VKN Badass Guys: Sean Connery

Throughout history there have been exceptional men who’ve inspired us by the way they lead their lives and accomplish success. This is VK Nagrani’s Badass Guys Series.

Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland and born to a cleaning woman mother and factory worker, lorry-driving father, Sean Connery certainly made a name for himself. The Greatest Living Scot enjoyed an onscreen film career spanning more than 50 years. Connery used his unique blend of sex appeal, masculinity and charisma to work his way up from playing extras and minor roles in the ‘50s to breaking through as James Bond and several other great roles in the latter half of his career. Yes, Scotland’s Greatest National Treasure was more than just the perfect James Bond, he was, and is, Sean Connery.

Let’s take a look at why VK Nagrani thinks Sean Connery is badass.

1. He Made Wise Decisions

Connery could have been many things, but none would have likely prospered to the level his acting career would. The product of an early maturation, Connery reached his full height of six foot two inches at the age of 18, for which he promptly took up bodybuilding as a hobby. Some reports have him placing third in the 1950 Mr. Universe contest, but others detail him placing third in the Junior’s competition in 1953. Regardless, Connery soon became discouraged by losing to American competitors via their more favorable genetics and reluctance to participate in athletics (which naturally deteriorates muscle mass) beating him out. He would give up on bodybuilding.

Connery also was a promising footballer, and was discovered by then-Manchester United Manager Matt Busby while playing under a trial offer for the Scottish club East Fife. Busby offered Connery a weekly contract following the game and Connery nearly accepted it before declining in favor of the logic that footballers were mostly out of their careers by the age of 30. You could say the decision to stick with acting worked out for the ole chap.

2. He was a “Hard Man”

Connery’s strapping and masculine stature benefited him in being cast for many roles in his career, but the legend of his brute started long before that. According to Robert Sellers’ Sean Connery: A Celebration, Connery had been in Edinburgh in the early ‘50s when he was approached in a billiards hall by the Valdor gang, feared for their merciless nature. Connery prevented them from stealing his jacket but the gang members would follow him later that night to a balcony at Edinburgh’s Palais. Outnumbered against the gang members, Connery allegedly took one by the throat, another by the arm, and crashed their heads against each other. The Valdor gang viewed him with high respect after that, and “hard man” Sean Connery was born.

Another instance involved Connery and his Another Time, Another Place costar Lana Turner’s boyfriend having an altercation on set. Turner’s boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, was involved in the L.A. organized crime scene and happened to be visiting Turner on location when he came up with the assumption that Connery and Turner were having an affair. He confronted Connery on set, pointing a gun at him. What did Connery do? Took the gun out of Stompanato’s hand and knocked him to the ground. Connery admits that he received threats from Stompanato’s boss, Micky Cohen, after the incident.

3. He Was the Best Bond of All-Time

Connery starred as James Bond in seven films, and the first five of the franchise. Unlike other Bond actors, he actually could act well, and had a flourishing film career after his run in the franchise. But oddly enough, Connery almost never got to play Bond in the first place. It was only after James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s girlfriend convinced him he had the sexual charisma to play the role that he withdrew his opinions of Connery as an “overgrown stunt-man.” Connery impressed as Bond so much that Fleming created a half-Swiss, half-Scottish heritage for Bond in the later novels. How’s that for making an impression? The American Film Institute selected Sean Connery’s James Bond as the third greatest hero in cinema history for his role in Dr. No.

4. He Succeeded as An Actor Despite Balding at 21

I’m a firm believer that confidence reigns supreme in men, or anyone, but it’s amazing to me to think that Connery had all the success he did as an actor despite balding at 21. Sure, he wore a toupee in each of the Bond movies, and continued to get cast in roles after, but Hollywood’s a fickle beast, and show business a superficial witch. Connery was able to persevere despite his balding becoming more noticeable as the years went on.

5. The Bond Association Killed His Inner Character

Though the James Bond franchise skyrocketed Connery into a new stratosphere of fame, his constant association with the character personally hurt him. He hated being called James Bond or noticed in public as the character. Connery, like any true talent, believed he was much more than James Bond. And he was. In fact, it was the fear of being pigeonholed and limited in subsequent roles that made Connery hesitate before accepting the role in Dr. No.

6. He Aged Like a Fine Red

Only a select few of us can be viewed as sexy, or the “sexiest man alive” in our lifetime. Connery, on the other hand, was fortunate enough to do so at the age of 59. And if that’s not enough, Connery won Sexiest Man of the Century at age 69! It wasn’t just his looks either, Connery enjoyed much of his acting success in later career roles, such as in The Hunt for Red October, The Rock, Highlander, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Entrapment, The Untouchables – the latter of which earned him an Academy Award.

7. He Wasn’t All About the Money

There’s no doubt Connery made a good living throughout his career, but it was far from the motivating force behind his decisions in the roles he accepted. This is evidenced by Connery turning down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings series, a role that would have earned him up to 15 percent of the worldwide box office revenue from the series. If you were not following at home, that would end up being 400 million dollars. Connery’s reasoning for turning down the role was that he “did not understand the script.” Don’t do anything you’re not fully behind, Sean. To go further, Connery retired from the silver screen citing all the “idiots in Hollywood who were making films” as his motivation.

8. His Legacy Speaks for Itself

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, winner of the American Film Institute’s lifetime achievement award in 2006 and a veteran of the Royal Navy are all quite the accomplishments. Connery got two tattoos while serving in the Royal Navy, one reading “Mum and Dad” – the other reading “Scotland Forever.” No barbed wires wrapped around anchors for this guy, that’s for sure.

9. He Held Odd Jobs

Having odd jobs and doing anything to make ends meet isn’t unheard of for anyone, let alone an aspiring actor. Connery was no different, serving as a lifeguard at a bathhouse, a lorry driver, a coffin polisher, a laborer, an artist’s model, and even a babysitter for the journalist Peter Noble and his wife.

Keep checking the VK Nagrani blog for more editions of our Badass Guys Series.