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For most people, Sean Connery will always be James Bond, but the accomplished actor played many other memorable roles. One of those was the character of John Mason in Michael Bay's sophomore directing effort, The Rock. While Bay may have technically been the man in charge on the set, the director has written about the experience of working with the late Sean Connery, and says the actor was one of the greatest teachers that he's ever had.
Following the loss of Sean Connery over the weekend, Michael Bay has written a brief piece for The Hollywood Reporter where he takes some time to talk about the experience of directing Sean Connery on the set of The Rock. For Bay, it wasn't simply that he got to work with a great actor, but that he also learned a lot from him. Bay explains...
He was a legend. We all have a few teachers in our careers. The ones that imprint something special on your being. Teachers that you haven’t seen in 20 years, but you still remember their wisdom like yesterday. Sean Connery was one of those for me.
Michael Bay says that he was initially quite terrified of working with Sean Connery. The accomplished actor had a reputation for being quite hard on directors, and especially since The Rock was only Bay's second film, he was nervous about working with Connery. However, from Bay's telling, the two got along quite well and Connery seemed to appreciate Bay's directorial decisions. Connery called him "boy" throughout production, but he liked what Bay was doing on the set, and so was willing to do what he could to help the production.
Michael Bay tells a story in the piece about having to meet with Disney executives (the film was produced by Disney subsidiary Hollywood Pictures) to discuss the fact that the movie was behind schedule. Sean Connery showed up to the lunch meeting and used his considerable influence (read: he walked into the room and stood there being Sean Connery) to get the executives to give Bay the additional money he needed to finish the film. As Bay explains it...
He did it because he loved movies. He loved excellence and doing the best he could. His work ethic was bar none, the best I’ve ever experienced.
I feel like we don't talk enough about the fact that The Rock is one of the best action movies ever made. Michael Bay says Sean Connery loved excellence and I feel like this was a movie that certainly had it. Connery is great. Nicolas Cage is great. The action is near-perfect. It's one of those movies that you can just watch anytime and enjoy. It's in the Criterion Collection for crying out loud. Even Criterion knows The Rock is a work of art.
Of all the greats we've lost in 2020, and there have been too many, Sean Connery is the one that hurts the most. An accomplished actor who clearly loved the job he had, but also did not suffer fools while he was doing it. He probably wasn't everybody's best friend, but he made a lot of fans. Michael Bay is one of them. The man will be missed.