I’ve delved into some serious stuff in my last few posts – fate of humanity and all that. I thought it was time enough for something a little on the lighter side. And today’s the perfect day to do it.
Bet you didn’t know that today was “International Talk Like Sean Connery Day.” In honor of Sir Sean’s 81st birthday, voicemails across the English-speaking world are offering up such bon mots as “Greetingsh. I’m shorry I can’t take your call thish inshtant,” while the man himself probably relaxes at his Bahamas home with a good stiff drink after a round of golf. He’s been out of the limelight since 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the throes of whose making upset the actor so much he decided to pack it in. Interesting story about that movie, was that Connery had turned down roles in both The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings because he didn’t understand them. When the script for League came along he confessed to not understanding it either, but decided to take the part just in case he might miss out on something spectacular. Turns out he should have trusted his earlier instincts.
After an almost 50-year career in show business, it’s not like he had anything left to prove. Coming from a poor background in a suburb of Edinburgh, working jobs like milkman and coffin polisher by day and honing his physique at the gym by night, this lad who his friends called “Big Tam” went in a few short years from one or two-line extra parts in British movies nobody saw to defining masculinity for an era as James Bond – setting a standard that tends to make the toughest of us look like effete pretenders. He had the sense to walk from Bond before it got ridiculous, when he could still manage to carve out a career for himself in different roles, although some of those 70’s movies of his really haven’t aged well (and if you don’t believe me, try sitting through Zardoz.) Artistic recognition came for him with his Oscar for The Untouchables, and he managed to get in a great line in his acceptance speech: “I first appeared here thirty years ago… Patience is a virtue!” Oddly enough it was the period that followed that offered up his most popular movies since the Bond days – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The Rock – each a runaway boxoffice smash with Connery headlining the movie poster.
As the director Nicholas Meyer tells it, there are two kinds of actors in the movies. There are those actors who pretend that they are the people they are playing, and actors who make you think the people they are playing are like them. Someone like Daniel Day-Lewis disappears into his character (does anybody outside his immediate family know what Daniel Day-Lewis is really like?) while Sean Connery is always Sean Connery. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s patently ridiculous that a Soviet submarine captain should speak with a Scottish accent, but we buy it because of the presence of the man. We like spending a few hours with him. As men, he makes us want to stand taller, to puff out our chest and to stare down every challenge with unflappable swagger. The old “men want to be him, women want to be with him” tagline rings true. Go on – put on one of the old Bonds and see if you don’t find yourself walking a little differently after it’s done.
So here’s a good tumbler of Lagavulin to you, Sir Sean… hope your 81st finds you in good health and a few strokes under par. We miss you, but thanksh for all the memoriesh.