Sean Connery died at the age of 90. Life goes on, but stars like him don’t come around very often. I will never forget to look Greetings from Russia when it was new – the coolest movie I’ve ever seen. After that, it was difficult for me to accept anyone as Agent 007. Over the years, he eventually lost that alter ego and gave life to many other memorable characters.
I’ve only spoken to the actor a few times, but each meeting was unforgettable. The encounter I will never forget came when I was hired in 1999 to report on his hand and footprint ceremony at the Grauman’s Chinese theater to promote the film Inclusion, what the newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones cost.
As we stood in Grauman’s famous forecourt, I asked what this honor meant to him. He pointed over his shoulder at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and told me that he had stayed there on his first trip to Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Now, decades later, he was here to continue a tradition that goes back even further than his career.
He had vivid memories of his first trip to Movieland. “My expenses were a hundred dollars a week. I was staying at this hotel and found it was about sixteen dollars a day and I had nothing left to eat, drink or a car, so I went to Fox from here. I was stopped by the police once on the way and said, “Where are you going, buddy?” I said, “I’m going.” He said, “Smart, stay where you are.” Once the problem was solved, Fox was right finally to give him a car and be more flexible with his daily rate.
Like every UK actor I’ve ever spoken to, he was blown away by the food available on movie sets and locations. Manufacturing Darby O’Gill and the little people for Walt Disney: “I could never get over this amazing breakfast on the ranch, with the bacon and the eggs and the tomatoes and the toast and all.” After rationing for so many years, “I ate hundreds and sandwiches and hamburgers, hot dogs,” Connery recalled.
He also remembered a time when he tried to hold back his natural Scottish accent. “The way I usually spoke, I wouldn’t have got a job in the theater at the beginning. For me, becoming Ronald Colman English is a mistake because then I’d lose the melody of what I’m saying.”
“When we did the premiere of the film in Ireland, we went to the circuit and I wanted to bet a bit and all of the people who got in line were mostly priests. It was a bit of an eye opener for him. I found him very amusing … funny, funny, [with] great curiosity. “
The last time I spoke to him, he was promoting his latest film and when the interview ended I asked, “Do you still like what you do? Do you still like to play “
“Oh absolutely,” he replied without hesitation. “As long as you keep your appetite. I find it stimulating and interesting and as long as you do you can get better. “
“Are you still interested in getting better?” I asked.
“Yeah, I think that’s really what it’s about, doesn’t it? I mean, why do you do this? It’s convenient, yeah. You get paid well for it, but if it was just about getting paid well you would make other choices to meet.
“You take your work seriously,” I replied.
“Yes, but then life is serious business,” he concluded.