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Sir Sean Connery to cut back on Scottish visits

25-Jun-2010 • Actor News

Sir Sean Connery has signalled his intention to scale back visits to his homeland after announcing he will no longer be attending the Edinburgh International Film Festival -- Herald Scotland reports.

Connery, who will be 80 in August, will remain a patron of the festival, as he has done for nearly two decades, but will no longer be seen at the event.

The James Bond star has been closely tied to the annual movie festival for many years, but his age and the strain of travelling from his home in the Bahamas has forced him to scale back his commitments.

His withdrawal from the festival raises the prospect of Connery, who is a long-standing SNP donor and one of Alex Salmond’s closest allies, being seen less in Scotland.

The world-famous Scot attended a special gala screening of his classic movie The Man Who Would Be King at this year’s film festival, and in a small speech to people at the event suggested he would not be attending as much as he used to in the past.

Connery has been retired from acting for seven years, and this week rumours had been circulating that he would be stepping down from his role as the prominent patron of his hometown festival.

However, in a statement last night, the artistic director of the festival, Hannah McGill said although his official position as patron of the festival would not change he would not be attending in person.

She said: “Sir Sean has been a devoted supporter of the festival and will remain a patron and friend, but what he can’t do is continue to travel every year to the festival – we are extremely grateful for his patronage which has lasted nearly 20 years.”

Connery has attended a number of events at this year’s festival, including the opening gala.

He has had health issues in recent years, including a chipped bone after he fell while playing golf, as well as treatments for cancer.

During his visit to Edinburgh last week, Connery returned to the Edinburgh street where he was born to unveil a plaque on a new housing development.

Connery and his wife Micheline toured the Springside housing and business development in Fountainbridge, on the site of the Edinburgh tenement where he grew up.

The former 007 said: “I am really happy and so impressed to see what has come about now.” Gesturing behind him towards the new apartment blocks, he added: “I am absolutely lost walking around there and mesmerised at the transformation. It’s marvellous.”

Connery added: “The Fountainbridge of today is a very different area from that which I remember growing up in, many years ago. Then it was an industrial area which left a significant imprint on my life, as well as on the city of Edinburgh.”

He spent 10 minutes signing autographs for local residents.

Connery takes a keen interest in promoting Scotland in the US, and helped set up Friends of Scotland to showcase connections between the two countries.

In recent years he has made appearances at the Edinburgh Book Festival and attended a number of SNP events.

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