It’s well known that Connery was a proud Scot, championing his native land throughout his career and even donating his record-breaking “Diamonds Are Forever” salary to his own Scottish International Educational Trust. He was born Thomas Sean Connery in the country’s capital, Edinburgh in 1930 and grew up in the area known as Fountainbridge. He fondly recalls playing soccer with his friends “in the meadows” and that acting wasn’t really on his mind as a child.
The young Scot always had a strong work ethic. He was employed, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, as a milkman and a butcher’s assistant as early as the age of nine, dropping out of school at 13. He then had a short-lived career in the Royal Navy, making him the only 007 actor to have actually served in the naval force. At that time, acting was still nowhere on Connery’s radar and after being medically discharged from the Navy, he considered becoming a soccer player and fulfilling his childhood ambitions. At 23 he was even offered a contract to play for Manchester United.
But Connery instead began working as a dresser at a local theater. As he remembers it, while on the job during a production of Roger and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific:” “an American actor in the cast, Robert Henderson said ‘would you want to be an actor’ and I seriously had never considered becoming an actor.” Intrigued by Henderson’s suggestion that acting would provide a career well into Connery’s later years, he “went to work with it” and began reading everything from Shakespeare to Proust in order to refine his rough Scottish manner and become able to “look as though [he] could work in a mine and have read Proust.”