Sean Connery, or should that be Sir Thomas Sean Connery, was a Scottish actor and producer who rose to fame in the 1960s as the first actor to take on the James Bond role.
With his rugged good looks, commanding presence, and distinctive and smooth Scottish accent, Connery quickly became one of the most recognized and respected actors in the world.
Connery appeared in a total of 6 Bond films, 7 if you include the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983). And his portrayal of the smooth, debonair British spy means he is regularly touted as the best Bond ever.
He might be best known for appearing in Bond movies, but he’s had a very successful career since hanging up his Walther PPK. He won numerous awards including an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film The Untouchables.
A Young Sean Connery
Sean Connery was born on August 25, 1930, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the son of a truck driver and a domestic cleaner, and was raised in a working-class neighbourhood.
Connery left school at 16 and joined the Royal Navy, and after his training at the Portsmouth naval gunnery school and anti-aircraft crew, Connery was appointed as an Able Seaman on HMS Formidable. Unfortunately, he had to be medically discharged at 19 due to a duodenal ulcer.
After leaving the Navy he took on a few jobs, putting his skills to being a lifeguard and a coffin polisher before eventually finding his way into the world of acting.
For more on Sean Connery’s young life, take a look at this more in-depth profile of A Young Sean Connery.
Sean Connery Actor
Sean Connery began his acting career in the 1950s, initially helping out backstage at King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. He won his first role for the musical South Pacific in 1953, which saw him tour the UK. While working on the South Pacific set, Connery met and became friends for life with Michael Caine.
In the mid-to-late 1950s Connery won roles in several TV shows before winning his first part in a movie in 1959. The Walt Disney Productions film Darby O’Gill and the Little People was a tale about a wily Irishman and his battle of wits with leprechauns. Not quite Bond!
But of course, Sean Connery is best known for his part in the Bond franchise and his biggest break saw him win the role as 007 for the first Bond movie Dr. No. He went on to star in 5 more Bond films, and his portrayal of the suave and sophisticated secret agent made him a household name and launched a successful film career that spanned more than five decades.
Sean Connery in Dr. No
Sean Connery’s first big role was as James Bond in the first movie of the franchise, Dr. No (1962).
The plot of the film saw Bond go to Jamaica to investigate the brutal murder of Station Chief of MI6 in Jamaica John Strangways and his secretary. And Bond ends up battling with psycho villain Dr. Julius No, a scientific genius bent on disrupting world peace.
Compared with modern Bond films, Dr. No is different, but is also regarded as a classic among Bond fans, and of course it set the scene for James Bond the suave and sophisticated womanising secret agent that we all grew to love.
Bond wasn’t started as a decades long franchise back then, so we didn’t get the big blockbuster opening, but it did introduce us to a tenacious, cool hero full of charm and able to do his job with much less of the amazing gadgets that Bond uses over the decades.
The first we see of Connery and Bond is when he’s playing a game of Baccarat at Le Cercle, Les Ambassadeurs Club in London. Sylvia Trench introduces herself after Bond asks her name. She then asks him and with an air of poise and assurance, he cooly lights a cigarette and introduces himself a ‘Bond, James Bond.’
Sylvia Trench becomes the first of many, and Bond continues to attract women, 2 more in Dr. No, with his irresistible magnetism, which Connery plays with amazing ease, and made him a household name with the female population and of course made him an icon for most boys.
With a license to kill Connery uses them as he comes up against evil Dr. Julius No and SPECTRE, who are threatening world peace. The action scenes are a bit dated, but it is 60 years ago, and is regarded as a classic for good reason.
Sean Connery in From Russia with Love
Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond in From Russia with Love is considered one of the best in the franchise. He delivers the witty one-liners that have become a hallmark of his Bond character, and his performance exudes sophistication and charm.
Despite the fact that the film was made in the early 1960s, Connery’s portrayal of Bond still resonates with modern audiences, although some will be dismayed at him slapping Tatiana Romanova after thinking she had something to do with the killing of Bey.
While Connery’s Bond sleeps with several Bond girls, a very notable moment comes when he requests that the fight between two gypsy girls, Vida and Zora, be stopped. Though Bond is rewarded with a night with both women, it is clear that he’s uncomfortable with the idea of two people fighting to the death. This moment showcases Connery’s sensitivity and compassion, which is not often associated with the Bond character.
One of the most memorable parts of the film is the confrontation between Bond and his rival, Donald ‘Red’ Grant. Grant is determined to kill Bond, but Bond outwits him with the help of Q’s gadgets and his quick thinking. The scene is a testament to Connery’s ability to bring both class and tension to his role as Bond.
