16 October 2005
CONNERY ON CONNERY I would love to work with dad.
By Steve Hendry

PLAYING a single father for his latest TV role is not a stretch for Jason Connery. It's a part the 42-year-old actor has been playing to perfection with his real-life son Dashiell since the break- up of his marriage to Hollywood actress Mia Sara, three years ago. Jason is determined not to repeat the difficult childhood he endured when his own parents, original James Bond Sir Sean Connery and Australian actress Diane Cilento, separated.

He was packed off to boarding school during their bitter divorce and had a distant relationship with his famous dad. But time has healed the bonds of father and son and Jason hopes they might even work together in the future. Sir Sean announced earlier this year he would not be making any more films because he was "fed up with the idiots" now working in Hollywood. But his son could just be the man to tempt the 74-year-old megastar out of his self-imposed exile.

Jason said: "I would love to direct him but I would never go to him unless I thought it was something he would be really interested in doing"It's not something I'm focusing on but if something came up we could do together, I think it would be fantastic. "There's nothing in the pipeline but one of the things I've learned over the years, as indeed my dad has, is never say never."

Jason's real-life domestic dramas as a single dad are played out in the shadow of the Hollywood hills in Los Angeles, where he now lives. It may be just the setting you would expect to find the son of a star but he is only there for the sake of eight-year-old Dash. He said: "I fought the idea of being in LA for quite a long time. It's different from anywhere else. "You live near the beach and the weather is wonderful but you can't let your son go off and explore on his own. "You drive everywhere so end up being in this bubble. And there are little things, such as not being able to get coffee or tea like you do in Europe. " I decided to live in Hollywood because my ex-wife is here and therefore so is Dash. I have joint custody and I very much wanted to be part of his life. "If I do get to Europe for work, I make sure the deal includes travel arrangements for Dash or a window where I can go home to see him. I make sure we're not apart for more than three weeks."

Jason's hands-on style of parenting can be seen in the new series of BBC fantasy family drama Shoebox Zoo. Jason plays a widower whose daughter Marnie - played by Vivien Endicott Douglas - is involved in a quest for a magical book with the help of a box of wooden animals who come to life. The similarity to his own ups and downs with Dash was one of the reasons Jason was keen to take on the role of Marnie's dad, Ross McBride. He said: "I have a son and I'm divorced and in a funny way, it mirrors my life. "I get up in the morning and make my son breakfast, take him to school, pack his lunch and all those kind of things - that's kind of what I do and who I am in Shoebox Zoo. "The idea of being this father who has lost his wife and is finding his way with being a single parent, I can relate to that. "The difference with Shoebox Zoo is all this magical stuff on top."

Jason, who attended Gordonstoun with Prince Edward as a classmate and started his career on stage in Perth, has a cottage in the Borders which he visits with his son when he can.
The caring dad is determined Dash will not turn into a Hollywood brat. He said: "I take Dash to the cottage every year for Hogmanay or summer holidays. We build campfires, go walking by the river. I just try to show him a very different life. "He goes to baseball training in the States and I turned up early once andsaw all these kids behaving really badly, throwing the bat down and shouting. "I sat him down and told him you don't need to do that, it's disrespectful. When Dash goes to Scotland, he's got good friends there and rides around on his bike with his pals. The ideas of wealth or fame are not relevant. He's a pretty well-balanced kid Dashiell is also of an age where he can watch and enjoy Shoebox Zoo.

The award-winning series, which also features Peter Mullan as wizard Michael Scot and the voices of Rik Mayall, Siobhan Redmond, Alan Cumming and Simon Callow, has been sold to more than 20 countries, including USA, Australia and Canada, where it was filmed. A film version of the show is also in development And for Jason, the real barometer of its success is his son who, despite being the grandson of the world's greatest living Scotsman, proved he could still get starstruck when he visited his dad on set. Jason said: "Every time Dash passed Vivienne, who plays Marnie, he would leave her a cookie without saying anything. It was very sweet. "He loves watching the show. It's a joy to see and very important to me."

Shoebox has topped off a busy year for Jason. In 2005 he has played a gay art gallery owner, an evil vampire, a man abducted by aliens and a cowboy. He is about to take up the lead role of Lightspeed, the new superhero who can run at the speed of light, created by comic book maestro Stan Lee. Jason has also made a couple of short films and is in talks to make a feature length film in Toronto at the end of the year.

But one part he won't be putting himself up for is that of Robin Hood, which the BBC are reviving as a prime- time show for Saturday night. Jason shot to fame when he played the hero of Sherwood Forest in 1986 but he is happy to let pundits' favourites James McAvoy and Robbie Williams fight it out for the chance to pull on the green tights. He said: "For me, it was an amazing experience and something I adored. I wish it every success. "When I did it, the new romantics like Spandau Ballet were about. I had my hair long and looked like a rock star - I see it now and think I could be starring in a Timotei advert. It was very much of its time."

#Series two of Shoebox Zoo can be seen on the CBBC Channel at 6.30pm today. The series will be shown on BBC1 in January

#Born on 11 January 1963 in London, the only child of Sean Connery's stormy marriage to actress, Diane Cilento.

#Connery and Cilento divorced in 1973. She claims she was a victim of domestic abuse but Connery has always denied this

#Jason was sent to private schools, Millfield in England and Gordonstoun in the north east of Scotland where Prince Edward was one of his classmates.

#He auditioned for the Bristol Old Vic Drama School under the assumed name, Jason Joseph. He later worked at Perth Theatre, alongside Andy Gray.

#He shot to fame in 1985, aged 22, in TV hit Robin of Sherwood.

#Jason wed Mia Sara in 1986 in LA. His parents did not attend because "they hate each other". #Jason and Mia divorced in 2003. #He has a role in Superman series Smallville in the US and returned to British TV with Shoebox Zoo last year