Sir Sean Connery will be forever remembered as the first James Bond, and for many fans the best ever.
The much-loved actor died today at the age of 90, his family confirmed to the BBC.
Tributes immediately flooded in for the film star with many Bond fans sharing their fondest memories of his time with the franchise.
Sir Sean signed up to play the secret agent in the 1960s and starred in original movie Dr Who and in six more after.
His time as 007 propelled him to international fame, made him a sex symbol and earned him millions in the process but Sir Sean did not always look fondly at his time playing Bond.
“I have always hated that damned James Bond,” the Scottish-born actor famously once raged. “I’d like to kill him.”
From fights with his bosses to battles over pay and deep-rooted privacy fears, Connery’s relationship with the franchise was a love-hate one.
When the runaway success of Dr No turned him into a global celebrity, Sir Sean was not happy about the sudden interest in his life.
According to reports, Connery felt he wasn’t being paid enough to compensate for the loss of privacy and demanded more money – only to be met with a flat no.
Things came to a head during the making of You Only Live Twice – his fifth film in five years – when Connery was photographed in the toilet. Outraged, he is said to have asked producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli to up his pay. When Broccoli refused, Connery walked.
It was a feud that would last until just before Broccoli’s death in 1996, with relations between him and Connery said to have been so volatile that they refused to be on set at the same time.
t was a sad turn of affairs between the actor and the producer who had taken a punt on him and convinced author Ian Fleming to give Connery the job.
Fleming made no secret that Connery had not been his first choice.
He imagined Bond to be more refined and initially eyed posher actors such as Cary Grant, prompting Connery to brand him a ‘snob’.
“I never got introduced to Fleming until I was well into the movie but I know he was not happy with me as the choice,” Connery once said.
“What was it he called me, or told somebody? That I was an over-developed stunt man. He never said it to me. When I did eventually meet him he was very interesting, erudite and a snob – a real snob.”
With his reported demands for $1million for a sixth Bond film denied, Connery was replaced by George Lazenby in 1969’s Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but the film was not a hit with fans.
Desperate to lure their original star back for Diamonds Are Forever, execs were given a blank cheque and Connery secured a salary equivalent to £29million plus 12.5 percent of the gross profits.
By that point though, he was so fed up that he generously donated the lot to charity.
“I’d been [messed] about too much on other Bond pictures. There’s so much bulls*** that comes from bad decisions being made at the top,” he told the Guardian.
He added, “Talking to some of these moguls about it is like trying to describe to someone who has never taken exercise what it is like to feel fit when you do exercise. They don’t understand.”
He would also go on to sue Broccoli and MGM-UA Entertainment for £172million in 1980, claiming he was still owed earning based on profits from the spy-movie franchise. The eventual settlement was never made public.
The final nail in the coffin though proved to be Connery’s weariness for the character, who he felt hadn’t changed throughout the films.
During the making of third film, Goldfinger, he described 007 as ‘a dull, prosaic English policeman’ and by 1965 he was ‘fed up to here with the whole Bond bit’.
“It became a terrible pressure, like living in a goldfish bowl… that was part of the reason I wanted to be finished with Bond,” he said.
“Also I had become completely identified with it, and it became very wearing and very boring.”
Despite the past drama, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli shared a very heartfelt statement following the news Sir Sean had died today.
The duo praised Connery for revolutionising the world with his ‘gritty and witty’ portrayal of the secret service agent, acknowledging the franchise may never have taken off if it wasn’t for his star quality.
Wilson and Brocolli shared: “We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words —
“The name’s Bond… James Bond” — he revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.”