How to act 007— Sean Connery
“My name is Bond— James Bond,” Sean Connery informed the world?s moviegoers in 1962. In seven Bond films over a span of 21 years, the tall, dark Scot came to embody the suave secret agent whose code name was known around the globe: 007.
But it didn?t go very smooth to be a successful star. The exception was Robert Henderson, a 47-year-old Yank who direction South Pacific
One day, Henderson had a long talk with the muscle man whose determination seemed irrepressible. Connery told Henderson he hoped to become a professional soccer player.
“Well look,” said Henderson. “With soccer, at 28 or 30, it? all over. Then what do you do? Wouldn?t you rather be an actor?” “How?” asked Connery, “I left school at 13.”
Henderson nodded. “You?ve practically no education. But you have an imagination and a mind. I will give you a list of ten books that you should read.”
The “ten” books that Henderson mentioned were more like 200, including the complete works of Shakespeare, Thomas Wolfe and Oscar Wilde. But Connery tackled them—every day, applying all the energy and tenacity he got from his parents. He would go to the library and stay there till curtain time.
Late at night, he would sit up with his tape recorder, hearing a voice that certainly wasn?t Polish and was sounding little less Scottish. Acting, he decided after a year of this, was going to his career. And for his new life, Connery had chosen a new name.
In 1957, the BBC produced Rod Serling?s play Requiem for a heavyweight. The down-and-out prize fighter, Mountain McClintock, was played by a young actor who head boxed in the Royal Navy. His name—Sean Connery.
The same year, Connery was cast in a production of Anna Christie. The title role was played by ash blond Diane Celento. She was to become Connery?s wife a few years later.
By then Connery had appeared in five forgettable films—but in one of them, he caught the eye of Walt Disney, who brought him to the United States in 1958. Disney cast him as Michael McBride, the love interest in a story about leprechauns called Darby O?Gil and the little people. In the film?s climax, McBride has a rousing fistfight with the village bully.
Among those who took note of Connery?s screen presence in Darby was producer Harry Saltzman who, with co-producer Albert R. “Cubby” Rroccoli, was easting a film of their won based on Dr. No, the 1958 novel by Ian Fleming.
Connery was called to the producer?s London office for an interview. “We watcher him bound across the street like Superman,” said Saltzman later. “We knew we had our Bond.”
But Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, had casting approval and was harder to persuade. “He?d have loved to have had Cary Grant in the role, but there wasn?t enough money for that,” says Connery. “So he was obliged to agree that I would do it.”
Play it Connery did, and splendidly—five times in all in the 60s, from Dr. No, from Russia with love, Gold finger and Thunder ball to You only Live Twice. His debonair charm and magnetic good looks on screen captivated audiences around the globe. Small boys from Chicago to Rome could tell you exactly what 007 said when Gold Finger threatened him with a laser:
“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”
But 007 did not die. The Bond pictures? success permitted Connery to move his wife, their son, Jason, and his stepdaughter into a town house overlooking London?s Acton Park. He was also able to buy his parents a more comfortable home and persuade his father to retire. He also set up Scottish International Educational Trust with $ 1 million, to help underprivileged Scots go to college.