Movies & TV

Sean Connery was a Badass in Real Life, Too

The Scottish superstar was a force of nature on and offscreen.
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Barely two months after celebrating his 90th birthday, Scottish actor Sir Sean Connery passed away peacefully while sleeping in his home in the Bahamas 

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Connery’s career spans several decades, picking up several acting awards including an Oscar, three Golden Globe and two Bafta awards. He won his Academy Award in 1998 for Best Supporting Actor in The Untouchables.

Connery was a bodybuilder early in his career

Photo by YouTube screenshot.
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But it’s his role as the world’s most famous spy that Connery is most famous. He first appeared as James Bond in the 1962 movie Dr. No and has appeared as the British secret agent with a license to kill seven times, with six films by Eon and one movie by Warner Bros. He was knighted by the Queen in 2000 not for his secret service but for his contributions in film drama.  

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According to BBC, Thomas Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh on August 25th 1930, and was the son of a Catholic factory worker whose family had emigrated from Ireland in the 19th Century. At age 13, he did several odd jobs including delivering milk, polishing coffins and as a bricklayer before joining the Royal Navy. He was forced to leave the service after suffering from stomach ulcers.

In real life, Connery was a tough guy and had gained a reputation as someone not to be messed around with. In Edinburgh, six gang members once tried to steal his coat and he single-handedly fended all of the off himself. With his muscular physique he also posed as a model at the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and spent his spare time bodybuilding in the early 1950s. In 1953, he placed third in the Mr. Universe competition in London. An artist named Richard Demarco, who often painted Connery as a student, described him as "too beautiful for words, a virtual Adonis." 

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Sean Connery posed for paintings as a model in the 1950s

Photo by University of Edinburgh

Records in ECA reveal that he signed his modelling contract under the name Thomas Connery, leaving out Sean. The contract can still be viewed in the school archives. This laid the foundation for his role as Britain’s number one super spy in the movies.

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Becoming James Bond 

In the late 1950s, while on the set filming a movie with actress Lana Turner in the film Another Time, Another Place, mobster Johnny Stompanato reportedly pulled a gun out in a fit of rage and jealously after hearing rumors of the two having an affair. Just like 007, Connery grabbed the gun from his hand and overpowered him. 

BBC Entertainment says that when producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman acquired the rights to film Ian Fleming's novels and were looking for an actor to portray James Bond, popular actors like Richard Burton, Cary Grant and Rex Harrison were considered, but it was Broccoli's wife, Dana, who persuaded her husband that Connery had the magnetism and sexual chemistry for the part.

Sean Connery (middle) during a bodybuilding competition event

Photo by YouTube screenshot.
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Connery knew from the start that Bond's creator, Ian Fleming wasn’t fond of him. "I'm looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stuntman," Fleming insisted. Broccoli had his way and Fleming gave in as he quickly changed his mind when he saw him on screen. He even wrote a half-Scottish history for the character in some of his later works. 

Ironically, according to the UK’s Mirror, Connery got into fights with his producer as pressures of the role began getting into Connery’s nerves and the price of stardom was taking its toll. 

"I have always hated that damned James Bond," the Scottish-born actor famously once raged. “I'd like to kill him.” Connery would reportedly often fight with his bosses over pay and deep-rooted privacy fears, making his relationship with the franchise a tumultuous one.

It all started when Dr. No became a success that turned Connery into a worldwide celebrity. Not happy about the sudden interest in his life, the actor began complaining that he wasn't being paid enough to compensate for the loss of privacy and demanded better pay. The feud that would last until just before Broccoli's death in 1996, when things became so bad that they refused to be on set at the same time.

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Sean Connery as James Bond with an Aston Martin DB5

Photo by Luxurylaunches.

After his last stint in 1983 as James Bond, he moved on to other roles which paid off both financially and prestige-wise, garnering him awards along the way. 

Roger Moore, who played Bond after Connery retired from the franchise became lifelong friends with Connery. The Mirror further adds that Moore’s family said, "How infinitely sad to hear the news Sir Sean Connery has passed away. He and Roger were friends for many decades and Roger always maintained Sean was the best ever James Bond." Moore passed away when he was 89 in 2017.

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A few years back, Connery tried to stay away from the limelight and had turned down many lucrative offers, choosing to stay in his home in Bahamas. In 2017, local social media had a frenzy when photos of him appeared walking around New York City on a cane and being assisted by a Filipino caregiver. 

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