A month before his 75th birthday in 2005, spurred by his intolerance for "the idiots in Hollywood" and the turmoil he endured making The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sean Connery announced that he was hanging up his license to kill (and thrill) in movie theaters.
The big-screen elite believed him, sort of, except for Spielberg and Lucas who tried to entice him to reprise his role as Indiana's pop in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last year. Connery didn't bite. In a post on the film's website, he explained, "In the end, retirement is just too damned much fun." Not surprising, when he's retiring to a luxurious beach-side estate in the Bahamas, not far from where 007's newest incarnation, Daniel Craig filmed Casino Royale. Lounging for his portrait by his lovely French artist wife, Micheline.
But apparently some still weren't convinced he'd quit for good. So an MTV interviewer who caught up with him at an AFI tribute this October asked again. "Am I retired?" responded the 78-year-old icon, "Oh yes."
So there you have it. We'll have to take the Oscar-winner at his word, for now. And imagining a film future without the accomplished actor naturally leads to nostalgia for the Connery performances of yesterday. Sir Sean's career is the stuff of cinematic legend. Suave super-spy, serenading Irish suitor, noble Highlander, unsinkable submarine captain, untouchable mob fighter, 14th century monk ... in a career that's spanned decades, continents and a lifetime of charismatic characters, he's done it all with his signature style, skill and Scottish brogue. It's no surprise that the AFI gave him a lifetime achievement award, or that he's earned critical acclaim, film fan love and timeless sex-symbol status. Nobody does (or did) 007 better -- or so some Bond-o-philes believe. And no other actor could wield the Japanese tongue like a samurai sword so well, scolding his Rising Sun subordinates into submission. Or breathe lusty life into Kipling's brash god-impersonating Man Who Would Be King.
It seems impossible to single out a favorite film or performance.
What will we miss most, if Sean never again graces the silver screen? The disarming Cheshire-cat-got-the-lady-canary grin? The Shakespearean poise and presence? The accent? What roles will he never play that we'd always hoped to see? Bond all grown up and head of the Secret Service, giving Craig seduction pointers? (Or better yet, an agent in play on one last mission -- so we can hear him utter these words once more: "Bond, James Bond.") A Highlander prequel? A spy musical? (He already proved he could croon in Darby O' Gill.)
But then again, why look at the cinematic glass as a quarter empty rather than three-quarters full? Sean Connery has captivated and entertained us for nearly half a century.
And if you're wondering what the knighted icon has been doing with his free time so far, shake yourself a martini, sit, relax and sink into the pages of Being a Scot, a self-penned autobiography in which Connery dishes on the top and not-so-secret details of his life -- from the Scottish tenements to the land of martinis and Pussy Galore and beyond.