Yesterday, Sir Sean Connery turned 81 years old. Depending on your perspective, this either feels too young or too old. Personally, I think Connery is going to live forever and will look exactly as he looks now until the sun goes nova. We kinda forgot to talk about Connery yesterday, but here at Tor.com we feel like he’s in the office with us every day. (Spoiler! He is.) In honor of Sir Sean’s contributions not only to our personal sense of well being, here are his five best science fiction/fantasy roles, in no particular order.
5.) James Bond (Dr. No, et. al)
It doesn’t matter if Daniel Craig is cold like Fleming’s version, or if Roger Moore looks more like Bond, Connery is what made Bond important to the entire universe. Why is Bond science fiction? Nearly every Connery film has technology, which didn’t exist at the time, or was not being utilized in the practical active way Bond used it. He’s got jetpack in Thunderball and tangos with a laser in Goldfinger. Blofeld is stealing spaceships in You Only Live Twice. Practically every Bond villain’s scheme involves a science fiction premise. Why is Bond one of Connery’s best roles? Watch above.
4.) Professor Henry Jones (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
The Indiana Jones series might not be science fiction, but when you’ve got people’s faces being melted off by supernatural beings, I’d think it’s fair to call it fantasy. The merits of the individual Indy films seem to be all over the place. Most regard Raiders as the all time best, with Temple being the neglected stepchild of the bunch. (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is apocryphal and should be ignored. An Indy film in which few people call him “Indy.” Problems.) However, even if Raiders is a better piece of pure art, it’s hard to deny that The Last Crusade is the most entertaining movie of the bunch. And I’d say that’s largely thanks to Connery. In fact, I might go so far as to say this is Connery’s best post-Bond film. Best exchange: Ford:” How did you know she was a Nazi?” Connery: “She talks in her shhleep.”
3.) Zed (Zardoz)
Our unabashed love for Zardoz here at Tor.com knows no bounds. There’s no denying Zardoz is a cult film which is considered to be a “bad movie.” If this is true though, it’s the best bad movie of it’s kind. I’ll put it this way: if Barberella is like the Spice Girls, then Zardoz is like Celine Dion. The total earnestness of this movie is what makes it so splendidly entertaining, and without Connery it WOULD be unwatchable. I know some people think he’s subdued in this movie, but I think he played it perfectly. As I’ve said before when he says, “Stay close to me, inside my aura” everything about your day will get better.
2.) Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Highlander)
Here’s another movie that supposedly sucks, when in reality, this movie is amazing! You’ve already got the totally bonkers choice of casting Christopher Lambert as the main character, so why not get someone else in there with a crazy distinctive voice? Enter Connery as Connor Macleod’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, it was a little rough when they brought poor Sir Sean back for Highlander 2, but in the original when he’s running around the beach with Lambert pretending to be an animal, he’s at his best and most Connery. Best line (after slicing at the Kurgan’s throat) “my cut seems to have improved your voishhe…” Also, despite Highlander 2 being pretty awful, watch this sequence above in which Connery gives orders and sits around and drinks and smokes while people make him a suit.
1.) Forester (Finding Forester)
This is a science fiction movie. No character as ridiculous as Forester has ever existed in this dimension. It was like Forester was created by some kind of cross-dimensional space/time rift explosion in which the personalities of Salinger, Hemingway, and Bukowski were all melded into one being. Further, the notion of all of these personalities inhabiting Connery ads a layer of meta-fiction as it’s possible in an alternate universe that Connery was Salinger, Hemingway and Bukowski. Think about it.
Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com. He punches the keys every day.