Sean Connery was my movie dad. I only now reckon with his death and the man he was
I grew up not knowing who my father is. Also, I grew up with a pretty seriously overactive imagination. So over the years I’ve had a lot of famous dads, depending on the kind of person I thought was best used at the time: Steve Martin, Dennis Leary, Nick Offerman, Hannibal Lecter. But Sean Connery was the first and most importante proto-father figure, against whom all others would be judged.
mountain dweller appeared when I was five years old, The Untouchables when I was seven, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when I was nine. It might sound too young for just about all of this, but let me remind you that it was the 19th1980s, and children were encouraged to watch all kinds of harmful content that was widely marketed directly to them. (This was the time before they edited guns of HEY!) So I watched these movies, and I loved Sean Connery.
He was already older when I was born. In the movies where he played an idol, where he was James Bond – those movies were old. The version of Sean Connery that I loved seemed to be the most knowledgeable, sophisticated, and dangerous dad you could imagine. My Connery was not not sexy– that just wasn’t the point. What resonated with me was that he always showed up when the leader needed a father – to mountain dweller To The rock, he was there with his Scottish accent (which he played in Irish, English, Russian or Spanish). He always had exactly the skills needed for any crisis, even if that crisis was happening on a submarine, or just, like, needed sword fighting underwater. The point is, Liam Neeson wishes he had the lineup.
The grisly truth is, I’ve been mentally preparing for Connery’s death for years – the way you know the death of your most frustrating and problematic parent is going to hit you the hardest because they make you feel bad. and you love them. In any event. The fact that it’s heavy, unfinished, and messy means you have to tackle it and twist it into a firm shape, something you can hold onto and turn into a story for the rest of your life. It’s work. Celebrity deaths shouldn’t be a job, but it was going to be.
I don’t remember hearing the slap remarks. Somewhere in high school, Heard Sean Connery Said Slapping Women Is Good If They’re A Bitch and that he had beaten his wife. I didn’t hear much else, as it was in the 90s, and we didn’t have the internet.
I would like to tell you that I gasped and ran to my local library to check out the 1965 Playboy where he made these comments and then read all the related scholarly feminist work but didn’t. made. I just added him to the list of things I knew about Sean Connery (basically, he was Scottish) and I became a teenager.
I thought it was deeply cool when he was knighted in 200o.
By 2006, I was busy working on several political campaigns, navigating my youth outside of college, starting a relationship with a man I learned new years had never seen mountain dweller. (Fortunately, I received the fact that mountain dweller had not come in our nine years together like the massive red flag regarding our communication, and that was the first highlight of many in this particular coffin.) The point is, I was at that point where you first try to be an adult, which is exhausting .
Then i saw a headline from the Times of London. âConnery: Hitting a woman is wrong. “
Well, shit. Now I have to concern.
Connery first made his opinion known to Playboy in 1965, and it was not far from what I had heard as a teenager. âI don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with hitting a woman, although I do not recommend doing it the same way you would hitting a man,â he said, adding that a “show of hands” would be “justified if all other alternatives fail and there have been a lot of warnings. The kicker:” If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloodthirsty continually, then I would. . “
Can you hear it in Sean Connery’s voice? It hurts more like that. Connery’s first wife Diane Cilento also escalated the pain, which alleged physical and mental abuse throughout their 11-year marriage.
But wait, it gets worse! Twenty years after the Playboy interview, Connery tried to clarify what he said to Barbara Walters: “I haven’t changed my mind … If you’ve tried everything else – and women are pretty good at it – they can’t do without it,” he said. âThey want the last word and you give them the last word, but they’re not happy with the last word. They want to repeat it and end up in a really provocative situation, so I think that’s absolutely right.
Now we’ve established that Sean Connery’s criteria for getting spanked is … repeatedly trying to say how you feel after he’d like to end the conversation. And I guess he is correct that it is, in fact, a way of preventing a person from speaking.
