It’s James Bond Day, So We Ranked Every 007 Actor
To celebrate James Bond Day, we’ve poured ourselves a martini – shaken, not stirred, of course – and ranked every 007 actor, for your eyes only.
Ian Fleming’s super-suave secret agent, armed with a licence to kill, has been an icon of the big screen for decades. He’s a dazzling hero for grown-up movie-goers and a long-time idol of kids desperate to be James Bond just for the day, kissing all the girls and blowing the bad guys away.
In 1962’s Dr. No, we got our first proper introduction to the MI6 operative thanks to Sean Connery. Nearly 60 years later, we’ve seen five other actors don the tux and drive the Aston Martin, arriving at today’s soon-to-leave incumbent, Daniel Craig.
We’re marking the British agent’s special day by ranking all six Bond actors from worst to best. A couple of things to note: not a single one of these stars are bad, some are just better than others. Also, we’re not including Barry Nelson’s ‘Jimmy Bond’ or David Niven, as they star in third-party productions – they’re also pretty naff.
6. George Lazenby
He has one Bond film to his name: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a tremendously underrated effort. Yet, the Australian model-turned-actor’s legacy has proven to be one of the most controversial.
It was Lazenby’s first major acting gig outside commercials, yet under the weight of more complex material than the franchise’s pedigree afforded in the 1960s, he brought a certain, albeit wooden reserve, quiet humour and fighting chops to the role of 007 (heinous ‘other fellow’ fourth-wall break aside). Reportedly, the producers offered him a seven-picture contract, but he turned it down, citing Bond’s destiny as a relic – how wrong he was.
Appearances: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
5. Roger Moore
For better or worse, Moore defined the spy movie hero. He’s lighthearted, armed with with a greasy smile, ludicrous gadgets, incredible cars – such as The Spy Who Loved Me‘s Lotus Espirit S1 – and hilarious one-liners. For example, after Kananga blows up like a balloon in Live and Let Die, he quips: ‘He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.’
However, there’s no denying how far he strays from Fleming’s original character. While that alone isn’t sufficient grounds to lump him near the bottom, his continuous goofiness – he literally defuses a bomb while dressed as a clown – and sheer lack of physicality are major drawbacks, despite his tenure giving Moore icon status.
Appearances: Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill.
4. Timothy Dalton
A rather frustrating example of an actor being ahead of his time. Following Moore’s departure in 1985, and Pierce Brosnan’s lack of availability due to his Remington Steele contract, Dalton was brought in for a series revamp.
Brooding and cold, with a reigned-in wit and enthusiasm for performing his own stunts, Dalton has famously been dubbed the most accurate portrayal of Fleming’s character to ever reach the screen. Alas, his licence expired after just two movies, hampered by lacklustre critical and audience reception. Today, he’s enjoyed a handsome reappraisal of bringing a darker flair to Bond, something that’d become hugely popular down the line.
Appearances: The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill.
3. Sean Connery
He was the first, and for many, he’s still the best. The Scotsman’s introduction as Bond remains one of the franchise’s most effortlessly slick moments, an early indicator of the stature Connery holds as one of the finest 007s.
His later turns, from Thunderball through to Diamonds are Forever and the lesser-seen, unofficial Never Say Never Again, leave a sour taste in your mouth, whether it’s the faltering scripts, egregious misogyny or simply the actor’s age. Those issues are by the by; Connery nailed the cheeky, menacing lothario with aplomb.
Appearances: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever.
2. Daniel Craig
Blonde, smaller (in height, not muscle mass), more rugged – Craig drew the ire of ‘Bland, James Bland’ scepticism upon news of his casting. From the brutal black-and-white opening of Casino Royale, were the critics mistaken? ‘Yes, considerably.’
Craig’s gritty, hard-edged agent is the perfect hero for today, one rooted more in realism than fantasy. A spiritual successor to what Dalton tried to do, not without trademark Bondisms – for example, checking his cufflinks during the Istanbul chase – he’s earned his place as the longest-serving actor in the role, due to conclude his tenure with No Time To Die.
Appearances: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, No Time To Die.
1. Pierce Brosnan
In GoldenEye, Brosnan chases a car through Moscow in a tank, drifting around street corners and demolishing walls, vehicles and buildings in his wake. After one crash, he collects himself, adjusts his tie and races on. That golden moment is the very essence of James Bond.
The Irishman brought a little bit of everything: Connery’s womanising, Moore’s gadgets, Dalton’s virility, while adding his own signature charm. He’s not the brute we’d see later in Craig, but a more sophisticated commander; for example, in Tomorrow Never Dies, he verges from the ruthless dispatch of Dr. Kaufman to absolute glee in steering a remote-controlled BMW.
His 007 left with a fizzle, not a bang, in the critically-mired Die Another Day. Nevertheless, Brosnan lives on as the superlative, ultra-cool vision of Bond.
‘For everyone, Cameron?’ No, for me.
Appearances: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day.
No Time To Die hits cinemas on April 2, 2021.
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