Wednesday, August 25, 2010

007 In Depth: Sean Connery interviews excerpted

Sean Connery is 80 today. Over the years he has given several interviews, but is often rather guarded in them. Here are excerpts from three that I found revealing and interesting. They’re from 1964, 1982 and 1983.
‘He joined the Royal Navy when only 15 “because I had some romantic notion about what it would be like to sail around the world. Actually I never got any farther than the Mediterranean, and then didn’t go ashore,” Sean told me. He still has two reminders of his service: a tattoo on each forearm, one saying “Mum and Dad” and the other, “Scotland Forever”. He had signed up for seven years but was through after three. “I was temperamentally unsuited for the service,” Sean admitted. “I disliked the authority to the extent that I got ulcers and a medical discharge. I considered my three years in the Navy a waste of time and energy!” Connery readily admits that his enormous temper used to get him into trouble. Looking at his powerfully built, 6-foot-2-inch frame and tremendous hands, I could imagine what would happen to the recipient of his anger. “But I don’t lose my temper very often any more, although I still get upset at little things…” Connery’s idea of fun and relaxation is typified by his preference for motorcycles, Levi’s, and black-leather jackets… While Connery enjoys spending money – which is not surprising, considering he has had it only a short time – he refused to comply with such customary Hollywood status symbols as a chauffeured limousine offered him by the studio. “I used to be a truck driver,” he commented. “What would I be doing with a chauffeur?”… Today Sean’s agents demand – and get – $400,000 for his services. Sean’s own independence was evident when he refused to accept the lead in “Marnie” until he had read the script. “Even Cary Grant doesn’t ask to read a Hitchcock script,” he was told. “Well, I’m not Cary Grant,” Connery snapped back. ”If you want me in the movie, send me a script.” They did.’1
‘Connery is still lean and spare, suntanned from the swimming and golfing he puts in at his Marbella home. His hair is greying and he does not disguise the fact that it has long since departed from the top of his head. The toupee which he used in later Bond films will only appear during his return to James Bond in Never Say Never Again, now being filmed… Connery is at present filming in warmer climes. Never Say Never Again, loosely based on Ian Fleming’s Thunderball, has locations in the south of France and the Bahamas. He explains his return to Bond casually as a sudden thought that it would be interesting to take the character up again after 13 years. Another Bond film, Octopussy, with Connery’s successor, Roger Moore, is being completed. “I will be the same Bond as before, but 13 years older,” says Connery. “At 52 I think it is still OK to play him – if I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t do it. We weren’t intending to get into a race with the other Bond, and we will probably be finished some time after them.” … Now that Connery has shown his versatility as a film actor, will he contemplate a return to theatre? He is interested in the thought of directing a play, but not of staying in a run for six months or more. “I have spent too much time as a member of an audience looking at plays to want to go on stage again. After the Bond, where I’ll be motorcycling, swimming underwater, riding and fighting, there’s a film of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I’ll be the Green Knight and there are masses of sword fights. By 1983 I hope I will have some time for a rest.”2
‘Now for a few questions about sex. Connery is known to resent too-direct questions about his personal life, but he doesn’t flinch. First, how did he discover the facts of life? “Oh well, where I was born they were all messing around from the ages of seven and eight onwards in this big tenement building. It was impossible not to discover the facts of life. And there’s a great puritan streak in Scotland which of course immediately intrigued the children – you wanted to know all about what was so terrible.” Can you remember your first experience of a woman? “The decisive encounter was – we used to have air-raid shelters underground because the war was still on, I expect they’re all filled in now – and I was walking along and was followed by an ATS woman and I was what, 14 years old I suppose, just left school. We ended up down in the air-raid shelters. A lot of things started in those shelters. This one was full of water, I remember, with planks and duckboards to walk on…”
What’s good about getting older? “I can’t think of too many things, actually. A Muslim Moroccan friend of my wife’s says the thing to do is to acquire wisdom, that the real pleasure of getting older is to become wiser. I have flashes of what I take to be wisdom, but on the whole I don’t seem to learn a great deal. I went through that phase of the I Ching, Ouspensky’s In Search Of The Miraculous, Gurdjieff, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, you know. At the end of the day, it’s not dissimilar to what’s in the Bible.” Life’s been good to him, on the whole. Has he had to pay a price, has he known any extreme unhappiness? “No, I think the job has given me a chance to play out the fantasies, the kind of stuff which might well otherwise build up inside. When I was young I was very anxious and tense, though. My ulcers started at 16. But acting released this. I never want to go back to that again.”’3


1. Sean Connery – The Private Life of the Amazing “James Bond” by Robert Peel, The News and Tribune, Jefferson City, Missouri, 2 August 1964.
2. Up the mountain without a stuntman by Clare Colvin, The Times, 20 October 1982.
3. Sex, sadism and... shrewdness by Duncan Fallowell, The Times, 16 December 1983.

This is part of 007 In Depth, a series of articles on Ian Fleming and James Bond.


  1. He's led a very interesting life; thanks for posting this, Jeremy. :-)

  2. As much as I would like to read Sean Connery’s Autobiography the fact that he hasn’t written one leaves a certain enigma surrounding him that is quite tantalizing. Perhaps the spell would be broke if we knew too much?

    The fact he lost his virginity at aged 14 in an air raid shelter is an interesting fact. All this talk of youth growing up to quickly in general really should be questioned. 14 is very young.