He began his theatrical career as an extra in the chorus, playing bit parts, and modeling. From those modest beginnings, he has become an international film icon. Many believe that his talent and appeal continue to improve with time. His humble beginnings, growing up in a working class neighborhood in Edinburgh, gave no indication of the achievements that were destined to come. Sean was born into a working class family in August of 1930. The oldest of two boys, he spent much of his youth working at menial jobs, just to get by. He left school at an early age and went to work fulltime.
At sixteen, he enlisted in the Royal Navy. Like many young men in the Navy, he opted for a tattoo. However, unlike many tattoos, his were not frivolous – his tattoos reflect two of his lifelong commitments: his family and Scotland. After six decades, his tattoos still reflect those two ideas: One tattoo is a tribute to his parents and reads “Mum and Dad” and the other is self explanatory, “Scotland Forever”.
After three years of Naval service, a long bout with a stomach ulcer shortened his “naval career”. He returned to Edinburgh and seemed to settle into a life of hard work: bricklayer, lifeguard, and coffin polisher. Sean spent much of his free time bodybuilding, a pastime that eventually started his acting career. His hobby of bodybuilding culminated in a bid for the 1950 Mr. Universe title where he placed third.
From his early acting days until his first superstar role, Sean’s stardom was certainly not an over-night success story. From his first work in modeling, bit theatrical parts, and chorus appearances, it was almost eight years before he was cast opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place (1958). It would be another four years before he first uttered those unforgettable words,”Bond, James Bond“
Connery skyrocketed to international fame as the suave, confident (and many say definitive) Secret Agent 007 in six of Ian Fleming‘s Bond movies over the next decade: Dr. No (1962), Goldfinger (1964), From Russia, With Love (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967), and Diamonds are Forever (1971).
He then broadened his career with an Agatha Christie whodunit, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), John Huston‘s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling‘s adventure, The Man Who Would Be King (1975), the medieval romance, Robin and Marian (1976), and Peter Hyams‘ sci-fi film, Outland (1981). He resurfaced as a much wiser and more mature Bond in the 1983 adventure, Never Say Never Again.
The 90’s brought such great films as The Hunt for Red October (1990, as a Russian sub commander); and 1993’s Rising Sun (as an expert in all things Japanese); Dragonheart (1996); and the successful contemporary action dramas Just Cause (1995); and The Rock (1996). In 1999, Connery starred in and produced (Fountainbridge Films) Entrapment, a love story-thriller, costarring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Many critics and fans alike have said that the quality of his acting has only improved with age. Certainly his personal appeal has. In 1989, at almost 60 years of age he was voted People Magazine‘s “Sexiest Man Alive”. When advised of the award, Sean seemed to be unaffected as he replied: “Well there aren’t many sexy dead men, are there.”
We approached a mutual friend of Sir Sean’s and asked if he would be so kind as to forward a package to Sir Sean for consideration. He agreed and we waited nervously. We heard nothing for a few weeks, feeling slightly disappointed until my mobile rang late one Friday evening! It was Sir Sean. At first I thought it was a joke and as he continued to speak the realization set in that it was actually him calling from the Bahamas,” explains Tessa Hartmann, producer.
“He explained that his grandchildren had taken the DVD from him home in the Bahamas back with them to California, without his knowledge, they loved it so much. When word finally got back to him about what had happened, he called us straight away and we met in Scotland several weeks later to present and discuss the project. That was 5 years ago and we have been working together ever since!”
The appeal for Sir Sean wasn’t just the originality of the story and characters that Sascha had created, it was the fact that it was being produced in Scotland. Sir Sean said:
It was important to me there was a Scottish element in terms of production and content. In many ways the landmarks used in Sir Billi, even though imaginary, remind me of my time filming ‘Highlander‘. We did that in the north of Scotland where there are great beaches and spectacular countryside. There’s something for everyone in Sir Billi and I’m certain it’s going to be something special!
Tessa Hartmann said:
It is an honour and indeed privilege to have worked with Sir Sean over these last few years. He is the consummate professional in every way. We are indebted to him for his support, ideas, passion and indeed faith in this production!