He gets easily embarrassed, cries at sad films and admits to worrying about almost everything. Can this be tough gut Sean Connery's so? With a new play opening this week, Jason reveals his gentle side.
UK - 1988
Ten minutes after sitting down to tea at his favourite South Kensington hotel, Jason Connery strips off a multi-coloured sweater and settles back in a white T-shirt. It might be freezing outside but the young actor, who turned the heat on as the Sheriff of Nottingham and stole thousands of girls' hearts in Robin of Sherwood, has thawed out. He's feeling cornfortable because he knows the place and, like his superstar father Sean, hates fuss and pretence of any kind. "I never say who I am in restaurants because I get embarrassed in case they ask, 'Who?'" he laughs. But all that should change this year because 1988 looks like being one of Jason's biggest. He opens in the play Journey's End in Southampton this week and it i transfers to the West End in March. Then there's the fairytale film Puss in Boots, plus The Train and Bye Bye Baby to watch out for.
"I'm really looking forward to being on stage again," he says of the play. "It's three-and-a-half years since I did any theatre and now, in Journey's End, I get to play Stanhope, Olivier's first ever part." Set in a World War One trench, the play explores a variety of emotions and reactions to war through its eight main characters, "I play a 21-year-old who's drinking a bottle of whisky a day. My research for the part was to get drunk for two weeks," he jokes, "No, I'm not a big drinker, but I do know what it feels like to be euphoric because you're drunk. I used to drink a lot of whisky when I was younger."
At 25, Jason is far from old now. Although he is very mature and serious about his career, you get a a feeling there is a fun-loving adventurer lurking below the surface. He certainly hit it off with Sylvester Stallone's ex, Brigitte Nielson, when they filmed Bye Bye Baby at the end of last year "She's not the temperamental type at all. She takes all the nasty things the press write about her in her stride, although I'm sure some of it hurts. I just take people as I find them. If I get on with them, great. If not, I leave them alone."
Jason admits to being pretty tolerant of most things, except rudeness. "Rudeness makes me enormously angry. There's just no need for it. I try to be as courteous as possible," he says, proffering the last scone. "What is even worse, though, is someone being rude, then finding out who I am and trying to be polite."
He is conscious of the fact that some people only want to meet him - or tell him he only got where he is today - because of his famous parents Sean Connery and actress Diane Cilento. "I have to hide my ambition sometimes because of who my parents are," he says. "If I'm too pushy people will say: 'Who the hell does he think he is? Just because he's Sean's son!'" It wasn't a problem when he was young because he didn't realise how famous his parents were. "I was at school so I missed the Bond thing and didn't appreciate how big Dad was until I saw the re-runs."
But he had other problems. "I was about nine or 10 when my parents broke up (Sean is now happily married to second wife, Micheline Roquebrune) and had quite a temper then Maybe it was something to do with my parents' split..."
Jason didn't have much time to feel the effects of the divorce because he went off to boarding school and only saw his parents during his holidays. Eventually he ended up at Gordonstoun, with Prince Edward a year below and Prince Andrew two years above him. Having decided he wanted to act, he left school, took his A-levels at a crammer while attending drama school, and then joined a repertory company. He hasn't looked back since he starred as Robin Hood on television two years ago.
With his then long blond hair and green eyes, he was mobbed on the London Underground and received sack loads of fan mail, including several proposals. But marriage is still a long way off... "I don't look for relationships. They just start when I least expect them," he says as he explains how he met his current girlfriend-who he doesn't want to name-at a dinner party. "She works for an advertising company, "he says. "She has a real enthusiasm for things and I like that. "But I'm not very good at showing my emotions and talking about love because I go red and get tongue-tied," he says, doing just that.
He might say he's not very good at showing emotion but later he confesses: "When I saw Dad in the film Untouchables, I started to cry when he died. I cry at a lot of films. "I'm prejudiced but I think my father's a great actor. I've never seen him give a bad performance and there's not many actors I can say that about."
Jason would love the same to be said about him. He can take his parents' criticism because "it's always constructive", though it isn't always so positive in the press. "One critic said watching Robin of Sherwood reminded her of the baby I in the Pampers ad, because I walked with my-tegs apart. I probably did because I was called 'Bowlegs' at school," he laughs. "But criticising my appearance doesn't really say anything about my acting." Then he brightens. "I suppose if cowboy movies come back, I could become an overnight star. . ." Who needs cowboy movies? He'll do it without them.
Shyness hasn't stopped Jason stepping out with pretty girls. Hre with Tracy Hector (left) and Katrine Boorman.