Actor Sean Connery, best known as the original James Bond, has died at the age of 90. He passed away in his sleep, surrounded by family, according to Variety.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Connery’s early career was marked with repertory theatre work in and around London and small TV roles, with his first film role in No Road Back coming out in 1957. When he was cast as James Bond for Dr. No, the move was considered controversial owing to Connery’s lack of recognition outside of Britain. But it paid off for producer Albert Broccoli and, ultimately, Connery himself as he established an iconic role which he would play seven times over the course of his career, a number matched only by Roger Moore.
Outside of the James Bond movies, Connery showed a good degree of range and flexibility, despite commercial setbacks on some of his projects. His turn in John Boorman’s Zardoz (a box office bomb at the time) would later become a cult classic performance. A number of period pieces including The Man Who Would Be King (based on the short story by Rudyard Kipling), The Wind And The Lion, The Great Train Robbery (an early Michael Crichton film, based off his novel), and The Name of The Rose (based off the novel by Umberto Eco) showed off Connery’s talents, leading to a BAFTA Best Actor award for the role of William of Baskerville in The Name of The Rose. He would return to period films again (in a slightly offbeat fashion) with his roles as King Agamemnon in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, Juan Sanchez Villalobos Ramierez in Highlander, beat cop Jim Malone in The Untouchables (which earned him his only Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), and Dr. Henry Jones Sr. in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade.
Prior to his retirement in 2005, Connery’s career and his well-established star power let him take on a wide variety of roles, from the winking nod to his James Bond days in The Rock, to the rare villainous role of Sir August De Wynter in The Avengers, to a reclusive author in Finding Forrester. His last major film role was Allen Quartermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Connery was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, with the investiture held in Edinburgh at his request. He is survived by his second wife, artist Micheline Roquebrune, a son, actor Jason Connery, and a grandson. A statement by the family indicates there will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial “to be planned once the virus ends.”