Love them or hate them – in 2015 you can’t
One of the most entertaining movie debates is who played James Bond the best. While the actors who portrayed 007 seem to fit the direction of the franchise in the era the films were released, some actors just had a handle on the character a little more than others. A mix of sexiness, danger, and cockiness are three vital traits in personifying the legendary spy. Six actors have portrayed Bond over the years, but who did it best?
6. Timothy Dalton – Wedged in between Roger Moore’s run and Pierce Brosnan taking the keys to the Aston Martin was the flat and uninteresting Timothy Dalton. Dalton’s wooden delivery and awkwardness in action scenes kept his two films, The Living Daylights and License To Kill, from being any more than fillers in the franchise. The late 80s and early 90s, when these films were released, were a sort of no-man’s land for the character as the Cold War just ended and Dalton’s character was left to take on forgettable villains in forgettable films.
5. George Lazenby – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was Lazenby’s only film as James Bond, and he did a serviceable job. Taking over after Sean Connery left the franchise and before Roger Moore dominated the 70s and 80s, George Lazenby was confident in his role, but ultimately unforgettable. A common mistake for people to make is to say five actors played Bond, not six, which speaks to the memorable performance of Lazenby.
4. Pierce Brosnan – Brosnan began his run as 007 with promise, starring in GoldenEye which seemed to reinvigorate the franchise The new hi-tech world of the 90s fueled the Bond fire early on for Brosnan, who brought back the smarmy wit that had been absent with Dalton. But then, things began falling apart, and Brosnan grew increasingly boring with each of his entries. Everything culminated in maybe the worst Bond film ever, Die Another Day, complete with invisible car and invisible charisma from Brosnan.
3. Roger Moore – This is where the list might separate, as the top three Bond actors could rightfully take the top spot, depending on who you talk to. Roger Moore took over for George Lazenby, but, really, he took over for Sean Connery. Moore would play 007 in seven films, each with their own merits, mostly because of Moore’s tongue-in-cheek playboy personification. Moore’s Bond always seemed a bit drunk, and a bit more preoccupied with the ladies than the other Bonds. It was a testament to the time when Moore played the role in the late 80s and early 80s, where this type of masher persona fit well.
2. Sean Connery – I know this may be blasphemy, putting Connery at 2. I know die hard fans of the franchise might dismiss this ranking just… because. Sean Connery is celebrated as the best Bond so often because he was the original, which can often be confused as the best. His six films in the franchise are arguably some of the best (his later return to the role with Never Say Never, Again, is ill-fitting), and he nailed every important aspect of the character. But Connery began with a clean slate, and did not have the daunting task of rescuing a stale legend.
1. Daniel Craig – Controversy swirled around the casting of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Craig as 007, but he immediately silenced critics with Casino Royale, a reboot of the character and a restart of the franchise that had become a painfully parody of itself. Craig brought a manly edge to the film, a fierce athleticism, and still managed to get the ladies when he wanted. Craig’s Bond could be hurt, he could bleed, and he could fight, adding much-needed reality. While Quantum of Solace was a poor entry in the pantheon, Craig returned with director Sam Mendes to star in Skyfall, one of the very best Bond films. Craig is not finished with the films either, and expect more great things to come in Bond 24.