The King is dead, but long live the King. The JBIFC is extremely sad to report that Sir Sean Connery, the first big-screen James Bond and an all-round icon of cinema, has passed away, aged 90.
The very sad news broke on Saturday, 31st October. There have been many tributes from across the world of film, TV and theatre, and from all parts of the globe. It is no exaggeration to say that Sir Sean, who received a Knighthood in 2000, was one of Britain’s greatest living exports and contributed to a revolution in movie-making.
When Dr. No, the first 007 film, appeared in 1962, cinema audiences had never seen anything quite like it: it combined glamour, action, and humour in a perfect combination, and the catalyst for this was undoubtedly the central presence of Connery, who went on to make 5 more smash-hit EON James Bond films (From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds Are Forever) and one more ‘unofficial’ 007 adventure, Never Say Never Again.
The original Bond producers, Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, when they met him for the first time, quickly recognised Sean’s magnetism and physical qualities, but also his keen intelligence. As Cubby recalled in his memoirs: ‘Connery walked into our office wearing a brown, open-necked shirt and suede shoes, and had a strength and energy about him which I found riveting. Physically, and in his general persona, he was too much of a rough-cut to be a replica of Fleming’s upper-class secret agent. This suited us fine, because were were looking to give our 007 a much broader box-office appeal: a sexual athlete who would look great in Savile Row suits, but with the lean midriff of a character who starts his day with twenty pushups. Everything about Connery that day was convincingly James Bond’.
Cubby and Harry asked him a lot of questions, and his answers were friendly and direct: ‘There was no conceit to him, and no false modesty, either’.
In other comments made by the 007 producers in later interviews, they recalled that they especially liked the way Connery moved, too – rather like a cat. As Saltzman put it, Sean moved ‘extremely well… For a big man to be light on his feet is most unusual’.
The current Bond producers, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, on hearing the news of Sir Sean’s passing, released a statement which said: ‘We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sean Connery. He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words – “The name’s Bond… James Bond” – he revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him’.
Actor Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, added his own tribute when he expressed his sadness at ‘the passing of one of the true greats of cinema’. Daniel added: ‘Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more. He defined an era and style. The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in mega watts; he helped create the modern blockbuster’.
The Oscar-winning actor was Knighted for his services to film, which included setting up the Scottish International Education Trust, a charity which helped nurture and train generations of young Scots who wanted careers in acting, arts and other associated industries.
Sir Sean Connery, 1930-2020. R.I.P.