to be sexy, something which made him all the more attractive to fans. Not only was the actor named the sexiest man by People at the age of 59, but a decade later, Connery was named the sexiest man of the century by New Woman magazine.
While he’s best known as Bond, there was a time where the Edinburgh native almost didn’t become an actor. It’s not something the rather private Connery even would have considered doing.
Life-changing decision to become an actor
Connery stayed there until he was discharged three years later due to a stomach ulcer. Back in Edinburgh, he took up many different jobs, ranging from coffin polisher to lifeguard. He also took up bodybuilding and traveled to London to participate in 1953’s Mr. Universe.
Sean Connery appears fourth from the left as number “24” in a Mr. Universe contest. According to Connery’s own website, he came in third in the competition in 1953. The above photo is dated 1950 on Getty Images.
Ullstein bild via Getty Images
That led to some modeling gigs and a part touring with “South Pacific.” While traveling, some of the cast played a local soccer team. According to the Express, Connery wasn’t that bad and the manager of Manchester United offered him a contract on the team. Though he loved the sport, the then 23-year-old Connery didn’t think a soccer career would be practical and decided to stick with acting.
“I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30 and I was already 23,” Connery said, according to Express. “I decided to be an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”
It wound up being a life-altering choice.
Sean Connery appears in a scene from “Goldfinger” as James Bond dines with M and the Prime Minister.
Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images
Connery told Barbara Walters in 1987 he never had any intentions of becoming an actor. At the time, he was receiving about $15 per week (£12). But after a year of doing “South Pacific,” Connery was calling himself just that as he took up reading Shakespeare and other works at the library during his free time.
Through his work with “South Pacific,” he started getting roles as extras. His first film role was in the 1955 musical “Lilacs in the Spring.” He had bit roles in several TV series like “Dixon of Dock Green” and “The Jack Benny Program” before landing a major role in 1958’s “Another Time, Another Place” with Lana Turner and Disney’s 1959 film “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”
According to Vanity Fair, it was that Disney film which helped him land Bond. In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Connery said Cary Grant was creator Ian Fleming’s first choice for the role; however, the actor was too expensive for the film.
A poster for the first James Bond movie shows stars Ursula Andress and Sean Connery in 1962.
LMPC / Contributor via Getty Images
In the same interview, Connery said he didn’t feel his original meeting for Bond was successful. But producer Cubby Broccoli showed his wife footage of Connery in the Disney live-action flick and she immediately saw him as Bond.
Fleming wasn’t thrilled with the choice, according to Connery.
“I never got introduced to Fleming until I was well into the movie but I know he was not happy with me as the choice,” he later told Melvin Brigg on the “South Bank Show” in 2008.
Sean Connery stars in “From Russia, With Love” with Daniela Bianchi.
Bettmann via Getty Images
“What was it he called me, or told somebody? That I was an over-developed stunt man. He never said it to me,” Connery added. “When I did eventually meet him he was very interesting, erudite, and a snob – a real snob.”
Connery starred as the first Bond in 1962’s “Dr. No.” He then starred as the spy in four consecutive movies including “From Russia With Love,” “Goldfinger,” “Thunderball,” and “You Only Live Twice.”
He later returned to play Bond in 1971’s “Diamonds are Forever” and reprised the character one last time in 1983’s “Never Say Never Again.”
The Bond legacy and beyond
Though Connery said he had fun making the earlier films, the paparazzi and attention bothered him a bit.
While the Bond movies made Connery famous, and somewhat of a sex symbol, they aren’t something he remembered with absolute fondness.
“The films got more and more difficult for me to make because they were never well planned and they were always being rewritten,” Connery told Barbara Walters in 1987.
His sudden worldwide popularity made him the object of paparazzi. It was something the rather private Connery never cared much for, saying in multiple interviews he disliked the press hounding him in public.
“You can’t imagine going to a country like Japan and to have 500 photographers wherever you went,” Connery told “60 Minutes.” “Even in the toilet, putting the camera under the door. Unbelievable.”
Connery reportedly quit the Bond movies after “You Only Live Twice” because of a feud with Broccoli and his salary.
Micheline Roquebrune accompanies her husband, Sean Connery, at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003.
Kim D. Johnson/AP
During this time, Connery married actress Diane Cilento in 1962, with whom he had a son, Jason. After the two divorced in 1973, Connery married his second wife, painter Micheline Roquebrune two years later. Roquebrune famously painted Connery in a yellow bathrobe, which hung in their home.
The painting could be seen in a 1987 interview with Barbara Walters.
Academy Award winner and Indiana Jones
Sean Connery holds up his Oscar at the 60th Academy Awards on April 11, 1988.
Connery’s role in 1987’s “The Untouchables” landed him his only Oscar for supporting actor. The actor received a standing ovation when he accepted the award at the 60th annual Academy Awards.
“Patience truly is a virtue,” said Connery when taking the stage.
From the late ’80s to early ’90s, Connery starred in some of his most recognizable roles aside from Bond.
He played Harrison Ford’s father in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” co-starred alongside Alec Baldwin in another spy thriller, “The Hunt for Red October,” and voiced the dragon in “Dragonheart.”
Harrison Ford and Sean Connery on the set of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
In 1996, he was awarded the Cecil B DeMille Award and recounted how a friend once told him to lose his accent if he wanted to make it as an actor. He obviously didn’t listen.
“A number of decades ago, when I started in this business, I was told, by someone who seemed to know what he was talking about, that I should take lessons to erase permanently so I could take parts without wearing a kilt and so that the American audiences could understand what the hell I was saying,” Connery told the crowd to laughs.
Sir Sean Connery and wife Micheline Roquebrune at the 34th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring the actor in Hollywood California in 2006.
But Connery was making a point that it didn’t matter what background anyone came from in order to be a success in Hollywood. They just needed to be able to engage viewers in the stories they were telling.
“I think if actors and actresses are good at what they do and if you, the audience, are affected by the stories we helped to tell, then that’s the real reward,” he continued. “Truthfully, it’s the stuff in between the punches, the shootings, and the car crashes that really count… In other words, I prefer my audiences stirred, not shaken.”
Passing on “The Lord of the Rings” and retiring from Hollywood
Sean Connery at the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award event for Al Pacino on June 7, 2007.
Connery had the opportunity to play Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, but turned it down.
“I never understood it. I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t understand it,” Connery said, according to the Huffington Post.
The role was played by Sir Ian McKellen. The “LOTR” trilogy grossed more than $2.9 billion worldwide and spawned a prequel series. A TV series at Amazon is currently in the works.
Instead, Connery starred in the 2003 adaptation of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” a film which had its difficulties behind the scenes. According to Entertainment Weekly, Connery and director Stephen Norrington “butted egos over virtually every element of the production.” The film, which was supposed to launch a franchise, flopped with poor reviews and $179 million worldwide.
The comic-book adaptation was his last live-action film.
Sean Connery is in the center of the poster for “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
20th Century Fox
Connery retired from acting not long after accepting the American Film Institute lifetime achievement award in 2006. Though he later voiced characters in a video game and in a 2012 animated movie, Connery was done on screen.
Not even Steven Spielberg could get him to return for a small part in the fourth “Indiana Jones” movie. According to the actor, the part was too small.
In 2011, his close friend Michael Caine, reiterated Connery’s retirement, saying Connery would never do another movie because of the roles he was being offered.
“The movie business retired him because he didn’t want to play small parts about old men and they weren’t offering him any young parts in romantic leads,” Caine told the Telegraph.
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