Sean Connery told last night how he was "thrilled" that he had reached 80 - and promised that there was life in the old Bond yet. Surrounded by wife Micheline and 15 of his close family at his home in the Bahamas, the 007 legend said he was recently laid low by weeks of health problems but he was on the mend. Speaking exclusively to the Record on the eve of his 80th birthday today, Sir Sean said: "I'm swimming every day and I'm even trying to get the golf swing working again - but that might take a little bit longer.
The following is the interview transcript between Connery and the Daily Record of Glasgow:
"During the summer, I wasn't in pain but I wasn't feeling great.
"I came to the Edinburgh Film Festival in June then, when I left for the south of France, I realised I'd lost a little bit of weight and needed to change my regime.
"I've done that and the last few days have been pretty special with the family here.
"We've eaten non-stop and it has been a great celebration."
It's been an incredible 80 years for a man who rose from humble beginnings as Thomas Sean Connery, in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, to become Scotland's most famous living person.
He's an Oscar-winning actor, a knight of the realm and a Hollywood legend forever remembered as the best James Bond.
But even now, Sir Sean would never think of resting on his laurels. He said: "The knighthood I received was a fantastic honour but it's not something I've ever used and I don't think I ever will."It's incredible to think of the boy growing up in Edinburgh being given one of the highest awards that can be given."No Scots entertainer has reached so many homes and enriched so many people's lives as our greatest acting legend.But it's not just the iconic Bond movies, such as Dr No, Diamonds Are Forever and Thunderball, for which Sir Sean is most loved.His other memorable movies include The Man Who Would Be King, Marnie, A Bridge Too Far, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Time Bandits and The Untouchables (for which he won his best supporting actor Oscar in 1988 as old cop Jim Malone).Much has been made of Sir Sean's retirement from acting.His last film, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, was in 2003. And despite persistent rumours that he may return, he revealed to the Record it is unlikely we will ever see him grace the silver screen again.He said: "I don't think I'll ever act again. I have so many wonderful memories but these days are over."I've done a voiceover for an 85-minute animated film called Sir Billi, which I enjoyed and it will be exciting to see that project finished. Shirley Bassey sings the theme and Ruby Wax was also involved."
Of course, the great man has been around the showbiz block enough to never say never (again).Basking in the sun at his plush Bahamas home, it's incredible to think of his life's journey. As a child back in the 1930s, Thomas, as he was known then, slept in the bottom drawer of the family wardrobe and would only get a proper (sofa) bed when hisbrother Neil arrived eight years later.His mum Effie was a cleaner and his dad Joseph a lorry driver.Sir Sean has always strived hard to improve his life. At the age of nine he got a job delivering milk, working in the evenings as a butcher's assistant.AT 13, he left school to become a full-time milkman, before joining the armed forces aged 16.During his three years in the Navy, he got his famous tattoos "Scotland Forever" and "Mum and Dad", before a duodenal ulcer cut short his military career at 19.He admitted: "I left Scotland when I was 16 because I had no qualifications for anything but the Navy, having left school at 13."Back in Scotland, Sean turned his hand to a range of jobs - a coffin polisher, labourer and a nude artist's model for Edinburgh College of Art.Big Tam, as he was known due to his gangly frame, started bodybuilding and his physique landed him a part as a spear carrier in a 1952 production of The Glorious Years starring Anna Neagle.
He then entered the Mr Universe contest. One of the competitors mentioned that auditions were being held for a production of South Pacific and Sean, as he was now known, landed a small part.His first film role was an uncredited part in the 1955 movie Lilacs In The Spring, a musical drama starring Errol Flynn.It was another three years before he got his first big break, opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place.Roles in films such as Tarzan's Greatest Adventure followed before he hit the big time in 1962 as suave secret agent James Bond in Dr No.Connery became world-famous, starring in six more Bond movies - Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again. His favourite isn't, as most people think, Thunderball.Sir Sean said: "From Russia With Love was my absolute favourite."The story was intriguing and the locations were intriguing. It was an international movie in every sense of the word."Asked which of all his many films he enjoyed most, he said: "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade."I was working with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The teamwork was special. It was a great adventure and Harrison Ford and Denholm Elliot were wonderful actors. I had so much fun."
He also says he enjoyed working with legendary director Sidney Lumet, with whom he made six films.The movie that stumped him completely was Meteor, an early 1970s sci-fi thriller about an asteroid on a collision course with Earth which co-starred Natalie Wood.He laughed: "It's probably top of my worst films list. It just bombed."It had a great director, it had good actors including Karl Malden (star of TV cop show The Streets Of San Francisco) but the special effects were a bit limited."As well as being famous for his acting and his desire for an independent Scotland, Sir Sean is one of our keenest football fans.A regular at Rangers games, he was once a keen footballer himself and played for Bonnyrigg Rose in his younger days and was offered a trial with East Fife.WHILE on tour with South Pacific, Sean played in a football match against a local team that legendary Manchester United manager Matt Busby happened to be scouting.According to reports, Busby offered Sean a contract worth pounds 25 a week immediately after the game.But he realised that at 23, he only had about seven years of top- class football left, while acting could last considerably longer.While he still enjoys a kickabout with grandson Dashiell (by his only son Jason), Sir Sean admitted one of his biggest vices is football on TV.
He speaks at least once a week with close friend and Rangers owner Sir David Murray about the state of the game and believes Scottish football is definitely on the up.Sir Sean said: "There are lots of good young Scots players in the SPL and the English Premier League and they're being given a chance. That's got to help the national team."Seven years ago, he said he would come back to live in Scotland when it is independent. He hasn't lived here for decades and is allowed into the UK for only 90 days a year.But he's still a frequent visitor to his homeland. In June, he unveiled a plaque marking his childhood home in Fountainbridge.When asked if there is anything he misses about Scotland, he said: "The craic."He added: "It's certainly not the rain. There are so many characters in Scotland."