Daniel Craig Remembers James Bond Icon Sean Connery as 'One of the True Greats of Cinema'
"His wife Micheline and his two sons, Jason and Stephane have confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family," a rep for the actor told PEOPLE. "There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended."
After hearing of Connery's death, Craig, who has played James Bond in the popular franchise since 2005, honored the iconic actor, who first played the role on screen in 1962. "It is with such sadness that I heard of the passing of one of the true greats of cinema," Craig, 52, said in a statement.
"Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more. He defined an era and a style," Craig continued. "The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in megawatts; he helped create the modern blockbuster. He will continue to influence actors and film-makers alike for years to come."
"My thoughts are with his family and loved ones. Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course," he concluded.
Last November, Craig confirmed that the latest Bond movie, No Time To Die, would mark his final time portraying James Bond. He took over the role from Pierce Brosnan for 2006’s Casino Royale, and went on to reprise the character in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, 2012’s Skyfall, and 2015's Spectre.
The official James Bond Twitter account also confirmed Connery's death on Saturday and shared a message from producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. “We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Sean Connery,” the statement began.
“He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words — 'The name's Bond... James Bond' — he revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent," the statement continued. "He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him."
Connery starred in seven James Bond films beginning with 1962’s Dr. No and blazed through a celebrated three-decade streak as 007 that would culminate in 1983’s Never Say Never, setting the gold standard for others seeking to don Bond's sharp tuxedo.
In a career that spanned six decades — from his early days in TV to a full-blown run as Hollywood leading man — Connery would showcase his versatility as an actor, moving between prestige fare (TV adaptations of Anna Karenina and Macbeth), retellings of classics (Robin and Marian) and thrillers (Highlander, Rising Sun).
But outside of his Bond films, the Scotsman is most fondly remembered for two roles: as Indiana Jones’ testy, persnickety father in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and as the doomed Irish cop Jimmy Malone in 1987’s gangster epic The Untouchables.
Connery's son Jason told BBC that his father had been "unwell for some time."
"We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time," Jason said. "A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor."