When you think of spy movies, you inevitably think of Bond. James Bond.
Ian Fleming’s 007 has been the quintessential spy character since his 1953 creation—complete with the coolest cars, the most hi-tech gadgetry, and the most beautiful women pining for his affection (despite the rampant misogyny of the film series, Angie Barry was able to rank the 24 Bond films from a feminist’s perspective). The series was eventually adapted for the silver screen in 1962, featuring Sean Connery as the famed secret agent. Since then, 5 other actors have played the character, and it is hotly debated who played him best.
The first actor to play Bond, Connery’s portrayal actually influenced Fleming to later give the character a sense of humor and a familial backstory that coincided with the Scottish accent the actor brought to the role. Owning the second longest tenure, Connery appeared in six James Bond movies, including:
Dr. No (1962)
From Russia with Love (1963)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
At 29 years old, Australian actor George Lazenby was the youngest actor to don the title. Although signing on for seven Bond films, he only appeared in one, claiming that the producers treated him poorly. In later interviews, Lazenby expressed that James Bond was archaic in the liberated 70s and that he prefers being “a car salesman to a stereotyped James Bond.”
He is the only actor to portray James Bond that wasn’t from the British Isles, and his one role included:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
On the flipside, Roger Moore was the oldest and longest running actor to play James Bond—beginning his tenure at age 45 with Live and Let Die (1973) and ending his run at 58 with A View to a Kill (1985).
To cater to the style and tastes of the 70s, Moore’s Bond was starkly different than the character portrayed in Fleming’s novels—leading to the character’s stereotypes of being a debonair playboy with fancy gadgets and a rapier’s wit. Overall, Moore starred in seven Bond films including:
Live and Let Die (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
A View to a Kill (1985)
Succeeding the lighthearted humor of Moore’s bond, Timothy Dalton—a fan of the original Fleming novels who was often seen re-reading the source material when not filming—returned Bond to the dark, more serious character that was portrayed in the books. Dalton’s performance was met with mixed reviews: the critics and fans of Fleming’s Bond lauded the more serious interpretation, however, many moviegoers had become accustomed to Moore’s Bond and criticized the lack of humor.
Despite signing on for three films, a lawsuit between MGM and the film’s producers that lasted several years caused the third film to be canceled. When the issue was finally resolved, Dalton had lost interest in portraying the character and announced he would not do the third film. The two films he did complete include:
The Living Daylights (1987)
Licence to Kill (1989)
After Dalton’s retirement, Pierce Brosnan (who had been previously considered to play A View to a Kill) assumed the role, and with it, brought some of the humor and wit back to the screen. Beginning with GoldenEye (1995), Brosnan’s Bond also reflected several of the social changes of the time. He was the first Bond not to smoke, and he was far less overtly sexual and domineering over women—even being called a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War” from the first female M, Judi Dench.
Despite announcing his intentions and desire to do a fifth film, when contract negotiations stalled, Brosnan ended his run at four, including:
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Die Another Day (2002)
When it was announced that Daniel Craig had been appointed 007 status, the internet does what it always does—it lost its collective mind. Internet campaigns protested the decision, claiming that the rugged, 5’10’’, blond hair/blue eyed Craig did not match the tall, dark, suave, and handsome character that Bond was intended to be.
Nicknamed “James Blond” and “James Bland” from various sources, the critics were silenced when Casino Royale was released in 2006. Craig’s Bond was considered the closest to Fleming’s intended character, his films including:
Casino Royale (2006)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Who is your favorite actor to play James Bond? Vote below:
Although technically still active as James Bond, rumors have spread that Daniel Craig does not wish to continue his portrayal of the world’s favorite secret agent.
Who do you think should take over as 007? Let us know in the comments below!