This summer Sean Connery has starred in two movies. The first, Dragonheart, featured only his voice behind a computer-animated reptile. But The Rock, a fast-moving testosterone extravaganza set in San Francisco's infamous Alcatraz prison, sees the 65-year-old Scot back in the physical fray. 'It wasn't that difficult really,' he says of his decision to go back to the action arena. 'Looked more dramatic than it was.' Not that Connery takes his films lightly. 'If I make mistakes in my choices,' he says carefully, 'I want to make the mistakes. I don't want anyone else to make the mistakes for me. I make enough mistakes as it is.' Behind those words lie the unalterable truth that Connery is both respected and feared in the film industry. He has taken out enough writs in his time to prove he is a force to be reckoned with. 'The studios know that I'll go to the end with them,' he says. 'And that's something that has been so well publicised and is so much in place, it doesn't happen so much any more. Also, you cut the deal differently so your piece is untouchable because the other accountings have nothing to do with your result. It's how you defeat them.' People tread lightly with Connery, who was born in Edinburgh. The Rock ended up in arbitration - at least six writers were involved in the movie and a dispute cropped up over final screen credits - but Connery was not involved. He brought two of his own writers in. 'When I received the script, it was a very basic action piece. My objection was that the part I was asked to play was just a convict, I couldn't see how you could sustain two hours of that.' In the US$70 million (about HK$540 million) film, Connery plays John Mason, an ex-SAS officer and the only man to have escaped from Alcatraz alive. When a band of renegade Marines take over the island, aiming lethal chemical weapons at San Francisco, Mason is drafted in to lead FBI expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) through the maze to defuse the bombs. 'I like Cage as an actor, I've always liked him,' Connery says. 'And I liked the idea of the picture being on Alcatraz and there being chemical warfare - that's kind of scary. 'But in my case, I prefer something with more humour to it. Initially, my character was just a man who'd been in jail, a hard man who'd escaped a couple of times and could break people's necks and what have you,' he says. 'I came up with the idea of making John Mason military, ex-SAS, and stealing the diaries of Hoover. I presented my ideas to them and said I'd do it if we could do it this way. They were more than enthusiastic about it, so we got the writers in and we changed it.' Connery is always highly involved in the movies he makes. 'At the end of the day, you make a decision to make a movie, so you want to be going into it with total enthusiasm. And it's rare that a film comes out exactly as you visualise. 'There are too many people involved, too many ingredients; directors, producers, other actors. Changes are made. Suddenly, there's not enough money for this, or we have to shoot somewhere else, or it's a bad time to start. Many, many elements which are completely out of your control,' he says. 'So I like to stay on top. I like to make the choices to make the mistakes myself. I don't have a manager, any decisions I've made have been mine. So that way, I know the kind of films that I like, that I would like to see and that I would like to see made.' The film was shot largely on location in Alcatraz. 'The interior of the place is sinister,' Connery says. 'And the weather was quick to change - it can be very warm, very cold. It's like Ireland in that you get the four seasons in one day.' A keen golfer, Connery now lives in France 'because of the food, the wine' and the fact that his wife, Micheline, is French. But he is still active in his home town of Edinburgh and waxes lyrical about the novels of Irvine Welsh and the adaptation of his book, Trainspotting. 'It's incredible,' he says. 'I think this movie should be seen by everybody. It's a different side of Edinburgh.' Trainspotting tells the tale of a group of Edinburgh drug addicts - a story Connery knows well. 'Everybody sees the tartan shortbread box side of Edinburgh and the castle,' he says. 'But it has the worst drug scene in Europe. I opened a hospice in Edinburgh two years ago; funny thing is, none of the patients in there got AIDS through sex. They all got it through a place . . . where they went for heroin at five quid [about HK$60] a time and they all shared needles. It's shocking.' Connery has two sons, aged 30 and 31. 'They're both married now, but we talk a lot about AIDS,' he says. 'It's become more prevalent. But I believe there are far more major problems with drugs than with sexual proclivity. I can't honestly believe - and I'm talking about everywhere - that neither the Americans, the British, the French, the Germans, nor the Dutch are really doing what's necessary to deal with drugs.' Conservative by nature, Connery believes the international drug problem needs 'military intervention'. 'Have you seen these young people today?' he asks. 'I do, down at the hospice. There's one woman who had four children, all under the age of 22, and three of the four are dead. The other was dying the week I was last there. Somebody must be being paid somewhere for the authorities to be as hopeless as they are about the drug situation. 'You have to pass emergency laws; take the military and go in,' he says. 'But I don't think there's an authority in existence that has the inclination and the teeth to do it. Because don't tell me that every city in the world doesn't have areas where you can just walk in and buy whatever drugs you want.' Connery, for many the definitive James Bond, has ruled out the possibility of ever playing Agent 007 again. But rumours persist that he will take the role of the villain in the next Bond production. 'Everybody's told me that and I've never heard anything about it,' he says. 'Somebody's even told me I'm going to play 'M'. But all things are possible. And there's a couple of things to be considered; one, it depends on what the script is like. And two, what price they'd go to!' At the end of the day, he says: 'If you keep using a yardstick that's your own, after a certain time there emerges a pattern to what you do. After you've been doing it long enough, like I have, I suppose it becomes more than acceptable.' He laughs. 'Well, people seem to like it well enough.'