James Bond is a fictional character created by British writer Ian Fleming. Fleming was a naval Intelligence officer. He was involved in planning and overseeing of intelligence operations during World War II. Fleming based the characters on a number of real life secret agents he met during his military service. He wrote fourteen Bond novels from 1952 to 1964. Twelve of Fleming’s novels were published in his lifetime. Remaining two novels were published posthumously. After Fleming’s death, several other writers contributed to Bond Series. Actors who have portrayed James Bond for films are referred as James Bond actors. Bond is a sophisticated British spy agent working for MI6. He is known by his code name number 007 (Double O seven). Bond receives special cars, guns and gadgets for his missions from Q Branch. He is noted for having relationships with various women known as Bond Girls. Bond novels feature several recurring characters such as Miss Moneypenny, M, Q, Felix Leiter, Bill Tanner, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, General Gogol, Sir Frederick Gray, Sheriff J.W. Pepper, Jaws and Charles Robinson.
James Bond Actors – Best to Worst
The character of James Bond has been adapted for movies. So far, twenty four Bond Movies have been produced by Eon Productions. There are additional two Non-Eon Bond movies. These movies have grossed a little more than $7 billion. Six actors have portrayed James Bond in Eon movies till date. These James Bond actors have been listed below in descending order based on their performances.
1- Sean Connery
Sean Connery was first actor to portray James Bond for films. Dana Broccoli (wife of producer Albert R. Broccoli) played an instrumental role for Connery’s selection as James Bond. She persuaded her husband that Sean Connery was the right man for the role. At first, Connery was hesitant to commit to a movie series. However, he figured out that if the movies succeed, his acting career would thrive. He worked in first Bond film named Dr. No (1962). The movie was an instant hit. It elevated Connery’s career to stardom. He went on play James Bond in From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Connery returned to the role in Non-Eon Bond movie Never Say Never Again (1983). All of his James Bond movies were commercially very successful. The series established as Connery as a male sex symbol. It was Connery who popularized James Bond with his performances. For this reason, he deserves first spot in the list of James Bond actors.
2- Roger Moore
Roger Moore was third actor the portray James Bond. After Sean Connery stepped down from playing Bond, producer Albert R. Broccoli offered the role to Moore. Moore lost weight and cut his hair for the role. His first Bond movie was Live and Let Die (1973). He reprised the role in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View to a Kill (1985). Moore has the distinction for playing James Bond for 12 years which is the longest duration for any Bond actor. He was also the oldest Actor to have played Bond. Moore retired from the role when he was 58 following. Moore’s portrayal of Bond significantly deviated from Ian Fleming’s original version. Moore’s Bond was more experienced, humorous, stylish, horny and tricky. Other James bond actors did not exhibit this much versatility.
3- Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan was fifth actor to play James Bond for big screen. He met with Albert R. Broccoli on the set of For Your Eyes Only (1981). Brosnan’s wife Cassandra Harris was playing a role in the movie. Broccoli found him suitable for inheriting the role of James Bond from Roger Moore. However, certain circumstances prevented Brosnan from starring as James Bond for nearly a decade. His first Bond film GoldenEye (1995) was a huge commercial hit. He reprised the role in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Did Another Day (2002). Brosnan stepped down from the role in 2005 when he was 52 years old. He was aware that critics and fans were not happy with Roger Moore for playing James Bond at the age of 58. Roger Ebert described Bosnan’s Bond as more sensitive, vulnerable and psychologically complete. Many critics consider Brosnan as best among James Bond actors.
4- Timothy Dalton
Timothy Dalton was fourth actor to play James Bond. He was first approached to play the character when he was merely 24 or 25 years old. Timothy declined considering him too young and not as good as Sean Connery. He accepted the offer after Roger Moore retired from the role. Timothy’s first Bond movie The Living Daylights (1987) grossed more than Moore’s last two Bond films. It also received critical acclaim. Timothy’s second Bond film License to Kill (1989) was another box office hit. However, it did not perform well in USA due to poor marketing campaign. Dalton had been hired for three Bond films. A legal battle started between MGM and Eon Productions in 1989 which continued till 1993. Meanwhile, Dalton’s contract expired and he lost interest in playing James Bond for third time. Dalton’s Bond was very close to Ian Fleming’s version of James Bond. He was more serious and darker as compared to previous James Bond actors.
5- Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is sixth actor to have portrayed James Bond. Craig took over the role from Pierce Brosnan in 2005. His selection was controversial. A number of notable critics and Bond movies fans expressed their displeasure over Craig’s selection. However, former James Bond actors supported his selection. Craig’s first Bond movie Casino Royale (2006) grossed a little over $594 billion worldwide. Craig was highly praised by critics for his performance. He went on to star in Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Craig describes his portrayal of James Bond as an anti-hero. Craig’s Bond is more emotional as compared to his precursors.
6- George Lazenby
George Lazenby was second actor to portray James Bond. He played the role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). Lazenby was merely 29 years when he played James Bond. This makes him youngest among James Bond actors to do so. Lazenby was a successful model before appearing as Bond on big screen. He first met Albert R. Broccoli at a hair salon. Later on, Broccoli saw one of Lazenby’s commercial and called him for a screen test. During the audition, Lazenby accidentally punched a stunt coordinator in the face. Broccoli was impressed by Lazenby’s ability to express aggression and hired him as James Bond. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) was a huge box office hit. However, Lazenby surprised everybody by refusing to play James Bond again. He said that he was doing so because filmmakers had made him feel like a fool. Lazenby faced a lot of criticism for his annoying post Bond movie attitude. People considered him an arrogant and self centered person. Years later, Lazenby admitted that he had acted stupidly in past. For his off-screen erratic behavior, George Lazenby is considered worst among James Bond actors.