Queen's sky-jump double: 'I think they liked my legs'

TODAY

Gary Connery (no relation to Sean) is also no stranger to jumps; he's the first skydiver in history to land safely without a parachute.

There's a new Bond girl on the block, and she just happens to be the reigning Queen of England.

For many spectators around the world, it was the queen who stole the show during the opening ceremony when she "jumped" from a plane with current James Bond. 

Only, it wasn’t actually Queen Elizabeth making the leap. It was male stunt double Gary Connery, dressed in a sparkly pink dress and white wig ("Bond" actor Daniel Craig had a stand-in, too).

While Connery went through several rehearsals, the opening ceremony was the first time he wore his costume. “I mean I’ve worn my own dresses out loads of times,” he joked with TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Monday. “But in terms of the jump it was the first time.”

Connery test-jumped over an airfield and then over the Olympic Stadium. In true 007 style, the rehearsals were done steathily and under a shroud of darkness. "We probably did, I think, four rehearsals over the stadium, but kind of at the dead of night so nobody saw what we were up to,” he said.

Connery poses in the plane with Daniel Craig's double, pre-jump.

It's no wonder James Bond jumped with the queen; he is charged with protecting her in his role at MI6, the British intelligence agency. In a famous scene from the 1977 film "The Spy Who Loved Me," one girl says desperately to Bond, "But James, I need you!" As he walks out the door with a parachute and goggles he says, "So does England."

“London is the center of everything relating to Bond," author and espionage expert Nigel West told TODAY. "He is the personification of the central British character.”

Lauer asked Connery why opening ceremony director Danny Boyle and his team didn't get a female skydiver to do the risky stunt.

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

Connery, mid-air during Friday's opening ceremony stunt.

“Good question. I think they liked my legs,” Connery, who is not related to "Bond" actor Sean, said. “I’ve got Queen-style legs.”

Connery is no stranger to big jumps. Not only does he make a career out of being a stunt double, he also leaped into the history books earlier this year when he became the first skydiver to land safely without using a parachute. Instead, he told Lauer, he wore a wingsuit and jumped "like a flying squirrel" from a helicopter at 2,400 feet, landing on a runway made of nearly 19,000 cardboard boxes.

Fans who can't get enough of the now-renowned jumper can look forward to next year, when he lands in Vegas on the 4th of July. No word yet on whether he'll be in his flying squirrel suit or a sparkly pink dress. 

More: Video: It's the big 5-0 for 007 franchise
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Cheers! 6 British beers to quench your Olympic thirst
Shawn Johnson's dare: On your marks, get set...jump for TODAY! 

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Discuss this post

The Queen's entrance and Rowan Atkinson were my favorite parts of the opening ceremony. Absolutely brilliant.

  • 10 votes
Reply#1 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:05 PM EDT

I agree! The whole Bond sequence was very creative and Atkinson...well, 'nuff said there.

Her Majesty is no shrinking violet. During the Second World War, she spent most of her time as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, most likely buried up to her armpits in axle grease.

So I can't help but wonder: knowing her as we do, how many folks thought--just for a few seconds--whether it was really the monarch taking a header out of that helicopter.

Of course it's ridiculous. She's the reigning Queen and she's 86 years old. No way would they take that monumental and foolhardy risk. It was a professional stuntman, and he's already been named in the press.

But still...being the tough lady she is, if she *did* try it, I'd wager she'd make it count.

  • 7 votes
#1.1 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:30 PM EDT

Me too. It was great! The Queen has a great sense of humor, now we see.

  • 2 votes
#1.2 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:25 PM EDT
Reply

Rowan Atkinson is the best. also loved seeing that the Queen has a sense of humor.

  • 4 votes
Reply#2 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:09 PM EDT

Good on, mate .... I'd watch yer legs flaylin' anytime...:)

    Reply#3 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:18 PM EDT

    Your highness... dear, you need a shave!

    • 5 votes
    Reply#4 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:20 PM EDT

    LOL

      #4.1 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:26 PM EDT
      Reply

      That was by and far the best part of the Olympics 2012 so far.

      • 1 vote
      Reply#5 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:32 PM EDT

      Classic in British style. It was said that the Brits spent 13 billion on the current games and the Chinese 40 billion back in 2008. Although, the opening cermony was more spectacular in 2008. But only the Brits can give us Bond, The Beatlles, Zeppilon, Poppins, Churchill, The Who, and of course The Queen. The Chinese gave the world gunpowder. Go figure.

