Andrew Spicer
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Ageing star, 1984–90
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Chapter 5 explores the cultural politics of the ageing star, analysing why Connery managed that notoriously difficult transition so successfully. Central to his success, the chapter argues, was his development of a coherent new persona, the father-mentor, who embodies wisdom, knowledge, understanding and above all a centred integrity that he imparts to a younger man who becomes his surrogate son. This construction began fortuitously in Highlander (1986) but gained industry traction as the ‘Connery role’ after he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in The Untouchables (1987), whose success also restored him to A-list stardom. The chapter analyses these films in detail along with The Name of the Rose (1986) – his astonishing performance as a mediaeval monk that was a huge success in Europe, demonstrating Connery’s transnational appeal in a role that would have severely challenged an American actor. Close attention is also given to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), in which Connery plays a comic version, and The Hunt for Red October (1990), in which his father-mentor is a magisterial figure. The chapter argues that the father-mentor was a much more capacious construction than Bond, one that offered a variety of acting challenges. The persona enabled Connery to project many of his own values in these roles, which are notable for often being politically progressive, his character at odds with a corrupt and venal society. They are also mythic and thus could accommodate the scale of Connery’s stardom.

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Sean Connery

Acting, stardom and national identity

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