The film’s climax features a showdown between Bond and Rosa Klebb, a former Soviet agent. Klebb is armed with a venom-coated dagger in the tip of her shoe, but Bond ultimately overcomes her with the help of Tatiana.
Tatiana’s remark to Bond about Klebb being an awful woman is met with Bond’s characteristic equanimity. He simply replies, “Yes… She had her kicks.” This scene perfectly captures the tension, humour, and sophistication that define Sean Connery’s Bond.
Sean Connery in Goldfinger
Goldfinger is regularly voted the best of all Sean Connery Bond films, especially of any Sean Connery. With the golden-covered women and Shirley Bassey singing the famous Bond theme, the opening scene is nothing short of legendary.
There are two memorable death scenes in the movie, with Bond electrocuting a henchman in a bathtub in the film’s opening scene, and the iconic scene where Bond girl Jill Masterson’s corpse is sprawled across the bed covered from head to toe in gold paint.
The movie is where Connery gives us his famous ‘Shaken, not stirred’ line when he orders a martini on the plane with Pussy Galore. The scene is also famous for Bond’s reaction when he wakes up in a slumber after being tranquillised.
He gets his focus and sees a beautiful woman in front of him, asking her ‘Who are you?’ She tells him ‘My name is Pussy Galore’ to which Bond ruefully smiles and says to himself, ‘I must be dreaming.’
A name that wouldn’t go down well today, Pussy Galore is one of Auric Goldfinger’s top henchwomen, but of course she becomes another Bond girl after she falls the way of many before and many more after her.
Goldfinger is more fun, even if it has a serious undertone, and it’s Connery’s most realistic performance with Bond coming up against iconic villains Goldfinger and Oddjob, who had earlier killed and painted Jill Masterson.
Sean Connery in Thunderball
If Goldfinger isn’t your favourite Connery film, then it’s likely Thunderball. The film has all the action of Dr. No, all the charisma of From Russia with Love, and maintains the magnificence of gadgets and scenes we got in Goldfinger.
The plot sees Bond up against SPECTRE criminal Emilio Largo, who is holding NATO to ransom after hijacking two atomic bombs. The film sees the reappearance of the iconic Aston Martin DB5 this time armed with a rear-firing water cannon.
Connery becomes the first Bond to use the famous jetpack rocket, after he escapes the château after assassinating SPECTRE operative, Jacques Bouvar. Armed men chase him out, but he’s up and away to a short flight from the roof of the château to his Aston Martin DB5 that’s parked nearby. A classic Bond scene and typically cool of Sean Connery’s Bond.
Thunderball saw Connery at his best philandering ways, attracting the immersion of new Bond girls Domino Derval, Paula Caplan, Patricia “Pat” Fearing and femme fatale Fiona Volpe all of whom couldn’t stop themselves from 007’s magnetic allure.
Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice
You Only Live Twice perfectly encapsulates the plot of this classic James Bond movie. At the start of the movie with a seemingly loyal woman at his side, Bond is thrust into a trap that sees him shot and seemingly killed.
But as the title says, You Only Live Twice, and it was Bond faking his own death, and was then sent on a mission to uncover a global conspiracy that a nuclear war was about to start after US and USSR spacecrafts went missing.
The film offers some iconic Connery moments, no more so than the giant magnet helicopter scene. Bond is met by Aki a female Japanese secret service, who saves his life and gets into her Toyota 2000GT convertible.
They’re chased in a classic and advanced car chase production by 4 henchmen. Aki radios through for help asking for the ‘usual reception’. A helicopter then came to hers and Bond’s aid and lifted the black Dodge Polara 4 door sedan, allowing the two to escape.
You Only Live Twice was arguably most notable for Sean Connery’s reaction while filming it. While shooting the movie, the 007 actor became bored with the role, as he thought it was much of the same and with no character development.
Connery had become a household name around the world now and was frustrated with the attention he was getting and even fell out with Bond producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Connery asked for $1 million with a percentage of the next film’s gross.
Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever
After a 4 year and 1 Bond movie sabbatical, and a commercial flop for George Lazeby’s role os 007, Sean Connery was back to play Bond in the first Bond movie of the 1970s, Diamonds Are Forever.
It hasn’t gone down as Connery’s finest Bond movie, some critics calling his performance as lacklustre and underwhelming. And many say he didn’t want to return, but with a huge $1.25m on offer he couldn’t refuse.
Connery donated that money, a huge amount in 1971, to the Scottish International Education Trust, a charity he founded.
The plot sees Bond (Sean Connery) having dig deep into the unknown activities happening in the diamond market. He finds his arch-nemesis and latest Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld is hoarding precious gems to build a satellite weapon.
