The Scottish actor was best known for his portrayal of James Bond, being the first to bring the role to the big screen and appearing in seven of the spy thrillers.
Sir Sean died peacefully in his sleep in the Bahamas, having been “unwell for some time”, his son said.
His acting career spanned seven decades and he won an Oscar in 1988 for his role in The Untouchables. Sir Sean’s other films included The Hunt for Red October, Highlander, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.
“Bond, James Bond” was the character’s familiar self-introduction, and to legions of fans who have watched a parade of actors play the role — otherwise known as Agent 007 on Her Majesty’s Secret Service — none uttered the words or played the part as magnetically or as indelibly as Mr. Connery.
Tall, dark and dashing, he embodied the novelist Ian Fleming’s suave and resourceful secret agent in the first five Bond films and seven over all, vanquishing diabolical villains and voluptuous women alike beginning with “Dr. No” in 1962.
As a more violent, moody and dangerous man than the James Bond in Fleming’s books, Mr. Connery was the top box-office star in both Britain and the United States in 1965 after the success of “From Russia With Love” (1963), “Goldfinger” (1964) and “Thunderball” (1965). But he grew tired of playing Bond after the fifth film in the series, “You Only Live Twice” (1967), and was replaced by George Lazenby, a little-known Australian actor and model, in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969).
Mr. Connery was lured back for one more Bond movie, “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), only by the offer of $1 million as an advance against 12 percent of the movie’s gross revenues. Roger Moore took over for “Live and Let Die” (1973) and continued to play the part for another 12 years. George Lazenby’s career never took off. James Bond has been played by Daniel Craig since 2006.
Mr. Connery would revisit the character one more time a decade later, in the elegiac “Never Say Never Again” (1983), in which he wittily played a rueful Bond feeling the anxieties of middle age. But he had made clear long before then that he was not going to let himself be typecast.
He searched out roles that allowed him to stretch as an actor even during his Bond years, among them as a widower obsessed with a woman who is a compulsive thief in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964) and as a raging, amoral poet in the satire “A Fine Madness” (1966). His first post-Bond performance was as a burned-out London police detective who beats a suspect to death in “The Offence” (1972), the third of five movies he made for the celebrated director Sidney Lumet. The others were “The Hill” in 1965, “The Anderson Tapes” in 1971, “Murder on the Orient Express” in 1974 and “Family Business” in 1989.
“Nonprofessionals just didn’t realize what superb high-comedy acting that Bond role was,” Mr. Lumet once said. “It was like what they used to say about Cary Grant. ‘Oh,’ they’d say, ‘he’s just got charm.’ Well, first of all, charm is actually not all that easy a quality to come by. And what they overlooked in both Cary Grant and Sean was their enormous skill.”
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