In defense of… Sean Connery

I know what you’re thinking: Eric, you charming gypsy prince, why on Earth would Sir Sean need defending? Couldn’t he basically crush any opposition with one swing of his fist, one steeley-eyed glare, or one growling admonition from that iconic voice?
Well, I would say yes, but for some reason, there are still those who seek to tarnish the transcendant experience that is Sean Connery.

Name me one person who is more recognized, beloved, and respected despite a myriad of parodies and black marks. Name me one actor who is better equipped to completely arrest a scene with his simple presence, and yet at the same time play gentle elder statesmen to the youngest and untried of actors. Name me one person who, without even seeing one of his films, is recognized simply by his voice and inflection by those as young as ten years old? Sean Connery is a luminary as far as acting goes, and as far as human beings go, he is truly one of a kind.
Yes, there are accusations of his violence, particularly toward women. Yes, there are accusations of his smoking and drinking. Yes, there are accusations that he’s really not that good of an actor to begin with, instead relying on his intimidating presence and lush voice to carry him in a role.
To this I say… hogwash.
The man is an actor. Let us judge him separately as an actor and as a human being. I do not care what Brad Pitt has for lunch, and I do not care what Sean Connery does to his wife. As long as the CHARACTERS they portray are sound, I can like or dislike the PERSON on a completely separate level. There is a current muddling of the two people in America as of late, spreading to the rest of the world, and it is ridiculous. If I wanted to care about the actors, I would care about the actors. I care about the characters, and how they play them. A boy scout can be a bland character, and a womanizer can be dynamite, and I’m still going to want to see the show with the better ACTOR.
Now, with all that said…
Sean Connery is (or should I say, was, as he is retired) a phenomenal actor. The man made the cinematic character of James Bond, Henry Jones, Sr, and Jim Malone. No one else could do the roles the way he could. For crying out loud, the Scotsman (and a very proud Scotsman with a very proud Scottish accent) portrayed and Egyptian with a Spanish name (Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez in “Highlander”) and we STILL bought it as plausible. Why? Because it was Sean Connery, and when Sean Connery brought a role to the table, he played it in the way that immediately made you stand up, pay attention, and know that this man was, well… inspiring. Hey, when a guy can make THIS look credible…

THAT is what you call sheer charisma.
In short, the man had what so few actors have today in that very charisma. In much the same as I say about William Shatner, I say that Sean Connery is a leftover of a dying breed of actors who are being shunted out of the way by a trend for acting to be “realistic” which basically means that lines are mumbled and people squint a lot. People like Connery brought a noble air to the profession of film acting that helped it become what it is today and finally earn some grudging respect from the snobbish theatre crowd. The current trend of acting, while not limited to the big and small screens, is threatening to ruin experiences at both the theatre AND the theater. Without people like Sean Connery bringing a larger-than-life persona to their work and delivering with such panache, we will sink into the likes of Keanu Reeves and that Twit from Twilight, and soon all arresting, inspiring, and engaging presences will be gone from acting forever.
Please, folks…Connery’s already retired, and Shatner can’t live forever. The men are ACTORS in the truest sense of the word, let’s do their acting legacies proud. Act like you mean it.

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