With stunning smuggler Tiffany Case in assistance, 007 embarks on an adventure to thwart this maniacal plan and save mankind from its ultimate demise.
One of the most iconic car chase scenes is in Diamonds are Forever as Bond and Tiffany escape in a Mustang Mach 1. An exhilarating car chase ensues in the streets, sidewalks and intersections of Las Vegas.
The chase ends when Bond is forced into crowded parking lot before making an incredible getaway jump off the back of a trailer, and then by putting the Mustang on 2 wheels to get through the tightest of alleyways. It was the last official performance by Sean Connery as the debonair British spy.
Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again
Sean Connery said after filming Diamonds Are Forever that he would never play the role of James Bond again. He was back 11 years later, but in the unofficial Bond movie Never Say Never Again.
The title of the movie was reference to Connery saying he would never play Bond again after hanging up his Walther PK for the second time in 1971.
Connery was 52 when he filmed Never Say Never Again so the producers decided to make Bond a retired secret agent. Ironically, he was three years younger than Roger Moore when he played Bond in Octopussy the same year.
The film was an unofficial remake of Thunderball, and Connery was paid a whopping $3m and a cut of the movie’s royalties.
Connery’s performance in Never Say Never Again was a success as was the box office receipts. But it was outshone by official Bond movie Octopussy which was released the same time. That said, they were both a Box Office hit and it was Bond fans that won the day by having 2 Bond movies at the cinema concurrently.
Life After Bond
Sean Connery is a household name because of his role as the suave and sophisticated British spy, but the Scottish actor has had a successful acting career outside the Bond mission.
After quitting Bond for the official last time in 1971, he kept himself busy working in many movies for the rest of his career. In the 1970s his biggest role was in The Man Who Would Be King, starring alongside long time friend Michael Caine in an adapted take from the eponymous 1888 Rudyard Kipling novella.
It was the 1980s that Sean Connery had the most success outside of his Bond roles, however. He starred in 1986 classic Highlander, a huge Box Office success, and then a year later he won an Academy Award and Golden Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in The Untouchables.
He won 2 BAFTAs for Best Actor in The Name of The Rose (1987), and then in 1990 for his starring role in The Hunt for Red October. He later starred in many other films, including The Avengers in 1998, and 1999’s Entrapment, which he also produced.
In 1998 he received the British Academy Film Fellowship, and then in 2000 he finally received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, calling it one of the ‘proudest moments of my life’ and means we should call him Sir Sean Connery.
After Connery received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, he announced he was retiring from acting. The ‘idiots now making films in Hollywood’ was his reason for his retirement, and although he made a few brief roles, he was never in any big movie again.
On 31 October 2020, Sean Connery died in his sleep, at his home in Nassau, Bahamas. It’s not official, but he had been ill for a while, and it’s believed the reason for his death was pneumonia and cardiopulmonary failure.
Skyfall? Not Quite
Connery almost made another appearance in Skyfall (2012). Skyfall director Sir Sam Mendes considered a cameo appearance for the legenaary Bond actor to return as groundskeeper Kincade. From early on, it was agreed that Connery would come out of retirement to play a part.
Speaking of the possibility Skyfall producer Mendes said, ‘There was a definite discussion about it way, way early on. But I think that’s problematic. Because, to me, it becomes too… it would take you out of the movie.’
‘Connery is Bond, and he’s not going to come back as another character. It’s like, he’s been there. So, it was a very brief flirtation with that thought, but it was never going to happen, because I thought it would distract.’
Close, but not close enough.
Sean Connery – Bond, James Bond
Sean Connery is the original and for many best James Bond. From his opening introduction as ‘Bond, James Bond’ to his comeback in Never Say Never Again, he gave cinema many iconic and historic moments.
Not only was he a legendary actor, but a philanthropist who left an impressive legacy in film and beyond. His career spanned several decades, from the 1950s to his last major movie role in 2003.
He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Untouchables, but of course made his name as James Bond, and the best thing is we can watch him over and over even though the original Bond is no longer with us.
Sean Connery FAQs
When was Sean Connery born?
Sean Connery was born on 25 August 1930 in Edinburgh.
How old was Sean Connery in Dr. No?
In Dr. No, Sean Connery was 31 when recording it and 32 after its release. He was the second youngest Bond.
How tall was Sean Connery?
Sean Connery was 6ft 2in or 188cm, making him the tallest James Bond.
Where is Sean Connery buried?
Sean Connery was cremated so he isn’t buried. His ashes were scattered at the Royal and Ancient golf club in St. Andrews, Scotland where Connery was a member.
What was Sean Connery’s net worth?
Sean Connery’s net worth of about $350 million at the time of his death in 2020.