Never say never, but Connery ends career

Share this article

IT IS a decision that will horrify his legion of worldwide fans and leave grown women in tears.

Scottish screen legend Sir Sean Connery has almost drawn the curtain on his long and glittering career by revealing it would take a Mafia-style "offer he couldn't refuse" to tempt him to make another film.

At the age of 74, Connery still manages to be Britain's highest-paid actor, commanding up to 10m per movie. But his three-year absence from the industry has prompted questions about whether the Scots star has decided to retire after half a century in Hollywood and 77 films.

Now, Connery has provided the answer. In an interview with a New Zealand newspaper, the actor says he has no time for the "idiots" now making films in Hollywood.

He has also revealed for the first time why he has pulled out of co-operating on an autobiography on his astonishing transformation from Edinburgh milkboy to global icon and the world's "sexiest" actor. Although the book was forecast to be a huge best-seller - earning Connery a fortune in the process - the ghost-writer chosen by the publisher wanted to delve too deeply into his private life.

Connery chose acting as a career in the 1950s after spells as a coffin polisher and male model and is still best known for his portrayal of Ian Fleming's secret agent James Bond.

Although he will never say never, Connery blames the current generation of executives running the big Hollywood studios for his reluctance to step back into Tinseltown.

"I'm fed up with the idiots ... the ever-widening gap between people who know how to make movies and the people who green-light the movies," Connery says.

"I don't say they're all idiots. I'm just saying there's a lot of them that are very good at it [being idiots]. It would almost need a Mafia-like offer I couldn't refuse to do another movie."

That Connery is more likely now to be seen on a golf course than in a film studio has distressed his army of fans. He is an acting phenomenon whose good looks and physique charmed a generation of film fans while in his 30s. His seven portrayals of 007 made him the man most other men wanted to be and the man most women wanted to be with.

But even now he is still in huge demand despite his advancing years, with many film roles such as Indiana Jones's father, written to exploit his maturity. Director Steven Spielberg paid tribute to Connery's status when he said: "There are only seven genuine movie stars in the world today, and Sean is one of them."

But Connery says in the interview that is only because he demands so much money. He was the first $1m actor with the Bond film Diamonds are Forever, submarine thriller The Hunt for Red October increased his earning power and he was paid 10m for his last film The Extraordinary League of Gentlemen, in which he played an ageing adventurer.

This year, he was rumoured to have been paid $1m just to do the voiceover for a new computer game, based on another Bond hit, From Russia With Love.

Connery believes his superstar status in the eyes of directors such as Spielberg only reflects his ability to command huge fees. "Well, that's only because of your price," he said. "And my current price? Well, ha, that's nobody's business but mine."

Sometimes not even the lure of a huge cheque has been enough to tempt him back into the movie-making business. Connery reveals he has no regrets about turning down a role in one of the biggest money-earning film series ever - as Gandalf the wizard in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Not because the pay on offer was too low, however. "Yeah, well, I never understood it," he said. "I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don't understand it."

Since putting his career on hold, Connery has spent much of the past two years planning his autobiography, for which he was expected to earn more than 3m. Covering his early life in Scotland, his Hollywood career and his later involvement in Scottish nationalist politics, the book was expected to be a big-seller, and earn huge sums for both the actor and ghost-writer.

Connery says: "I said I never would [do an autobiography] and then I thought about it and I said, 'I'm going to do it.' Then I started."

He admits the six-figure advance from publisher Harper-Collins played a part in his decision - one he was soon regretting however.

"Yeah, and it cost me a stonking amount of money not to do it - because I'd already put the wheels in motion," he says.

Initially, the book was to have been written with friend and fellow Scot Meg Henderson but the deal collapsed for undisclosed reasons. Distinguished biographer Hunter Davies, whose ghost-written autobiography of troubled footballer Paul Gascoigne was published to acclaim, was then brought in.

But Connery says he got cold feet, and handed the advance back once he realised that Davies wanted to do a probing "warts-and-all" book instead of a hagiography.

Davies' book on Gazza exposed the scale of his binge drinking and his personality disorders. Davies was insisting on probing accusations that Connery hit his first wife, actress Diane Cilento, a claim which he denies.

Connery caused an uproar in a 1987 interview with US chat show hostess Barbara Walters in which he said it was OK to hit women if they deserved it or needed it to keep them in line. He had made similar remarks in a 1965 interview with Playboy magazine.

Connery says: "He [Davies] started to run with the ball with all this stuff.

"I realised I was going to be spending the best part of my life, and probably the rest of my life, trying to correct these inaccuracies and I can't be bothered."