James Bond: How Sean Connery’s ‘From Russia With Love’ Performance Changed Bond Forever

As the first to play the role, Sean Connery defined James Bond. The Scottish actor scored the role based in part on the way he walked, but his acting chops helped his outings become some of the most iconic Bond movies. Connery’s performance in From Russia With Love was so good that Ian Fleming, the author of the novels that spawned the movie franchise, changed the character to be more like Connery.

Daniela Bianchi, Sean Connery, and Robert Shaw sitting at a table in the film 'From Russia With Love.' Connery's performance in 'From Russia With Love' was so good, James Bond author Ian Fleming changed the character forever.
Daniela Bianchi, Sean Connery, and Robert Shaw in ‘From Russia With Love’ | United Artist/Getty Images

Sean Connery made six James Bond movies and added an unofficial Bond film years later

Producers picked Connery to play Bond after he caught the attention of producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. The way he walked was a plus, but his attire and attitude during an audition came across as unprofessional.

Still, whatever mistakes Connery might have made along the way didn’t cost him the part. He starred in five straight Bond movies in the 1960s: Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967). He also starred in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever and returned in the unofficial Bond movie Never Say Never Again (a Thunderball remake) in 1983.

Connery came to regret playing James Bond, but there’s no question the films changed his career. On the flip side, Connery’s performance in From Russia With Love inspired Fleming to change the character in his Bond novels.

Connery was so good in ‘From Russia With Love’ that Ian Fleming changed Bond’s heritage to mirror Connery’s

Connery didn’t necessarily make the best impression on James Bond producers, and he regretted his James Bond role even though it made him a star. Fleming wasn’t a Connery fan until he saw him in From Russia With Love.

According to Express, Fleming wasn’t pleased to have a working-class Scotsman playing a high-class English spy. The author and actor didn’t meet until filming on Dr. No was well underway, and Fleming insulted Connery’s acting abilities.

Everything changed when Fleming saw Connery’s performance in From Russia With Love. The author was so impressed that he paid homage to Connery by adding Scottish ancestry for James Bond in every subsequent novel he wrote.

Fleming’s switch to adding Scottish heritage remained a staple for years. Skyfall, the third of Daniel Craig’s five Bond movies, climaxes with a shootout at his family’s estate in Scotland.

What was the last Connery film he made before he died? 

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Sean Connery’s James Bond Movies Ranked

Connery left the Bond franchise behind in the early 1970s and retired from the role after 1983’s Never Say Never Again

Some of his career highlights, aside from his James Bond movies, include The Man Who Would Be King, The Name of the Rose, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Rock.

Connery’s final film flew under the radar. He voiced the title character in the 2012 Scottish animated movie Sir Billi. His final on-screen appearance in a feature film came in 2003’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

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