Sean Connery will be remembered as James Bond of course. He should be. When he appears on screen in Dr. No he has to sell Bond to movie-goers most of whom probably haven’t heard of Bond. He has to be Bond. He succeeded. And even after so many others, he remains my favorite, though Brosnan comes close.
He’ll also be remembered as Harrison Ford’s crotchety father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Agamemnon in Time Bandits, the aging Robin Hood in Robin and Marian and an Arab outlaw (yes, I know) in The Wind and the Lion. And quite a few more. But I don’t think he’ll be remembered enough as an actor who was willing to take risks and go way beyond the manly image that made him a star.Seeing The Offence on stage blew Connery away so much that, despite having walked away from Bond, he agreed to do Diamonds Are Forever in return for Universal financing a 1973 film version (plus a second movie, but that one didn’t happen). He plays a cop who assaults a statutory rapist in custody, almost beating the man to death — not because he’s outraged by the man’s crimes but because he feels the same impulses in himself. It feels off, like a lot of filmed plays (the dialog that works on stage doesn’t seem quite right on the screen), but Connery’s excellent. And a lot of stars of his standing would probably avoid such a role like the plague.
Zardoz (1973) is much more of an action role, with Connery as one of the Brutals, armed killers wreaking havoc in a post-holocaust landscape at the command of their deity, Zardoz. But John Boormn’s movie itself is way, way bizarre and hardly screamed “box office hit” (and it wasn’t, though it has cult status). Nevertheless it intrigued Connery enough he agreed to do it for a percentage of the box office rather than his usual salary, which was way outside Boorman’s budget.
I should also mention A Fine Madness (1966) with Connery as a Greenwich Village free spirited poet — actually the guy is an entitled asshat, but Connery’s performance is good. And again, it’s a radical departure from his Bond image.
Connery also believed he was justified in hitting women to settle arguments. His first wife says he was abusive. His career does not excuse that.
It was still an impressive career.