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He was a legend. We all have a few teachers in our careers. The ones that imprint something special on your being. Teachers that you haven’t seen in 20 years, but you still remember their wisdom like yesterday. Sean Connery was one of those for me.
I was young-dumb, doing my second movie, The Rock. I had heard he was notoriously tough on directors. I was terrified when I gave him my first direction: “Uh, Sean can you please do that less charming.” He said, “Sure, boy!” “Boy” was the nickname he gave me.
Sean was notoriously thrifty and practical. I will never forget that first day he was on set, I shot a coin that helps Mason escape. We used a fake quarter from a Hollywood magic shop, triple in size, attached to a rod that I spun in front of the lens. I was laying down on the floor below Sean’s chair, spinning the quarter. I felt so stupid. This man had done 75 movies, and I didn’t think he was going to let me get this silly film school shot. And then I looked up at him. I will never forget the amazing James Bond smile he gave me in approval. He taught me so much about acting and the craft.
One funny story:
The Rock. Car chase: Sean driving and I’m alone filming him. He slams the brakes; my head hits the window. He says, “You OK?” I say, “No, the Disney folks are here to kick my butt for being two days over schedule.” Sean, with that sly look, says, “You want me to help?” Cut to: Having lunch with the Disney execs in a third-grade classroom, sitting at tiny tables and chairs. We looked like giants. I announce that Mr. Connery would like to visit and say hi. Sean comes in, sits down across from the open-mouthed executives.
In classic Sean Connery style, he belts out in his Scottish brogue: “This boy is doing a good job, and you’re living in your Disney Fucking Ivory Tower and we need more fucking money!!” Without missing a beat, they responded. “OK. How much?”
He did it because he loved movies. He loved excellence and doing the best he could. His work ethic was bar none, the best I’ve ever experienced.
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