Funny they said, you only live twice. Sean Connery showed you could have as many lives as you wanted — as James Bond, as a returning James Bond, as a sworn Scotsman, as “the man’s man” in a kilt, as a star who chose his own retirement, and as the world’s most famous secret agent whose suit actors struggled to fill out till two decades later. Even Ian Fleming, who created Bond, gave it a new life — one starting from Scotland — impressed by Connery.
Did the many lives the actor had led till the point he blazed onto the screen in svelte suits and skimpy swimwear, conquering villains and women alike with panther-like grace and a licence to kill, inform the actor he would be? Connery didn’t like to talk about it — either his humble beginnings, or his journey from being a milkman, a Navy man, a labourer and a coffin polisher, to a bodybuilder, leading to a Mr Universe No. 3 finish, and films. However, part of the Connery charm, that would become inseparable from his Bond character, was to not really lead life — that word again — by other people’s rules. When he decided he had had enough of playing 007, across three decades, he moved on to roles with more shades of grey. In an ensemble cast of unmatchables in The Untouchables (1987), he won himself an Oscar.
But even diamonds are not forever, and Connery’s alpha male charm, his love-them-and-leave-them Bond, and its Pussy Galore women, may not have done as well in the #MeToo era. Connery had to spend years accounting for advocating hitting women, though with an “open-handed slap”, in a 1975 interview. He approved, though, of Daniel Craig, whose Bond is more emotional. Craig is up next in his fifth, and overall the 25th, Bond. He has promised No Time To Die is his last. Connery, perhaps agreeing that 90 is a good age to call it a wrap on a life lived well, would perhaps be swirling that Martini and smiling that smile. His last, after all, was propitiously named Never Say Never Again (1983).
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