Cogill’s Thoughts: Remembering Sean Connery

I was privileged to interview Sean Connery over the years multiple times, but three, in particular, come to mind.

In 1987 after an early afternoon flight to Los Angeles, followed by a studio screening of “The Untouchables,” I moved into a day-long series of interviews with Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith, director Brian De Palma, and eventual Oscar winner, Sean Connery.

I was impressed with the film, the performances, the direction, and the fluid music score by Ennio Morricone, but the highlight was looking Sean Connery directly in the eye and asking him to dig a bit deeper. He did.

“My childhood was very erratic. I was working when I was nine, and it was through the war years, so schools were closed, and I left school at the age of thirteen.”

“When I decided to be an actor, it was an American who inspired me to begin reading in the libraries of Britain. Reading, along with acting, opened up a whole new vista for me, and I wonder what I would have done with my life without it.”

“I probably would have become some kind of sports assistant or something. I probably would have ended up being an Australian football player.”

In 1999, I found myself on a transatlantic flight to Scotland to interview Mr. Connery. After an overnight connection near London, I landed in Edinburgh sleep drunk just in time to attend a screening of “Entrapment,” co-starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The massive vintage movie theater was built entirely out of wood with seating for close to a thousand, yet only ten of us were allowed inside to see an average film featuring two big stars. It was all I could do to stay awake. I will never forget that enormous theater as we sat in the balcony.

The next day I’m the first to interview Sean Connery on camera following lunch. Mr. Connery entered the suite at The Caledonian Hotel dressed casually in a bright green sweater from the Old Course. As we put on our microphones, I noticed his sweater was covered in bread crumbs from a biscuit or croissant. Not just here and there but everywhere and because he was, well, Sean Connery, no-one would tell him.

But, I did, so we spent a few minutes sweeping the crumbs off of Sean Connery before we talked. He was private, gracious, a man of few words, and smiled from ear to ear when I said, “Your sweater is covered in crumbs.”

And finally, on a selfish note, I find myself in Las Vegas in 2003 for a quick overnight interview with Mr. Connery for “The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman,” a big-budget spectacle he served as both star and Producer.

My interview is scheduled for 9 am Saturday, landing in Vegas the night before, quite sleepy, and looking forward to a good night’s rest.

But, this is Vegas, and I’m slightly broke, so I take two crisp one hundred dollar bills and land at a $25 blackjack table. Quick reminder, in Vegas, that amount of money might last you two minutes.

Then, it started, I can’t lose. I win every hand. For twenty minutes, I watch my two hundred dollars climb to over a thousand, then two thousand, three thousand, and decide to cash out at an even four thousand dollars and go to bed. I was proud of myself for walking away.

At the payout window, they counted out 40 one hundred dollar bills and I quickly said, “Can you put that in an envelope please?.” Must have been a movie reference since I had never won that much money in 20 minutes in my life.

I folded the thick envelope over, stuck it in my front pocket, and walked to the elevator nearest my room hoping not to be followed or robbed.

I also noticed I still had two $25 green chips, so I stopped by the nearest table to the elevator and quickly won an extra $800.

I sat in my room, counting out and stacking 48 one hundred dollar bills. I might have thrown them up in the air once or twice on my bed, just like in the movies.

The next morning I walked into the interview suite, said hello to Mr. Connery, and as we sat down to talk about his film, he smiled again and said in the mysterious voice of Sean Connery, “Gary, I heard you were a big winner in Black Jack last night.”

I will never forget that voice.
I must have been followed.

– Gary Cogill

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