Known for his deep Scottish accent and impressive dramatic range, Sean Connery is remembered as one of the best dramatic actors of a generation. This is reflected by his long list of accolades, which includes an Academy Award, two BAFTAs, and three Golden Globes.
Sean Connery might be best known for his role as one of the most familiar faces of James Bond, but he has had a wide-ranging career aside from the franchise. We’ve ranked some of his best and worst roles, according to IMDb (including James Bond).
Updated by Kristy Ambrose on November 30th, 2020: On October 21st, 2020, Sean Connery passed away. He is survived by the many fans that were inspired by his vast body of work that spanned decades. He’s credited with over 90 movie roles and enjoys several more credits as a producer, director, or narrator. A career that long has its share of hits and misses.
15 WORST: Sir Billi (3.5)
It’s a dirty cartoon for kids. Actually, nobody really knows what this is, and sometimes that can help a movie but not in this case. Theories abound as to why Connery not only gave his voice to the main character but helped finance and promote this weird animated film, the main one being it was produced entirely in Scotland.
It’s actually hard to watch because the animation is so ugly, resembling something more like stop-animation than CGI, and, despite it being his final role, even die-hard fans of Sean Connery can skip this one.
14 WORST: The Avengers (3.8)
No, not that Avengers. Long before Marvel took over the world and turned their series of Avengers movies into the biggest financial success of all time, Sean Connery was playing a supporting role in one of the worst movies ever made.
Despite having Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman at its center, the movie was a bomb at the box office and pretty much only saw negative reviews.
13 WORST: Highlander II: The Quickening (4.3)
While the original Highlander film went on to have a cult following, its sequel was unable to make any positive impact. It had an interesting history, which saw its director basically removed from control, and many of the storyline elements of the first film completely transformed.
This included turning the series into sci-fi, instead of the fantasy of the first.
12 WORST: Sword Of The Valiant: The Legend Of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight (4.5)
Just looking at the dreadful title of this horrific fantasy film pretty much cements its reputation. It came after James Bond, meaning Connery’s stature was used as a draw towards the film, which disappointed audiences across the board.
The visuals and score were particularly weak, while the fact that this was director Stephen Weeks’ second attempt at adapting the same story really suggested that he should give up on that particular quest.
11 WORST: A Good Man In Africa (5.0)
A Good Man In Africa pretty much looks and sounds as boring as it is. Sean Connery plays Dr. Alex Murray in a story about an oil reserve owned by a guy preoccupied with his lavish lifestyle to make any sort of decision on what to do with this newfound oil.
Considering Connery was literally James Bond once, this is a huge downgrade.
10 WORST: Meteor (5.0)
Starring alongside Natalie Wood (who drowned just two years later) Sean Connery’s appearance in Meteor was something he’d find difficult to live down.
The problems start with the film’s most basic premise, as it follows the response to the revelation that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth; this was something pretty hard to represent on screen forty years ago.
9 WORST: The Next Man (5.1)
The subject matter of Middle Eastern politics is problematic to start with, but add obviously the low budget and Scottish Sean Connery playing an Arab leader, Khalil Abdul-Muhsen, and we’re on a whole other level of cringe. Those are the main reasons for the low rating, but the film isn’t completely without merit.
The subject matter was eerily prescient, predicting some of the real-life events that preceded the signing of the Israel-Egyptian peace agreement in 1978 at Camp David.
8 BEST: In the Name of the Rose (7.7)
A daring and mostly faithful adaptation of the Umberto Eco novel of the same name, this movie is one of Connery’s most compelling, not only for the character he plays but for the medieval environment in which he lives. A fresh-faced Christian Slater joins him on the screen and both actors recreate a murder mystery that gets tangled with local monastic politics.
William von Baskerville, the main character, is a shameless ripoff of Sherlock Holmes, his keen intellect a crushing challenge to his spiritual superiors, with Slater’s Adso von Melk in the place of Watson. Fascinating, visceral, and deeply tragic in the end, this is one of Sean Connery’s best and most underrated roles.
7 BEST: Goldfinger (7.7)
Often considered the best James Bond film of all time and featuring the best performance of the titular spy, Goldfinger is a cinematic classic. Interestingly, it is the only Bond film that makes it onto our list.
It had a huge budget for the time and received returns that dwarfed even its budget. It was the first of the Bond films to win an Oscar and saw Connery cement Bond’s trademark humor and suaveness into the character.
6 BEST: The Hunt for Red October (7.8)
If you need to make a character likable, then you better cast the role well. Thus Sean Connery plays the Russian traitor and nuclear submarine Captain Marko Ramius, who isn’t only defecting but doing so in his government’s newest and most powerful piece of military hardware. This was the first in what became a franchise of movies adapted from several Tom Clancy novels.
The main character of Jack Ryan was played by Alec Baldwin in this movie, to be replaced by Harrison Ford in later installments. Viewers barely noticed the change because Sean Connery was the biggest presence on this set, making this one of his best roles.
5 BEST: The Man Who Would Be King (7.8)
Adapted from a Rudyard Kipling novella and starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine, it’s hard to see how The Man Who Would Be King could really go wrong in any way. The adventure movie received positive reviews pretty much across the board.
Interestingly, however, while Connery was praised, it was widely considered by critics that it was Caine’s overacting that detracted from the impact of the movie as a whole.
4 BEST: The Longest Day (7.8)
Connery distinguishes himself in a cast that also includes titans like Richard Burton and John Wayne in a movie that chronicles the events of D-Day, the battle in which the Allied forces finally pushed into mainland Europe.
Connery plays Private Flanagan, a plucky Irish soldier who fights on the front line. The film is unique in the sense that it depicts the battle from both the German and Allied points of view, and it shows how the fight was lost as much as how it was won.
3 BEST: The Hill (7.9)
By the time of The Hill, Sean Connery had only recently begun his time playing James Bond. He was a huge figure at the time thanks to his portrayal of the spy–combined with the directorial skill of Sidney Lumet (who finished 12 Angry Men just a few years earlier) The Hill was a huge hit.
The war movie was given positive reviews for its premise and received a multitude of awards.
2 BEST: The Untouchables (7.9)
One of Connery’s greatest ever roles outside of James Bond came in the 1987 crime drama The Untouchables.
Despite performing alongside the likes of Kevin Costner and Robert De Niro, it was Connery who took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Jimmy Malone.
1 BEST: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (8.2)
Connery appears in the third Indiana Jones film (co-written by Star Wars creator George Lucas) as the father of Harrison Ford’s titular character. Despite initially turning down the role due to only being twelve years older than his on-screen son, it went on to become one of his defining roles.
It is rumored that Spielberg envisioned Connery as Jones’ father beforehand, and when Lucas wrote the character into the third film, his casting made perfect sense.
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