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This weekend, the world lost a legendary talent, as Sir Sean Connery’s passing at the age of 90 consigned the great actor to the history books. A major turning point in his career was, of course, being the first silver screen actor to play James Bond, which saw him win the world over in six official outings in the role, as well as one unofficial return in 1983. But to judge his entire output as an actor merely on his most famous role would be absolutely unfair to the man’s total skillset. Which is why we’d like to present 10 roles that prove Sean Connery, no matter how instrumental he was to the 007 franchise’s historical success, will always be remembered for so much more.
Michael McBride - Darby O’Gill And The Little People
Would you believe that not only did a young Sean Connery get to star in the Disney movie Darby O'Gill and the Little People, but he also got to sing as a result of it? Playing the handsome, charming male lead that most Disney romances require, Connery's Michael McBride belted out the tune "Pretty Irish Girl" to the delight of audiences far and wide. A classic bit of whimsy that fans still love to this day, Sean Connery's supporting role in the film helped hammer home the charisma that he'd use quite often in his future career.
Daniel Dravot - The Man Who Would Be King
As an actor, Sean Connery has always been a pretty mythic figure to measure up to. However, in The Man Who Would Be King, Rudyard Kipling's protagonist Daniel Dravot is seen as a god by his fictional subjects. A British officer looking to get into some criminal misdeeds where most wouldn't dare to look, Dravot eventually becomes enamored with the idea of ruling over those who would give him absolute power. Paired with Michael Caine in this classic drama, Connery's devolution and eventual fate are detailed with a chilling skill that makes this a powerful landmark in this actor's career path.
Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez - Highlander
As we’ve seen before, and would definitely see again, Sean Connery wasn’t afraid to wander into more outrageous genre fare. And nothing was more outrageous than that time the very Scottish actor played an Egyptian immortal with a Spanish alter ego in 1986’s sci-fi action hit Highlander. Putting that fun piece of trivia aside, Connery made a whole new generation of fans as the mentor to Chrisopher Lambert’s Connor MacLeod, with his suave wit and action prowess mixing together to make a memorable outing for all.
Jim Malone - The Untouchables
Aside from introducing himself as Ian Fleming’s legendary super spy, there’s another line of dialogue that absolutely put Sean Connery on the map of the movie world: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way!” As street smart cop Jim Malone, Connery slips into action helping Kevin Costner’s Elliot Ness beat Al Capone (Robert De Niro) at his own game. The results were the stuff of legends, as Sean Connery won his first, and only, Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in director Brian De Palma’s iconic mob thriller.
Captain Marko Ramius - The Hunt For Red October
If it wasn’t for Hollywood screenwriting and directing legend John Milius punching up the script for The Hunt for Red October, the Tom Clancy adaptation may not have landed Sean Connery in one of his most memorable roles ever. Playing the mysterious Captain Marko Ramius, commander of a top secret Russian sub that could give his government a crucial Cold War advantage, Connery’s character delivers dialogue that’s absolutely quotable, with a multifaceted character who kept audiences guessing to where his true allegiances lie. Not to mention, Ramius helped cement the legacy of Clancy protagonist Jack Ryan, as The Hunt for Red October turned the young fictional analyst into a cinematic cash cow.
Professor Henry Jones Sr. - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
More than likely, when hearing the news that Sean Connery had passed away this past weekend, movie fans of a certain age first thought of Connery’s turn in the Indiana Jones saga as their strongest memory of his work. It’s hard not to agree with that assessment, as even James Bond fans couldn’t help but admit that Professor Henry Jones Sr.'s adventure with his franchise-establishing son was a highlight in the man’s work. Both silly and serious, Sean Connery engaged in a multi-layered performance that saw him flexing comedy and action muscles while playing a proper on-screen father figure for the ages.
John Patrick Mason - The Rock
Nothing is peak ‘90s action like director Michael Bay’s absolute masterpiece The Rock. A tense thriller that never forgets how charming Nic Cage can be, the ensemble action-drama boasts a lot of killer set pieces and some heavy thematic content. What could make an explosive mile-a-minute thriller that delivers a poignant message about the treatment of military veterans even more enjoyable? How about Sean Connery riffing on his James Bond persona, with more swearing and brutal results? You can make all the comparisons you want between John Mason and James Bond, but there’s a huge difference between those two men; all one has to do is watch for it.
Sir August de Wynter - The Avengers
Yes, even a movie like the 1998 film adaptation of the British TV series The Avengers has earned a place on Sean Connery’s personal walk of fame. As much as some may debate whether it’s a fun and frivolous thrill ride or an absolute waste of celluloid, there’s something that should be common ground for all sides of this argument. Playing the menacing and over-the-top villain Sir August de Wynter, Connery gets to blow the doors off of screen as a perfect Bond villain, whose major plot is to ravage the world with rampant weather he controls. Whether he’s trying to charm Uma Thurman or destroy Ralph Fiennes, Sean Connery makes himself an absolute highlight of this entertaining romp.
Robert “Mac” MacDougal - Entrapment
Director Jon Amiel has a reputation for making absolutely entertaining movies, like The Man Who Knew Too Little and The Core, that, while being totally underrated, attract a pocket of die-hard fans. Amiel’s contribution to the Sean Connery hall of fame is no exception, as Entrapment saw the Scottish actor stealing more than just a bunch of money and antiquities alongside co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. Seeing as 1999 was the year that Pierce Brosnan would play in a similar, but more racy playground in The Thomas Crown Affair, the fact that Entrapment was a smash hit just shows that even with the younger kids in town, Connery still had a way with audiences.
William Forrester - Finding Forrester
Our final entry is another example of just how much dramatic range Sean Connery could pack into a film, Finding Forrester is a rare opportunity to show the more sensitive side of the legendary performer’s persona. As the reclusive author that gives the film its name, Connery’s interplay with Derek Luke puts him in another mentoring role. But instead of merely knowing everything, and coasting by on his charm, William Forrester gives the actor a chance to show a broken man who learns to pick himself up by helping a young man nurture a true aptitude for writing. All this, and a legendary internet meme, make this director Gus Van Sant’s film a hidden gem waiting for rediscovery.
The world will always owe a debt to Sean Connery for turning James Bond into the runaway success story that’s been repeated for ages. However, that doesn’t mean the man’s resume isn’t filled with entertaining and touching films as the ones we’ve highlighted above. So if you’re looking to celebrate Sir Sean’s legacy, and don’t want to stop at just his 007 exploits, here’s a good launching pad to find even more of those legendary performances from his life and times.