Sean Connery left an indelible mark as James Bond. He’s still the gold standard to which all other Bonds are compared, and he had some on-set experience which made him a natural choice. There’s a legendary story of the Dr. No star disarming a gangster while filming another movie.
Bad Graces Of A Gangster
It’s easy to think of Connery’s career as having begun in 1962, but that’s simply not true. The Scotsman already had years of experience in film and onstage. He had a few minor roles as boxers and gangsters before landing a major role in 1958’s Another Time, Another Place.
The Paramount melodrama saw Connery lead opposite Lana Turner. Turner was once one of MGM’s highest-earning stars and had just received an Academy Award nomination for Peyton Place. By 1957, Turner had begun dating mobster Johnny Stompanato, and he did not like Connery.
A Threatening Visit
In September 1957, Stompanato visited the set of Another Time, Another Place in England after he heard stories about Connery supposedly canoodling with Turner. He stormed the set waving a gun around and threatening Connery to keep his distance from Turner. Connery was unphased, as he could hold his own in a fight; he held a black belt in Kyokushin karate.
As the story goes, Connery grabbed Stompanato by the wrist and twisted the gun out of his hand, then knocked him unconscious. Cops seized Stompanato and shipped him back to the United States. Stomapanto would soon be stabbed to death by Turner’s teenage daughter, Cheryl Crane, in what police considered a justifiable homicide. Some associates of Stomapnato apparently blamed Connery for his death not long after the film was released, so he had to lay low for a little bit.
Lives As A Story
The Bond-esque encounter would later be referenced by Kendrick Lamar in his paradigm shift of a verse on “Control.” Lamar raps “B*tch I’ve been jumped before you put a gun on me? B*tch I put one on yours, I’m Sean Connery.” Verses like this show how the story has entered the canon of popular culture.
The story became part of Connery’s persona, but it didn’t help him nab the role of Bond. He landed the role for two big reasons: Cary Grant was too expensive, and Connery had the perfect walk. After Connery’s audition, Dana Brocolli told her husband Cubby, “He moves like a panther.” Rumor has it this is what changed the minds of producers, as well as the author of the James Bond book series, Ian Fleming. Whether they were aware of it or not, Connery’s experience disarming a real-life gangster meant he was perfect for the role of a charming but deadly man.
Though Connery passed away in October of 2020 following a struggle with dementia, he has been immortalized through his iconic role and lives on in the hearts of millions.