Which actor plays the best James Bond?

So I’m starting out this Bond week with the big one, the article that just has to be written when talking about 007, and the one that every fan inevitably has strong opinions about; who makes the best James Bond? This post marks the start of a week where my blog will become almost entirely concerned with James Bond, there will be a new article every day leading up to Skyfall’s UK release date, the 26th of October, and a variety of topics will be covered by articles, opinion based rankings and a guest review. For now though here is my order of the worst to best official James Bond’s:

6. George Lazenby - It won’t come as a surprise to many that I’m putting Lazenby last on my list; with only one Bond film to his name (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) he never really stood much of a chance. I give him credit for portraying an emotionally affected Bond quite well, but still he makes for a rather dull interpretation, and that one real strength that he had has now been undercut by both Dalton and Craig, who have both since handled emotional Bond storylines and have made much better jobs of it.

5. Roger Moore – I enjoy a lot of Moore’s films and do appreciate his angle on Bond, but he is coming in at 5th place because he never really presented a multilayered interpretation of the character. His gags and one-liners are great, but they come to define his portrayal and consequently I can never really buy him as a killer – he just doesn’t have many levels beyond the surface display of humour and so ranks lower down on this list. For Your Eyes Only makes for interesting viewing as he does play a darker and potentially more complex version of his character, however that alone cannot bring his Bond to measure up against the other four remaining interpretations. He’s still fun though, and contributed several great classic Bond films to the franchise.

4. Timothy Dalton – I’m a big fan of Dalton and it feels bad placing him in the lower half of this list, but his competition is just too great. Could be considered as the Bond who was in the wrong moment considering how well Craig’s similar interpretation has gone down recently. I’m more a fan of him than his films as it happens, and to an extent I wish that he could have played the part for a little longer, just to see him in a few more scripts and settings. Dalton’s a great Bond though, and one who is often unfairly brushed over or forgotten.

3. Daniel Craig - I love Craig’s work in both of his Bond films, despite Quantum of Solace being rather disappointing overall. I think that he plays the darker and more emotional Bond just a little better than Dalton did, but it’s a personal preference over the two interpretations really. Also I think that Craig looks at home with whatever lines he is saying or within whatever he’s wearing, whereas Dalton looked awkward in a tux and his delivery of the one-liners often feels just a little off to me. They are both great but I think Craig has the edge over Dalton – it also helps that he had the excellent Casino Royale with which to make his mark.

2. Sean Connery – He’s the one every other Bond is compared against and often tops people’s lists, and it’s easy to see why; he’s great at both the physical and charming sides to Bond, he’s incredibly cool and holds a special place as the first of the official Bond actors. His Bond’s treatment of women can be more than a little tough to swallow, but that really has to be attributed to a sign of the times as opposed to his character. It’s been hard choosing between these top two choices and Connery stars in some of my absolute favourite Bond films, objectively however I’m going to have to place him in second place.

1. Pierce Brosnan - The perfect mixture of all the other Bonds so far, Brosnan’s interpretation consistently feels fresh whilst also classic; he completely delivers as a charming, swarve secret agent who is physically strong and is completely at ease delivering a one-liner, looks great in a suit, and who also strongly convinces as a coldblooded killer. He may not have that rawness that Craig brings to the role but then again he shouldn’t, he is a polished and experienced 00 agent and fits in more with Connery’s style here. He also has an emotional undercurrent which unfortunately is barely exploited within his films, there’s enough signs that Brosnan’s Bond could have demonstrated this further if required, and that’s one of the many tricks that I think they missed when making Die another Day. Perhaps not placing Connery at the top of my list will seem controversial, but I think that Brosnan just manages to come across as a stronger, and more developed character than Connery ever did. There is very little between them however.

Potential future Bonds:

I also thought that it would be fun to suggest a couple of future Bond actors and hear your thoughts and suggestions below. So here are three actors who I think make interesting future candidates for the James Bond role:

3. Benedict Cumberbatch – I’m not entirely convinced but his name is already being thrown around a lot as both a future Bond, and Bond villain. He is a great actor, and would no doubt take the character in a new direction whilst still being able to handle both the quips and Bond’s colder side equally. The biggest problem that I see with Cumberbatch is that he’s already strongly tied to another iconic British character; Sherlock Holmes. Can we really have the same man playing both Sherlock and Bond?

2. Tom Hardy – Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to see this man’s name on my list, an incredibly strong actor, he could easily play a no-nonsense but also humorous Bond, think of his Eames character in Inception. The worry is that he will be too similar to Craig’s portrayal of the character; physically dominating and emotionally driven. Then again he is such a capable actor that he could probably handle almost any kind of Bond that they wished to try out on him – a very strong contender in my eyes.

