May 25, 2008

Whatever Happened To: Sean Connery?

All of the anticipation for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got me to wondering: what happened to Indy's dad, Professor Henry Jones?

To get one fact immediately out of the way: it's not a mystery. Sean Connery effectively announced his retirement in a 2005 interview with The Scotsman, explaining he was "fed up with the idiots...the ever-widening gap between people who know how to make movies and the people who green-light the movies." Of course, this was on the heels of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, his last film role and an all-around critical and box office failure, but we'll forget about that for a moment.

The real question is, when did the dashing actor's career start going downhill? I would argue that he peaked in the late 80's - early 90's before nosediving right after The Rock in 1996. After that film (which was more of a career saver for Nicolas Cage than anything else), Sir Connery was in only five more films: The Avengers, Playing By Heart, Entrapment, Finding Forrester, and, of course, the aforementioned LXG. Not the smooth exit we might have expected from the original James Bond.




But aside from six Bond films and a Supporting Actor Oscar win in The Untouchables, could you make a case that Connery really had an impressive film career in the first place? His classic looks and oft-imitated Scottish brogue made him an iconic figure in Hollywood, but he's not regarded as the best actor of his generation or anything, right? In fact, take away his memorable roles in Highlander, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Medicine Man, and Connery doesn't have many post-Bond credits worth mentioning. If it wasn't for 007, he might have just been known as another bodybuilder turned actor. (I'm almost tempted to question the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award he received from the American Film Institute, placing him in the company of some of the most influential Hollywood figures in history).
But he was Bond, and that might have made all the difference. That and the fact that women find him disarmingly attractive, "for an older guy."

Since his retirement Connery, now 78, has remained mostly quiet, persevering through several health problems and campaigning for Scottish independence from the UK, despite his acceptance of the British knighthood in 2000. I can't really put my finger on why, but I'm a little puzzled by the purpose of his official website (not to be confused with www.yourethemannowdog.com). If he's trying to remain relevant he might want to try to cash in on more SNL skits, but I have to say, the website's "Spot the Young Connery" game is kind of fun - for one play.

Doesn't anybody in Hollywood have one last good role for Sean Connery?

20 comments:

  1. It's so weird to think of him as not being so prolific. He's solidly entrenched in the minds of most as a bonafide Movie Star... but you're right. He hasn't done all that much.

    That said, I got a bit teary when I saw his photo on Indy's desk.

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  2. I think Connery has more charisma in his little finger than most people have in their entire ... well, you know ...

    Connery's not the greatest actor, true, but he did have that certain something. I'll always remember his role in The Untouchables, and as Indy's dad, and if you count voice work, he was in something called "sir billi the vet" in 2006.

    Another one of my favorite roles is as Robin Hood opposite Audrey Hepburn.

    He might not have done a slew of great roles, but IMDB lists 90 acting gigs, including TV and one video game voice.

    Thanks, Daniel, for the appreciation.

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  3. Well, I'm no fan of Mr. Connery. I don't hate him. But I sure as hell don't like him - and I will tell you why.

    As a blogger, I try to keep my disdain for famous and prominent figures private. After all, we (as people that don't actually know them) are just responding to a image that has been constructed for public consumption. Often these people bear very little resemblance to what you imagine them to be.

    I could like a lot of these individuals if I met them. By the same token, I may be very disappointed if I were to run across some of my idols.

    So I try not to be swayed too much by gossip or anything remotely like that. If it's real, that's an entirely different matter. But I don't ever want to spread damaging hurtful stories about people for no good reason. That's not what I'm here for.

    Mr. Connery is a decent actor. As Rick said, he has some charisma - and he's certainly not unattractive. Then or now. But he's never done anything for me. On a physical level or a personal level. NADA.

    But I did see a Barbara Walters interview with him that took place in the 80s. (I viewed it later on.) Apparently there had been rumours flying for years that he was not only a complete chauvinist, but that he was also abusive to the women in his life. He was married to the actor Diane Cilento (a gorgeous blonde Brit) and then he later wed a French woman who didn't work in the business. To my knowledge, anyway.

