Who was the fairest of them all? | Daily News

Who was the fairest of them all?

James Bond and Pussy Galore in the Bond film ‘Goldfinger’
James Bond and Pussy Galore in the Bond film ‘Goldfinger’

“The name’s Bond…James Bond”. This popular phrase is inseparable from James Bond. The line was delivered with style by the charismatic actor Sean Connery in the first official Bond movie ‘Dr No’ and was followed suit by his successors in the decades to come.

Sean Connery conveniently secured his position as James Bond in the hearts and minds of the audience worldwide in the 1960s and 70s. However, many are not aware that the James Bond character was first played by an actor called Barry Nelson in an unofficial Bond movie in 1954.

British writer, journalist and naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond originally preferred to cast David Niven or Cary Grant as James Bond, saying Connery looked like an overgrown stuntman. Since ‘Dr No’ was a low budget film and the producers couldn’t afford to cast a popular star in it, they had to create an actor for the role. Thus the star called Sean Connery was born. James Bond made Connery an instant super star. Men wanted to be him and women wanted to be with him. Connery thus defined the hero image of an era.

Connery’s true life is a rags to riches story. Thomas (Sean) Connery’s mother was a cleaning woman and his father was a lorry driver. In his poverty-stricken childhood he wouldn’t have dreamt of being a ladies man on screen who drives an Aston Martin, tastes Martini shaken not stirred and seduces posh women wherever he goes as sexy secret agent, James Bond.

Being a lorry driver himself and a coffin cleaner and later having a stint in Royal Navy, Connery took to acting. ‘Another Time Another Place’ and ‘Ana Karenina’ paved his entry to Hollywood. Before playing James Bond, Connery had extensive experience as an actor on stage, television and in cinema.

Sean Connery vs Roger Moore

After bidding adieu to Bond Connery didn’t get washed up but played diverse roles in cinema. ‘The Hunt for Red October’ and an array of other films showed his versatility in method acting. He won an Oscar in 1987 for his supporting role in ‘The Untouchables’.

Connery’s main contender and rival was the English actor Roger Moore who took the reins from the former to play Bond. Roger Moore made his entrance to the Bond world with ‘Live and Let Die’ (1973) that featured a host of black actors as villains and a black Bond girl. The film was a huge success world over.

After watching Roger Moore’s Bond film, ‘The Moonraker’ (1979), Connery said in a television interview, the film lacked substance and character and heavily depended on gadgets.

Yet the biggest challenge really was with Moore, who had to portray James Bond credibly without imitating Connery. Moore was well groomed over the decades as a versatile actor by playing Simon Templar in ‘The Saint’ television series and teaming up with Tony Curtis in the television series ‘The Persuaders’. Having an Indian origin from his mother’s bloodline and a British accent, Moore catered extremely well to the Asian audiences as James Bond.

‘The Saint' series inculcated credible acting attributes in him and one such thing was exhibiting his trademark raised eyebrow.

Sir Roger Moore once said in an interview that one of his first decisions before taking over the role of James Bond was, not to use Connery's famous phrase "shaken not stirred". Connery would even slap a woman if situation demands, something that Moore wouldn’t do.

Connery quit the James Bond project after ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967) and came back to play Bond in 1983 in ‘Never Say Never Again’ an unofficial Bond movie.

While ‘Never Say Never Again’ was being shot, another Bond film named ‘Octopussy’ produced by Eon Productions was filmed in another location with Roger Moore in it. The main villain in ‘Octopussy’ was an Indian actor who made it to Hollywood - Kabir Bedi. The two films were released in the same year. The media called this, “Battle of the Bonds”.

Sir Sean Connery in an interview after ‘Never Say Never Again’ finally acknowledged Moore’s success as Bond by saying, “Roger took another direction by bringing humour into the character to acquire an entirely different audience”.

Connery was Bond in seven films.

Moore being the third actor in the role too had seven appearances as Bond. Connery will be remembered always as the original James Bond.

Sean Connery and actress Diane Cilento had a son named Jason Connery who acted in the ‘Robin of Sherwood’ television series as Robin Hood.