From Avengers to Zardoz: Remembering Sean Connery in 6 Genre Roles (So Long, Sir Sean Pt 3/4)

Sean Connery, British actor, holding a handgun while wearing thigh-high boots and red costume, with his hair in a pony tail, standing in a snowy landscape in a publicity portrait issued for the film, 'Zardoz', 1974. The science fiction film, directed by John Boorman, starred Connery as 'Zed'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Julien Neaves, Editor

On October 31 legendary actor Sir Thomas Sean Connery passed away at the age of 90. The news hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt like a kindly uncle had died. I had seen so many of his films and followed his career for so long that I just had to do a tribute article. But just one article seemed insufficient for the magnitude of the man, so I will be doing four articles, one for each Saturday in November. For the third article today I will be focusing on six genre performances

I love science fiction and fantasy films and the late, legendary Sean Connery has featured in a few of my favourites. As I continue my tribute series on him I will be looking at six genre roles and tackling them in alphabetical order (of the film, not the role). With a dragon-sized SPOILER ALERT let’s get to it.

#1 Sir August de Winter, The Avengers (1998)

SIR AUGUST INNER MONOLOGUE: Where’s my lovely lass in leather?

No, not that Avengers. This film was based on the 60s secret agent series and as Sir August de Winter Connery plays a rare villain role. And yeah, it doesn’t work. He tries but not even he could do much with the over-the-top, weather-obsessed bad guy. And by the time he starts walking around in a teddy bear suit it was impossible to take him seriously.

But Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman have great chemistry and the film has a campy charm to it. So why include this film when it’s not one of Connery’s better roles? Well, I really wanted to do the “A to Z” headline. But I promise it gets better from here.

#2 Draco, Dragonheart (1996)

You stepped on my tail, you filthy flesh bag!

I am watching this film as I write this article, and other than the CGI showing some age Dragonheart holds up very well. And a big reason for that is Connery’s fantastic voice performance as Draco. He invests the character with a lot of nobility, wit and charm, and truly brings the fantastical creature to life.

As Draco he has wonderful chemistry with Dennis Quaid’s Bowen and their relationship made me laugh out loud many times, and also shed a tear when he died (the first time I saw it, I was okay this time). Draco is easily one of Connery’s best performances and Dragonheart is arguably one of the best fantasy films.

#3 Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, Highlander (1986)

A little off the top?

In part two of this list I mentioned that Connery was not big on doing accents, but he was such a fun actor we just gave him a pass. So in cult fantasy Highlander when he played immortal Egyptian/Spaniard Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez with his regular Scottish accent we just rolled with it.

And Connery was a lot of fun as the mentor to young immortal Duncan MacLeod, and easily gives the best performance in this cheesy but lovable movie. Despite getting killed in the first film he is inexplicably “wished” back to life in the sequel. But Highlander: The Quickening was such a retconning mess that every other entry in the franchise pretended like it did not exist. And for Connery fans you are safer sticking with the much better first film.

#4 Henry Jones Senior, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Are you sure you’re my son? You look nothing like me

Connery is only 12 years Harrison Ford’s senior but the two play a very convincing father and son pair. And it is this relationship that is the heart of this adventure film. Under all the action and wonderful set pieces it is about an estranged father and son reconnecting. Connery and Ford are a riot together and deliver both in the comedic and emotional ones. A superb film and one of my favourite Connery performances.

#5 Alan Quartermain, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (2003)

I’m getting too old to for this sh—

This movie gets a lot of flack and it is probably best known for making Connery go into semi-retirement. And it is nothing like the (far superior) comic book source material. I heard every time someone watches it Alan Moore sheds a tear. #truestory

But I found the movie decent enough. There are some cool characters like vampire Mina Harker and giant Mr Hyde, and Connery is perfectly cast as the weathered adventurer and leader of this motley crew. The pacing does drag significantly in the wearisome second act, but otherwise the movie is serviceable.

#6 Zed, Zardoz (1974)

Show me what you’ve got! I want to see what you’ve got!

For years I had heard about this film and I had seen the image of a young Connery holding a gun and a dressed in that red bondage outfit with matching diaper. But I never got around to watching the film until I had to do so for this article. And boy, Zardoz is weird. Really, really, really weird.

This Sci Fi fantasy is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth in 2293 where society is separated into the savage, mortal “Brutals” living on the devastated surface and the elite, immortal “Eternals” living in the idyllic “Vortex”. Connery plays a clever Brutal named Zed who infiltrates The Vortex via the eponymous giant floating stone head. Now when you start your movie with the floating head of an actor delivering a monologue and also have a giant stone head declaring “The gun is good! The penis is evil!” you know you are in for a very strange time.

The film has many grand ideas but they get confused by an overly complicated narrative and an odd, almost silly tone. Connery spends most of his time reacting to the weird world around him and does not get to shine all that much in the role. But the ladies may want to check it out as he spends much of the movie wearing nothing but that red diaper. And there is also a lot of random female nudity as well which may appeal to the male audience. So yeah, just a very strange film.

So what’s your favourite Connery genre role? For part two of this list and remembering Connery in five dramatic roles you can click here

B0FC059B-BBEE-47CF-90E4-D588C1BACD93 Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.

I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.