Mining the Internet Movie Database

Browsing in IMDb produces some initially surprising discoveries.

It’s easy to imagine, of a star like Sir Sean Connery, that his name is unique in the business. But a search turns up 16 other Connerys including 6 actors (among them his son Jason), his artist wife Micheline Roquebrune, who has a gallery at his website, 3 stuntmen including Gabe Connery (aka Gabe Cronnelly) who was Sir Sean’s stuntman in Indiana Jones and the last Crusade.

Sir Sean has made 77 films. One expects this sort of achievement from a veteran star like him, but it isn’t only old ones who have such a high tally. Take Alfred Molina. I first noticed his intense expression when he came as part of a touring theatre company to perform a play in the Sport and Leisure Centre at Alton, a few miles from where I live in east Hampshire, southern England. Then he began appearing on TV.

But then, like Connery, Molina had a supporting part in an Indiana Jones adventure (the first, Raiders of the Lost Ark); and Molina has now appeared in 75 movies and TV dramas including playing George Melly in The Trials of Oz, the title role in Hancock (1991), a psychopathic Russian secret agent and butcher in The Man Who Knew Too Little, the town mayor in Chocolat, and DocOck in Spider-Man 2. Yet he is only 51 years old (Connery is 74) and he’s nothing like so well known.

Or look up Robbie Coltrane, bulky actor famous as Dr Johnson in the Georgian Blackadder episode. He played Dr Johnson again in a drama of the tour of the western islands. Other famous roles include Russian gangster Valentin Zukovsky in two 1990s James Bond titles, and the giant Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies.

There are four other actors surnamed Coltrane, plus two composers including the jazz legend John Coltrane, (in whose honour Robbie chose his stage name: he was born Anthony Robert McMillan). Robbie graduated in drawing, painting and film. He has appeared in 64 movies and TV dramas. He is 54.

The ability to jump from the movies a person has been in to the other people that were in a given movie, and then perhaps to a list of titles where two given people worked together, makes browsing the IMDb so easy and such fun. Any movie fan with internet access who has not yet visited it (there can surely not be all that many) is in for a treat.

2004 Ian P. Hudson

Revised January 2007. First published in SEMantics Issue 170 December 2004