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Sean Connery: The Original and Best Bond

Sean Connery is the original Bond and for many people he will always be the best. Connery was born in Edinburgh in 1930 and he worked in various jobs before getting his break in acting. Starting out as a milkman he joined the navy before working as a labourer, lorry driver, coffin polisher, bricklayer, lifeguard, artist’s model and eventually bodybuilder. After the 1950 Mr. Universe competition in which he came third a fellow contestant suggested he audition for a stage show and after getting the part he soon made the transition to television. Connery spent years on various television shows and began to pick up bit parts in movies but his first leading role was opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place released in 1958. More leading parts followed but it was the 1962 release Dr. No which saw him take on the role of James Bond and catapulted him to international fame. Connery played Bond in seven films over a period of 21 years but he almost never got the role in the first place. Director Terence Young wanted Richard Johnson and several other actors including Cary Grant, David Niven, James Mason and Rex Harrison were considered for the role. United Artists rejected Connery and it was only thanks to the persistence of producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli that he got the part. Even Bond’s creator Ian Fleming was unhappy with the choice of Connery and he complained that the character was supposed to be an upper class Englishman. He thought Connery was too gruff and described him as “a Glaswegian truck driver”. However after watching the finished film Fleming changed his mind and he was so impressed with the performance of Connery that he wrote a Scottish ancestry for Bond into later novels giving him a Scottish father. Once Connery had been chosen the director Terence Young schooled him on how to walk, talk and eat as he imagined the refined secret agent would, he even asked Connery to sleep in his finely tailored suit in order to get a feel for the clothes. Connery managed to combine an elegance of movement and action with a believably tough violent side and it was inevitable he would be asked to reprise the role. Dr. No received mixed reviews but financially it was a big hit and production of From Russia With Love began with double the budget and was released in 1963. Connery later said From Russia With Love was his favourite Bond film and many of the critics agreed. It was hugely successful both critically and financially. Goldfinger followed in 1964 and then Thunderball in 1965. After You Only Live Twice which was released in 1967 Connery declared himself fed up of playing Bond and worrying about being typecast he retired from the role. George Lazenby was hired to replace him for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which was released in 1969 and proved to be another critical and financial hit. Lazenby was asked to reprise the role in Diamonds are Forever but he declined and so a new search began. United Artists were keen to have Connery back and they agreed to pay any fee to get him, eventually agreeing to well over $1 million which Connery used to set up the Scottish International Education Trust. The film was released in 1971 and despite mixed reviews it raked in the cash worldwide. This was Connery’s last official appearance as Bond. Twelve years later after Roger Moore had taken over the character Connery agreed to do one final Bond film, Never Say Never Again. It was the first Bond film which wasn’t named after a Fleming book and apparently it came from Connery’s wife who made the remark after he said he would never play Bond again. The film was an unofficial remake of Thunderball and led to a dispute about the rights. The film was a box office success but reviews were mixed and Octopussy was released the same year. It proved to really be the end of the line for Connery this time. Sean Connery has been voted the best Bond in a number of polls and for me he is undoubtedly streets ahead of the competition. While other Bond’s have captured the style or charm of Bond only Connery managed to combine it with the strength and cruelty that the character demands. There can be no doubt Connery remains the original and best.