LONDON Former James Bond actor Sean Connery has said an independent Scotland is an opportunity "too good to miss" and ending the union with England would help boost artistic creation north of their common border.
The Scottish-born star, 83, spoke out six months before a referendum that could split the United Kingdom. A long-term supporter of separation, the Bahamas resident has said he could return to his native land if it became independent.
He was the latest in a number of high-profile stars recently entering the independence debate. Last month, rock star David Bowie said "Scotland, stay with us" in a message read out by model Kate Moss at the Brit pop music awards.
"As a Scot and as someone with a lifelong love for both Scotland and the arts, I believe the opportunity of independence is too good to miss," Connery wrote in an article due to be published on the New Statesman website on Tuesday.
"Simply put - there is no more creative an act than creating a new nation," he said. The referendum on whether to end the 307-year union with England will be held on September 18.
Connery, who conceded that independence was a matter for the people who live and work in Scotland, argued that a "yes" verdict would boost that country's film and creative industries.
"Scotland has an opportunity to make a step change," he wrote. "More than anything else, culture defines a country. It provides international visibility and stimulates global interest more than a nation's politics, business or economy ever can.
"So, with our colorful history, strong identity, deep rooted traditions, a commitment to artistic innovation and diverse and beautiful landscapes, Scotland is truly blessed."
Also on Tuesday, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond will deliver a lecture in London about independence.
Salmond is heading the campaign for secession, battling London's efforts to prevent a "yes" verdict by undermining his Scottish National Party's central case that oil-rich Scotland could be a prosperous independent nation.
Financial heavyweights such as the Edinburgh-based Standard Life and the Royal Bank of Scotland have voiced concerns about uncertainties over currency, regulation, and tax regimes in the event of Scottish independence.
By contrast, the head of the International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, said it could be good for business.
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Tom Heneghan)