Six years after Barbara’s session he tried again, this time at Vanity Fair: “But I was really saying that slapping a woman isn’t the crudest thing you can do to her,” Connery explained. âI said that in my book – it’s much more cruel to hurt someone psychologicallyâ¦ to put them in such distress that they really come to hate themselves. Sometimes there are women who pick on the thread. That’s what they’re looking for, the ultimate showdown, they want a smack.
I blinked the widest, most leaden slow blink in the history of women slowly blinking while reading men’s thoughts about women. Why – 13 years after Connery’s third attempt to explain that it’s reasonable to slap women when they do not understand – he felt the need to change the Times of London record, I really don’t know.
But just then he kind of passed out; no new films, fortunately few interviews, and then nothing. I never really had to deal with the ethics of seeing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen II, because there was none.
We do not yet collectively separate the art from the artist; at most we decided not to see New Woody Allen movies, but don’t feel bad about watching Annie hall, so there was not much effect on my ability to profit The Untouchables. I have done it, often. The reality of Sean Connery, the man, was hidden in a neat little box in my brain, separate from the piece of joy his films had always provided me with.
Then 2016 and the cat-grabbing president and the collective howl of rage that followed opened up all the little boxes on our neat little shelves, and everything that we had carefully compartmentalized throughout our lives spilled out everywhere. Watching Sean Connery suddenly stopped being enjoyable. It was just sad – like catching your dad stealing money from a kid. You can’t look at it the same way anymore.
But I knew Connery was approaching 90, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before he died. And when a star of this magnitude disappears, we replay their lives for days on end, as if trying to see what flashed before their eyes in the last moments. I knew I would see endless photos of the man I wished I had been my father, hear that super familiar voice, and see clips of every movie I love. I figured I was going to read all the takes and maybe gift one myself and probably get sucked into the speech vortex and have to publicly deny my previous love and maybe pour a whiskey or 12 and watch a marathon, while feeling guilty all the time. Whatever it was, I knew it would suck.
But Sean Connery passed away in October 2020. And may future generations understand that in October of that year., we were so full to death and danger and toxicity and sludge and men that I just didn’t notice.
Perhaps it was the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg a few weeks earlier, which remains vividly in my memory. I know the time of day, where I was sitting, what I did next (transmogrified into a puddle), whom I spoke to on the night he died.
Maybe it was the fact that I was stressing out for my mother, who is elderly and immunocompromised and lived in a tall Brooklyn apartment building with no exterior access, windows that barely open, tiny elevators, and constant covid cases. . It was perhaps the most important election of our lives just days away, consuming all of our non-covid anxiety bandwidth.
Or mmaybe it was also the fact that he died on Halloween, and Sean Connery never made a movie on Halloween, so the TV news didn’t know what to play.
I really didn’t deal with his death the following April, at the end of the strangest and saddest Oscar “In Memoriam” of all time, where so many deaths had to be acknowledged that it seemed like they had to speed up to get to the commercial break. There was my movie dad Sean Connery, who probably got half a second older than everyone else, and I was just stunned.
I went on the internet and vaguely remembered reading this before, finding out that he had passed away. It’s just … I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to hold back at the time.
I sat in a movie theater for the second time in two years last week, watching the latest James Bond movie. It was like a perfect farewell to a character that’s really fun, but one that we don’t really need anymore. There are honestly too many other great stories to tell to keep repeating this one.
As it turned out, I was not at all interested in Sean Connery’s death by the time this happened. It wasn’t a time to remember his work or even think about what he meant to me and how it warped and curdled as I learned about him. In October 2020, I had neither the time nor the mental energy for this.
A year later, I’m doing a little, but just a little. Bad Men’s currency is now losing value after so many market entries; but comfort is an all time premium. If you look mountain dweller makes me smile, I will not leave dead, alleged wife drummer takes that off. I will continue not to think too much about Sean Conneryâkeep it films but forgetting the man. And this October 31, you’ll find me in theaters watching Halloween kills, imagining that capable, dangerous and competent Jamie Lee Curtis in times of crisis is my father. It looks like a victory.