      • 2 votes
      Reply#6 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:38 PM EDT

      53 in Texas,

      I was also thinking that the Beijing ceremony was more colorful but the Chinese didn't have all the cultural background that the world recognized immediately compared to the British, so I guess that was why London could get away with spending less money.

      • 2 votes
      #6.1 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:42 PM EDT

      Although I must say the Chinese put on a spectacular show of artistic talent and color...it was incredible. The scale of the thing was incredible and beautiful.

      • 1 vote
      #6.2 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:27 PM EDT

      Agreed. Beijing Opening & Closing ceremonies were absolutely spectacular. It will take alot to top that one. The scrolling floor. The Video screen that encircled the entire crown of the stadium. And of course the fireworks.

      The Opening Ceremony by the Brits was good, but I found it a bit on the boring side. The best part of it was the Industrial Revolution and how they were able to make the scenery changes right before our eyes. It was great, but when you compare it to Beijing, it falls a bit short. Although the fireworks were extremely spectacular, and the way David Beckham brought in the Olympic torch was also a nice touch.

      I hope they go out with a bang at the closing ceremony. You know that Rio will go all out in 2016. Multiply Carnival by a thousand.

      • 1 vote
      #6.3 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:11 PM EDT

      London did a fantastic job in the difficult position of following the Beijing extravaganza. The U.K. showcased its considerable widely-known contributions and/or achievements with something for everyone, recognizing that only China with a population of 1.3 billion can recruit a super-size cast of thousands. The population of the U.K. is 64 million. The U.S. has 4 times the population of the U.K.; China's has 20 times more than the U.K. (And China's talent pool also works in its favor in the quest for medals.) But the U.K. has things like its cultural and industrial achievements as well as its National Health Service and a queen that they can enjoy and take pride in. Danny Boyle did a wonderful job of weaving all into an opening night narrative that probably was even better if unedited for TV.

        #6.4 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:59 PM EDT
        Reply

        You mean that was a MAN up whose skirt I was trying to sneak a peek? Oh, bollocks!

        • 7 votes
        Reply#7 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:03 PM EDT

        Nobody does drag queens like the british. ;)

        • 1 vote
        Reply#8 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:06 PM EDT

        It was just simply HILARIOUS. Enjoyed it

        • 1 vote
        Reply#9 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:29 PM EDT

        Too bad Gary Connery makes a better LOOKING Queen than the Queen herself.

          Reply#10 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:39 PM EDT

          Really? And how pretty do YOU expect to be at her age?

            #10.1 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:07 PM EDT

            @howie: A lot like Aliester Crowley, only with thinner eyebrows.

            ---

            Hey Circle: I've got only two words for you, but the moderators will ban me for saying them, but I think even you can figure out what F — — k Y — o. means.

            I don't give a @!$%# about the damned queen of england. She's of absolutely no value to me whatsoever.

            Much like all the whining and crying about Diana dying... I simply can't give a flying f--k about the royal family. They're useless.

            But we can take this elsewhere.

              #10.3 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:15 AM EDT

              Grow up.

                #10.4 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:26 PM EDT
                Reply

                Connery is an amazing Skydiver...not sure what a sky-jump is though, but I expect nothing correct to come from an NBC company.

                  Reply#11 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:39 PM EDT

                  not sure what a sky-jump is though

                  It's a ride at the top of that tower in Las Vegas. Geez, don't you know anything? Probably spending too much time reading NBC online... ;-)

                    #11.1 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:46 PM EDT
                    Reply

                    I heard Quentin Crisp was the REAL queen of England.

                      Reply#12 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:44 PM EDT

                      Sorry, I wasn't impressed. The Chinese display was much more colorful with their dragons and fireworks. The British opening was boring for non-English speaking audiences without the history of the industrial revolution, etc. The Mr. Bing thing was silly and had no place. The Rap singer was disgraceful for the rich British history that could have been presented. Since English is the current universal language, it would have been nice to show why English became so popular and how the crown was well known worldwide. I enjoyed the beginning but it became boring. I'm hopeful the Brazilian opening will be colorful, exciting and shows the entire beautiful country from their beaches to the Amazon and everything in between.

                        Reply#13 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:05 PM EDT

                        You mean the Queen didn't really jump out of the helicopter with Bond? Now I am disappointed!

                          Reply#14 - Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:52 PM EDT

                          I thought the whole bit was hilarious, however, it would have been all the better if the Queen hadn't come into view with that stoneface she has. If she would have been smiling, waving, and possible straightening her dress, now that would have been the bomb!

                            Reply#15 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:47 AM EDT

                            Maybe she was mad cause she found out the stunt person was a man, hahaha.

                              #15.1 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:51 AM EDT
                              Reply
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