    During the course of this interview, Ms. Walters was clearly trying to manipulate him into saying that he hit women. He knew what she doing and they kept dancing around it. After Ms. Walters made a reference to his current wife, he denied ever striking her and then said heatedly, "Well, she doesn't PROVOKE me!!!" RIGHT...

    So I can attest to the legitimacy of that interview. I can not attest to the accuracy of the other one.

    I dug up an interview from a couple of years later but I'm not convinced the source is accurate. So it could easily be fake. But he claimed to have been taken all wrong. Mr. Connery apparently said that there were worse things than hitting a woman. (OH, REALLY?)

    He claimed that there were certain ways you could destroy a woman's self respect that were far more damaging than hitting her. He said it was unfortunate that that BW interview would likely leave a lasting legacy and that people would hate him for it when he had been badly misinterpreted.

    He talked about being in a car on the Los Angeles freeway during gridlock when he saw an incredibly beautiful woman in the lane beside him. She waited until their vehicles were parallel and then she rolled down her window like she wanted to say something. Well, Mr. Connery always has time for his gorgeous female fans...

    So he rolled his window down too. To his great surprise and indignation, she flipped him off and then immediately rolled her window back up again.

    (GOD, I WISH I'D BEEN THERE WITH A CAMERA... If in fact, it actually happened.)

    Oddly enough, he got on extremely well with CATHERINE ZETA JONES when they did Entrapment. I adore her - and she's certainly no shrinking violet. He even made a point of presenting the Supporting Actress Oscar in 2002 because he wanted to give it to her in case she won. (AND SHE DID...)

    So maybe he's mellowed?

    I still don't like him.

    But those SNL skits ARE hilarious. He should appear in one of them. That would definitely take the cake.

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  4. Nayana, I was a little surprised to see him in Indy 4, even if it was on a desk. It definitely made sense but it just caught me off guard. Incidentally, that's the most screen time he's had in years.

    Thanks, Rick. I know he does have a quite a list of classical TV/stage/Robin Hood-type (which I didn't see) credits. Pretty impressive for someone who didn't grow up an actor. And as Bond - yeah, his charisma is probably unmatched.

    Wow, Miranda. I only found the briefest mention of those rumors when I was looking at this past material, but that's pretty disturbing. Somehow I can't imagine it hurt his career in any way, but maybe it should have? It's a fine line, I guess - like you say, it's hard to know what these people are really like.

    The Bond character is pretty interesting, especially relating to those rumors. As suave and chivalrous as he was, you could very easily call him a chauvinist womanizer as well.

    Will the real Sean Connery please stand up?

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  5. I'd never defend it as a great movie, but I found it ironic that you panned Entrapment as an example of one of Connery's later "bad" films yet praised Medicine Man, which I thought a horrible, horrible movie.

    (I've always found the concept laughable, both in a good and bad way: "I've found the cure for the plague of the 20th century...and now I've lost it!" Unfortunately, it was never meant to be funny in any way.)

    I miss Sean, even in the bad films. For some reason, the terrible LXG even grabs my attention when it pops up for teh 300th time on FX, as does Entrapment. "You're the man now, dog!"

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  6. Haha, yeah Medicine Man might require another viewing. I didn't even think enough people had seen it to remember, but I saw it in the theater and thought it was a fun story. I wonder if I'd think the same after another viewing, especially in light of your insight.

    Entrapment, on the other hand, seems to elude my memory even though I've seen it more than once. It was definitely cool to see the Petronas towers or whatever they were called, and yeah, CZJ, but it otherwise didn't do anything for me. Why that and LXG get so much TV time is a mystery to me. I didn't even mind Finding Forrester - in fact it was a great role for him. I just don't think he was really on his game after '96.

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  7. Mr. Connery died and was re-incarnated as a CGI groundhog. Or a CGI prairie dog. Needless to say, he has a small role in the new film.

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  8. That prairie dog bit really got to you, eh, KB? Hehe, it really was pretty bad. Bordered a little on some of the ridiculous characters in The Phantom Menace.

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  9. Connery was spectacular in ROBIN AND MARIAN and TIME BANDITS and THE WIND & THE LION and THE HILL (1966).

    I wasn't thrilled with his "back hand" comment to Walters but I hope he paid for it in disdain from others.

    I couldn't believe that Spielberg didn't get on his knees and say, "Sir Connery, just one shot of you in the church at the end. That's it. It'll be a fantastic final moment for your film career."

    Seriously, if Connery had shown up at the end, double the box-office.

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  10. Thanks for the insight on his older work, Christian.

    The more I've read about Crusade (including your recent review of Skull), the more I wonder if it really was as good as I remember. And '89 was still during his peak. It's almost like it was enough that he was just in it; Spielberg didn't actually have to do that much with him.

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  11. This is almost totally unrelated, but it came on TV last night yet again and so it's fresh in my mind: I find Rising Sun to be an almost unturnoffable movie. I know it's not the greatest or anything, but it's always really appealed to me, from the team of Snipes (in his prime) and Connery to the neverending stream of character actors onboard (Buscemi, Keitel, that guy from Scrubs, the guy that played Eddie, etc.) to the nudity (sue me).

    Anyway, Connery rocks in it, and I consider it one of his last great roles.

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  12. What I really want to know:

    Why did Henry Jones, Sr. die? Didn't he drink from the Holy Grail?

    Also: LXG is actually a pretty watchable film if you completely forget about Alan Moore's comic book and take it as a pure guilty pleasure. (But that may be more work than it's worth.)

    Finally, why all the groundhog hate? It was just a cute little slapstick scene. Sure, the CGI was terrible (a Henson workshop puppet would have been much better) - but it was kinda funny. Anyway, it made a whole lot more sense than the thing with the monkeys.

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  13. It blows my mind that nobody, NOBODY, has mentioned The Man Who Would Be King, one of the greatest adventure movies ever made! Connery was superb in it (as was his costar Michael Caine) playing off his charisma and sheer nerve to become a god to an African tribe. You've got to see that one.

    I don't believe much said about actors. I've met some really nice ones and some real jerks. Usually, the jerks have worse careers--for obvious and karmic reasons.

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  14. That's completely related, Fletch, especially since it comes before '96. Gosh I don't think I've even seen the whole thing, and even bits of it for years. I'll watch for it on the tube. Speaking of Snipes, I guess I can cross him off my list of "Whatever Happened To" possibilities. He's locked up. End of story.

    Thanks for stopping over, Luke. Good question about Henry, Sr. I guess we're left to assume that he died sometime during the 20 or so (story) years between Crusade and Skull. Pretty anticlimactic, though...unless of course, he's the groundhog as KB suggests...

    You're right, though, the monkeys were inexcusably bad. Where that idea came from is anyone's guess, but it nonetheless fits within the greater ridiculousness of the plot.

    Here's where I admit that despite multiple opportunities on FX, I've not seen LXG from start to finish. I'm going to have to take your word on it being good, but on the other hand, it is this guy's last role. Maybe we owe it to him.

    Aha, Marilyn - young Connery and young Caine!? I'm in. Yes, that is a classic that I have unfortunately missed. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  15. Carolyn M-------------I don't care what you all say about Sean Connery
    He will always Be my # 1 star and he still can put his slippers under my bed, even at his age

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  16. ?!

    Thanks for visiting. Yeah, that's kind of a creepy image you describe...

    Just me?

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  17. Uh...EMPHATICALLY NO, Danny.

    You are far from alone on that one.

    Always strikes me as strange that the most incendiary, controversial, odd, off the wall or downright wacky comments are always posted by the same person universally: anonymous.

    Hell, that anonymous surely does get around.

    Wouldn't you say...?

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  18. LOL, anonymous is definitely a busy bee - here and elsewhere...

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  19. Connery has got it all.

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