Ian Lancaster Fleming was the author behind the legendary British spy, James Bond. He was born in 1908 and died in 1964 and wrote a total of twelve novels and 9 short stories about Mr. Bond. The first book he wrote about 007 was the 1953 Casino Royale and the first silver screen adaptation was ‘Dr. No’ (1962). The James Bond films are the longest running and most financially successful English-speaking film franchises to date spanning 22 movies over the course of 46 years (the last at the time of writing being ‘Quantum of Solace from 08′) and grossing over $11,000,000,000. Nobody can disagree that 007 is a box office Juggernaut, but everyone certainly can disagree who their favorite Bond actor is…
Six actors have officially portrayed Bond on film, and there are a lot of fierce debates on who the “REAL” Bond is. These actors played bond under EON productions which was guaranteed the rights to every 007 novel except apparently ‘Casino Royale’ which was recovered in 1999. Lets take a look at who has played him.
Sean Connery was the first Bond (technically the second). He was in a total of 6 Bond films which is about 27% of them and since he was the first, he set the bar of what James Bond is and how he acts.
- George Lazenby was the second to step into the shoes, but his run was a limited one. He only starred in one film titled ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ and was actually replaced by Sean Connery in the next film ‘Diamonds are Forever’. Nobody has stopped playing James Bond and re-took the role since this incident. George Lazenby was in 1 film which boils down to about 5% of the franchise.
- The third bond was Roger Moore. He starred in the most bond films to date with 7 movies under his belt which is about 32% of the franchise.
- Timothy Dalton followed Roger Moore with a 2 film run which is around 9%.
- Pierce Brosnan had a 4 film run taking around 15%.
- Daniel Craig is the current Bond. I have no idea what the future will bring us but at the time of writing he as only made 2 films which is around 9%.
The name’s Bond, James Bond
There are actually films starring Bond that were not from EON productions, because they were not written by Flemming. The non-EON Bonds are
- Sean Connery (again…) with the non-official 1983 remake of ‘Thunderball’ titled ‘Never Say Never Again’.
- David Niven with the 1967 Casino Royale which was a spoof film.
Sean was the first bond on the silver screen but the second bond in all, so he was what the other actors had to live up to or emulate. He pulled off the rugged/handsome look well, and had a great way about him. The Nostalgia Nazi’s refer to Connery as the ‘Best’ Bond because he was the first Bond.
Roger was a funny Bond. He really re-vamped the role of Bond and added more of a sense of Aristocracy or class to the character. His outfits totally sucked and he was a little old in his later films, but he was definitely one of the better Bond actors.
Timothy was more of the angry and cynical Bond. He added an edge to the character that wasn’t previously present, and was quite a change from the softer roles played by Roger Moore and he insisted on cutting the ever famous one-liners from the scripts.
The pretty-boy Brosnan… He had the modern sex-appeal and suave way about him that pulled off the character well. No matter how much I try, I can’t wrap my brain around Pierce Brosnan being a tough guy! He did bring back the one-liners, and they were pretty hilarious! Pierce Brosnan really made Bond big again, and had a pretty well-rounded character, but his film plots were the least believeable (the most being ‘Die Another Day’ -2002-).
Daniel Craig is the modern Bond. He may have blonde hair and blue eyes, but he delivers an epic portrayal of 007. He actually looks like he could beat people’s ass but at the same time adds more vulnerability to the role. Daniel is most like an actual person (with badass skills) because Bond actually makes mistakes and gets hurt occasionally. The biggest switch in my opinion is the change from Brosnan to Craig which I think is a good thing.
Who is the best?
The majority of people that will read this will be Connery fans, and I totally understand that reaction because he was first (technically second) and it’s easy to say Connery. But personally I have to go another way and choose Daniel Craig. The reason I pick Daniel is because he looks like he can do the things he does, and the movies are more believable. His two films have taken a different approach to 007 that made him more brooding and real. I have to admit it’s strange not seeing the gadgets and witty puns that became REALLY cliche with the series, but the movies were more enjoyable to me. I know that James Bond is supposed to be this ridiculously slick uber spy that can shoot 5 bullets and kill 11 people while sliding across the floor, but it was refreshing to see the guy make a damn mistake and even get ‘played’ by a female for once. Pierce was the Bond I grew up with and ‘Goldeneye’ was my favorite video game for years and all, but the invisible cars and knowing every language ever, and the crazy gadgets were just… not as cool to me.
- David Niven or Cary Grant was Ian Flemming’s preference for James Bond, but EON chose Sean Connery instead.
- David Niven was the only bond actor to be mentioned by name in the text of two 007 novels.
- The 1983 release of ‘Never say never again’ was a remake of the 1965 ‘Thunderball’ and actually starred Sean Connery as Bond. This happened through a legal loophole that allowed director Kevin McClory to create it. It was a non-official franchise film and was actually in the theaters at the same time as the EON official film ‘Octopussy’ (1983). United Artists’ parent company ‘MGM’ has since bought the name ‘James Bond’ preventing a repeat of this from happening in the future.
- Barry Nelson is actually noted as being the ‘first’ Bond with his TV appearance as James Bond on an anthology show called ‘Climax!’ in 1954. The adaptation was from ‘Casino Royale’ and preceded Sean Connery by 8 years. He is also the only American to play the role to date.
- Desmond Llewelyn has been in the most bond movies to date. His character simply known as ‘Q’ the quartermaster outfitted James Bond with his new gadgets. He has been in every Bond movie since ‘From Russia With Love’ until his death in 1999. Desmond has been in a total of 17 of the films including the EON produced made for TV movie titled ‘Welcome to Japan Mr. Bond’ which was bundled with the 2006 special edition release of ‘You Only Live Twice’.
- Desmond Llewelyn briefly introduced a new character ‘R’ played by John Cleese (from Monty Python) to take his place in his last Bond film titled ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999). John Cleese was the official quartermaster ‘Q’ in ‘Die Another Day’ (2002) after Desmond’s death shortly after the previous film.
- Ian Flemming originally wanted his cousin famous actor ‘Christopher Lee, to play Dr. No. But the producers instead chose Joseph Wiseman.
- Joseph Wiseman was the only early Bond villain to not have his voice dubbed over by another actor.
- Sean Connery wore a toupee in every one of his Bond films.
- The movie’s line “Bond. James Bond.” was voted as the #22 movie quote by the American Film Institute, and as #51 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere.
- Sean Connery is morbidly afraid of spiders. The shot of the spider in his bed was originally done with a sheet of glass between him and the spider, but when this didn’t look realistic enough, the scene was re-shot with stuntman Bob Simmons. Simmons reported that the tarantula crawling over Bond was the scariest stunt he had ever performed. According to Steven Jay Rubin’s 1981 book “The James Bond Films”, this tarantula was named Rosie.
- In Dr. No, Miss Moneypenny, the epitome of British efficiency, is played by Lois Maxwell, a Canadian.
- Real lasers were used in assisting with the creation of the special effects in ‘Moonraker’.
- The 2006 Casino Royale is the longest Bond film with a run time of 144 minutes.
- Daniel Craig is the first actor to play James Bond who is younger than the series itself.
- Casino Royale (2006) is the first film since Dr. No (1962) where there were no nude dancing females during the opening title sequence.
- The bomb-maker in the epic running chase scene in the beginning of ‘Casino Royale’ was played by Free Running /Parkour legend Sebastien Foucan.
- Quantum of Solace was the only ever direct sequel in the entire series.