Held last Thursday in Los Angeles
AFI TRIBUTE TO SEAN CONNERY IN LOS ANGELES
Sean Connery, honored Thursday by the American Film Institute with the 34th AFI Life Achievement Award at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, did a most unusual thing before the festivities even got started.
That’s right, Connery stopped shortly before the red carpet steps going up to the second level at the Kodak; then he waved at the fans up on the balconies, causing a roar of appreciation and happiness at being recognized. Connery then held his hands up and laughed, as much in appreciation of them as any fan would be of him. Most stars had hurried past, smiling, but also eager to get to their seats. Not Mr. Connery.
The night just got better from there, with tributes by Mike Myers, James Earl Jones, Julia Ormond, Pierce Brosnan, Ian McShane, Sir Howard Stringer, Craig Ferguson, Eddie Izzard, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Andy Garcia, Tippi Hedren and Harrison Ford. There were also filmed tributes by Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Caine, and the new James Bond, Daniel Craig.
Mike Myers began the fun part of the evening with dancing girls in kilts, while he was in a kilt himself. He made many jokes in reference to Austin Powers, his spoof of the James Bond character.
“James Bond was obviously the inspiration for Austin Powers,” he said.
“So, no Austin Powers — no private jet for me!”
Myers got serious too, saying “You were the top, sir, in my house; and not just in my house, but across the world.”
Julia Ormond, who starred with Connery in “First Knight”, had some revelations about him too.
“Sean Connery is klutzy; closer to Clouseau than to 007!” she laughed.
Ormond admitted that Connery continually made her laugh and giggle during the shoot, often just before a scene. Frustrated at not being able to keep a straight face, she turned to him and said, “You’re very sure of yourself, aren’t you??”
“He looked a bit surprised, and said ‘No. Not really.’”
Ian McShane, who had known Connery for 38 years, added, “If you wanted an older brother, that’s what he would be like.”
Clips of Connery’s movies, including all the 007 films, ran throughout the evening, and an extra highlight was Tom Jones singing the song “Thunderball” with several go-go dancers in the background.
Craig Ferguson appeared on stage to say that, growing up as a kid in Scotland, “if you couldn’t do an impersonation of Sean, you were a social outcast!”
Another James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, said that the first technicolor film he had seen was “Goldfinger,” something that stayed with him. He said, “My dreams have come true, in a large part due to you, Sean.”
Harrison Ford came out on stage, looked up, paused, and said, “Dad!” to laughs from the audience (he had played Connery’s son in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”). (And yes, it was revealed on the night that Connery will indeed be returning to star alongside Ford for “Indy 4”)
Working with Connery on the film, Ford related, “Sean said at an early stage, ‘I’m his father, I did it first and I did it better!’”
He told Connery, “You’ve given us the world and taken us around the world.”
Connery, on stage at last to a standing ovation, did a little jig to the music of the bag pipers also on stage, with much applause.
Ford then presented him with the AFI award, to which Connery said he had “no idea this was such a big deal!”
When Sir Howard Stringer had asked Connery to accept the award, Connery related, he had said yes, and then “I began to get a bit nervous when I saw the list of the other names who had been awarded.”
Connery ended the night with another standing ovation, after saying “I’m more than pleased that you liked my work” and “though my feet are tired, my heart is not.”
– Lisa D. Carroll