Robert De Niro pays tribute to his former co-star Sir Sean Connery
Hollywood actor Robert De Niro paid tribute to Sir Sean Connery saying he hoped the actor would “be with us much longer”.
The Scottish actor died at the age of 90 in his sleep overnight while in Nassau in the Bahamas, where much of Thunderball was filmed.
De Niro and Sir Sean starred in 1987’s The Untouchables together, and it was also the role which earned the Scottish star a best supporting actor Oscar.
In a statement to the PA news agency, De Niro said: “I’m very sorry to hear about Sean’s passing. He seemed much younger than 90; I expected – and hoped – he’d be with us much longer. See you up there, Sean.”
Daniel Craig hailed fellow James Bond actor Sir Sean as “one of the true greats of cinema”, adding he hopes that “wherever he is there’s a golf course”.
Craig, who is due to appear as Bond for the final time in the delayed No Time To Die, shared a tribute via the official Bond Twitter account.
The 52-year-old said: “It is with such sadness that I heard of the passing of one of the true greats of cinema. Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more. He defined an era and a style.
“The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in mega watts; he helped create the modern blockbuster. He will continue to influence actors and film-makers alike for years to come.
“My thoughts are with his family and loved ones. Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course.”
A statement from Sir Sean’s publicist said: “His wife Micheline and his two sons, Jason and Stephane, have confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family.
“There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended.”
His son Jason told the BBC his father died peacefully in his sleep, having been “unwell for some time”.
Jason Connery said his father “had many of his family who could be in the Bahamas around him” when he died.
He said: “We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time.
“A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.”
Sir Sean was the first to bring the role of 007 to the big screen and he appeared in seven of the spy thrillers between 1962 and 1983.
Sir Sean’s five-decade career saw him win an Oscar, two Baftas and three Golden Globes.
His other notable films include Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Highlander and The Hunt For Red October.
He was on a number of occasions voted by fans as the best actor to have played 007 in the long-running franchise, beating Craig and Sir Roger Moore.
He was knighted in the 2000 New Year Honours for services to film drama.
In August, he celebrated his 90th birthday.
Born Thomas Sean Connery in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge area on August 25 1930, the actor left school at an early age and took his first job as a milkman.
At 16 he enlisted in the Royal Navy but was discharged three years later on medical grounds after suffering a stomach ulcer.
His first major step into acting came in 1957 when he secured a role in the British gangster film No Road Back.
However, it was his casting as Ian Fleming’s fictional British secret agent James Bond in 1962’s Dr No that catapulted him to stardom.
Sir Sean was initially reluctant to commit to a film series but filled the role until 1967’s You Only Live Twice, when he quit after becoming tired by the repetitive plots.
He was enticed back after his successor George Lazenby failed to impress fans and critics.
In the 1980s, his career was revived with The Untouchables, where his performance as an Irish policeman won him an Academy Award for best supporting actor.
Sir Sean won a new generation of fans with his compelling performance as the father of Harrison Ford’s hero in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.
From his home in the Bahamas, he remained a fervent supporter of Scottish independence.
In interviews in the run-up to the 2014 referendum, he claimed he might return to live in Scotland if it voted to leave the UK.
Connery was also a keen footballer and played for the Bonnyrigg Rose club as a young man.
Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were among those paying tribute.
They said in a statement: “We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Sean Connery.
“He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words –’The name’s Bond… James Bond’ — he revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent.
“He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Twitter: “I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons.
“Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family and through talent and sheer hard work, became an international film icon and one of the world’s most accomplished actors.
“Sean will be remembered best as James Bond – the classic 007 – but his roles were many and varied. He was a global legend but, first and foremost, a patriotic and proud Scot – his towering presence at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 showed his love for the country of his birth.”
Actor Hugh Jackman tweeted: “I grew up idolizing #SeanConnery. A legend on screen, and off. Rest In Peace.”
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