Sean Connery’s shocking comments in 60s: ‘If a woman is a b**ch, a slap is justified’

Dr. No: Sean Connery stars as James Bond in 1962

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Sean Connery has long been synonymous with James Bond, with the late actor the first ever to take on the iconic role. However, Connery reportedly expressed some controversial views on domestic violence first in the 1960s in a bare-all interview with Playboy when he was interviewed on set for 1965’s Thunderball instalment of the film franchise.

Connery was asked how he felt about Bond’s treatment of women – James Bond in the 60s was known for questionable treatment of female characters –  and the actor’s reply sent shockwaves through Hollywood.

He said: “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman … although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you’d hit a man. An open-handed slap is justified.”

“If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it. I think a man has to be slightly advanced, ahead of the woman. But I wouldn’t call myself sadistic.”

Despite the almost immediate backlash from these comments, Connery appeared to stand by his opinion almost two decades later.

In an interview with Barbara Walters in 1987, Connery said “it’s not that bad” when asked if he stood by his statements, but also noted he had never hit his wife, who at that point was painter Micheline Roquebrune.

And in 1993, he was quoted in an interview with Vanity Fair, saying:  “There are women who take it to the wire. That’s what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation. They want a smack.”

In later years, there was some dispute about the Playboy comments, with friends of the actor insisting he had been misquoted.

In 2006, as the Playboy comments resurfaced and Connery was forced to cancel a high-profile event in his home nation amid growing anger, friends said he had told them:  “I don’t believe that any level of abuse of women is ever justified.”

They said the quote was, in fact: “You can do a woman a lot more harm by moral torture than with a slap.”

But Connery’s treatment of women came under scrutiny for more than his controversial comments.

Before he married Roquebrune in 1975, he was married to Australian actress and author Diane Cilento for over a decade.

Cilento claimed Connery had physically and mentally abused her during their time together, documenting their time together in her 2006 autobiography, My Nine Lives.

Connery vehemently denied the claims.

But the controversy sparked an array of debates that continued after his death in 2020, on how his fame overshadowed his transgressions and whether comments made in the 1960s and 1980s should be judged by today’s moral standards.

The Bond actor would live to the ripe age of 90, and died in his sleep in late 2020.

Roquebrune, who remained with Connery until his death, spoke about how dementia had taken its toll on him in his later years.

She told the Mail on Sunday: “It was no life for him.”

“He had dementia and it took its toll on him. He got his final wish to slip away without any fuss.”

She added the actor “was not able to express himself” in the period leading up to his death.

From Russia with Love airs on ITV on Sunday at 4:15pm.

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