Sean Connery Made Himself Hard To Ignore On The Untouchables Set

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When we think about Oscar-winning performances, we usually refer to "transformations." Actors go on these press tours talking about how much blood, sweat, and tears went into their work. It's as if many of these people need to prove the part was difficult, arduous, and important to justify being given a golden statue for it. I do think their work is important because art is important. Obviously, I wouldn't have made it my profession to talk about how and why I think it is if I didn't. However, the self-righteousness bothers me.

Acting may be an outlet for creative expression of one's innermost thoughts and feelings, but it is also a profession. I find myself drawn to actors who, from my vantage point, do not seem overly precious about their work. These are the folks who show up, do their work extremely well, and then go have a life off the set. These actors aren't typically the ones spotlighted in the awards race, but they occasionally get their dues. One such actor was Sean Connery, who won his only Academy Award for his performance in Brian De Palma's pulpy gangster film "The Untouchables," based on the 1960s television series of the same name.

Connery plays the gruff Irish-American cop Jimmy Malone who joins Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) in the pursuit to take down Al Capone (Robert De Niro). It's the kind of performance only an established movie star with gravitas can deliver almost without any hallmarks present in a typical Oscar-winning performance. And his comportment during production? He wasn't asking poorly paid production assistants to carry him around or sending weird things in the mail to his cast mates. No, he did his work, and then he wanted to go play golf.

The man loved his golf

Some actors need to remain in-character throughout the whole production, but Sean Connery was ready to hit the links even before the day's shooting was over. Andy Garcia, who starred alongside Connery in "The Untouchables," appeared on The Rich Eisen Show and told a story about how Connery was ready to play gold at a moment's notice:

"We're doing a scene where I'm answering a phone, and he was off-camera because he was supposed to be on the phone, so I had to walk over there to answer the phone. He was dressed in his golf gear, ready to go play golf. You know, sometimes he'd have his — he'd do his close-ups, you know, from here up he was Malone, and from here down he had golf shoes on."

I imagine seeing a man dressed up in his best golfing attire makes for a whiplash-inducing experience when you're meant to be in 1930s Chicago.

Despite being from Scotland, Connery didn't pick up golf until he shot the famous scene in the James Bond film "Goldfinger," where 007 and the titular villain play a tense 18 holes. He couldn't get enough, writing in his autobiography "Being a Scot" with Murray Grigor:

"I began to take lessons on a course near the Pinewood film studios, and was immediately hooked on the game. Soon it would nearly take over my life. I began to see golf as a metaphor for living, for in golf you are basically on your own, competing against yourself and always trying to do better. If you cheat, you will be the loser, because you are cheating yourself."

Over 20 years later, the golf shoes were on before the day even wrapped. That's true love.