Connery. Sean Connery.
What can you say about a man whose work already had achieved a legendary status during his lifetime? A man who was one of the last true movie stars. A versatile actor who got the chance at big time stardom early in his career by taking on a part which nobody knew would still generate blockbuster movies almost 60 years later.
Countless obituaries will give you all the details about Connery´s long and productive career, about the many awards he was given, the big range of films he starred in. In fact, I had already written one such obituary, as it is always done for newspapers so one can react immediately at the sad news which inevitably come. But when I learned about Connery´s death today and reread what I had written I did not think it did justice to what I actually thought and felt. So I threw it away and started again.
Because we´re here on a James Bond fan site. And people come and discuss all things related to this character for one reason.
If he had not starred in “Dr. No” we would not have gotten the series of films which built on that surprise success. If Connery had not embodied Ian Fleming´s creation so charismatically, giving the character his own spin, audiences would not have wanted more of it.
Sure, every generation gets its own Bond actor to celebrate, and some here would consider Connery not even their favourite. I was born in 1969, ironically the year of George Lazenby´s only turn as Bond, but I grew up with Roger Moore, the one actor who was able to carry the torch Connery had left behind and cemented the immortal status of the film series for all future incarnations. When I saw Connery as Bond for the first time I was even taken aback at how different he was from Moore. I was admittedly a bit scared of him because he was so much more forceful and sardonic and at times even cruel. But I discovered very soon that he was a perfect Bond. I saw a man who entered a room and commanded it. A man who was really a man, possessing strength and wit and skills, employing brute force but only when it was needed, showing fear without giving in to it, standing his ground even in the face of insurmountable problems or bad guys trying to start World War III from a hollowed out volcano. A man whose toughness was never mean-spirited but an asset to rely on.
Of course, as we all know, the proudly Scottish actor born in Edinburgh as Thomas Sean Connery, was eager to move on from Bond, establishing himself not only as a popular star actor but also as someone who did not play along with the idiocy of the film industry. He always fought for what he felt was right, he carved out his space and delivered performances which proved that he could do anything as an actor. His wry humour lifted every film he starred in, his appearance even seemed to become more powerful the older he got. The camera loved him, and so did world wide audiences. When he decided to retire and not make any movie anymore, cinema was all the poorer for it.
Yes, I never knew Sean Connery personally. And I would never claim that I at least felt as if I knew him, just from watching his movies. Still, there is a certain (pardon the pun) bond between a performer and his audience. Something that immediately pulls us into a story when the actor is skilled and charming and compelling enough to do so. Sean Connery was one of those rare actors, and to think that he, even after a long life of 90 years, has left us, is hard to accept. Because this reminds us that this part of the past is really gone. His absence is a huge loss. There are not many actors of such iconic stature around anymore, and there are not many who reach that point in today´s cinema. And in a year which already saw the deaths of Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Michael Lonsdale, the passing of Sean Connery is another gutpunch for us Bond fans. A year which did not allow us to watch the last Bond film of Daniel Craig´s tenure now even takes away the first and greatest and best Bond of them all.
But as Sean Connery as Bond has taught us: never give up. Fight for what is right. Keep up the good work. And stay in the game until the evil geniuses are taken care of.
Photo: © 1962 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Danjaq, LLC.