Sean Connery

Acting, stardom and national identity

Author: Andrew Spicer

Andrew Spicer’s ground-breaking study provides an authoritative and comprehensive account of the career of this iconic star. He highlights the importance of Connery’s early career, especially his television work that included Shakespeare, before dissecting the ‘Bond phenomenon’, which propelled Connery to international stardom on an unprecedented scale for a British actor but erased his own identity as a commodified serial star. Connery’s twenty-year struggle to escape ‘Bondage’ is discussed at length: his attempts to play against that image in The Hill (1965) and The Offence (1973) and his gradual emergence as an epic, mythic presence in the mid-1970s in The Wind and the Lion, The Man Who Would Be King and Robin and Marian. The study analyses how Connery’s reinvention of himself as a father-mentor enabled him to enjoy a second period of superstardom from The Untouchables (1987) onwards and to ‘age successfully’. How this mythic persona modulated into an all-encompassing ‘screen legend’ is analysed cogently. Spicer also emphasises the significance of Connery’s complex embodiment of national identity, imbuing his screen characters with a working-class Scottishness and through his public role as an activist campaigning for Scottish independence. Throughout, Spicer emphasises the importance of situating stars within their mutable economic and cultural contexts as they struggle for creative control over their careers. Drawing on wide range of archival and other sources, this innovative study’s illumination of one of modern cinema’s greatest, longest-enduring and most distinctive stars will become essential reading for those interested in the phenomenon of stardom.

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