1. Michael Fassbender – My current top choice for playing Bond after Craig, his version of the character seems a little harder to determine but is almost guaranteed to be great. He has had a fantastic run of great roles recently and deserves all of the acclaim that he has been receiving. Fassbender is a wonderful actor, and one that I think could be relied upon to take 007 in multiple different directions.

So do you have any suggestions for future Bonds? How much do you agree/disagree with my opinion on who makes the best Bond so far? Leave a comment below, and remember to vote for the best Bond film in the sidebar on the right and also to look out for tomorrow’s Bond post!

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21 comments

  1. Nice list. If I had to pick, Connery would be my number one choice, though Brosnan wouldn’t be far behind. It’d be really interesting to see Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, or Benedict Cumberbatch as Bond.

    1. Thank you, I think most will place Connery at the top – what would your list look like, or is that too tough a question? I know that I struggled to rank them :)

      1. 1. Sean Connery
        2. Daniel Craig
        3. Pierce Brosnan
        4. Roger Moore
        5. Timothy Dalton
        6. George Lazenby

    2. OK that’s an interesting list, do you dislike Dalton or is it just a case of everyone else being better? It’s always nice when people back Brosnan, there are far too many out there who really dislike him for some reason. Both him and Craig did fantastic jobs of rejuvenating the series and I find it pretty interesting that both Casino Royale and GoldenEye were directed by Martin Campbell. Thanks for sharing your order!

      1. I like Dalton but I did like the others better. I never understood the hatred of Brosnan. He’s great as Bond. I agree that both he and Craig rebooted the series as well.

  2. Nice list. Like I said, I’ve only seen three Bond films so far (the awful Die Another Day and the ones starring Craig), so I’m gonna have to go with Daniel. I love him as Bond. It surprised me that you picked Brosnan for #1 since everybody goes with either Craig or Connery, so thank you for adding some variety. I like your suggestions for future Bonds, though I do agree that Hardy’s would be very similar to Craig’s and I just can’t see Cumberbatch as 007. He’s not particularly handsome and he’s kinda funny-looking. He could make a killer villain, though. The best choice would be Michael Fassbender.

    1. Seeing Die Another Day as your only Brosnan film is such a shame, you’ll have to fix that! Craig is an awesome Bond and Casino Royale is one of my absolute favourite Bond films. Yeah I’m not expecting many to agree with me on Brosnan being the top Bond but we will see.
      True about Cumberbatch’s appearance but then I initially thought that Craig looked a little odd too but people seem to have fallen for his looks so what do I know? I also lean more towards a villainous role for him, and it would pretty fun from a fan point of view to see Sherlock up against Bond! Seriously though he’s a pretty good choice for a Bond villain. Glad we agree about Fassbender, it would be great to see him in that role – people may hold the fact that he isn’t fully British against him but I really don’t have a problem with that.

  3. You have got to be kidding with this list, right? Daniel Craig so high up, are you serious? Loved Pierce Brosnan (slightly arguable number one) but Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton should have been above Craig at least. For me nnumber one is between Brosnan and Dalton. Loved Connery too. All the Bond films subsequent to The World is Not Enough have spoilt the Franchise for me. I see where Brosnan seems to have been disappointed with the direction the Franchise was heading since Money-grubbing Sony took over and he therefore opted out (my estimation) – good move Pierce!!!

    The newer Bonds are painful to watch, I know every bond line by line and scen by scene up to The World is not Enough, tried watching that one with Halle Berry and almost cried, the same with Casion Royale, therefore I have boycotted all Bonds after The World is not Enough. Promise myself to never buy any of those, I have a nice Bond DVD collection and I swear it will never include any past The World is Not Enough. Absolutely LOVE Goldeneye, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, Dr. No and Live and Let Die!!!

    1. It’s interesting to hear from someone who has Brosnan and Dalton competing for top place, that’s quite unusual, but it’s a shame that you don’t like Craig – I think he has done fantastically as Bond so far. Completely understand why Die Another Day would damage the franchise for you though :)

      Great choices there, particularly GoldenEye and Live and Let Die! I’m not such a fan of Licence to Kill however, Dalton aside it’s a little weak and underwhelming for me.

  4. Christian Bone · · Reply

    Re your comment about Sherlock vs Bond; to take the fan-pleasing idea further why not have Cumberbatch in character as Sherlock team up with Craig’s Bond to face, oh I don’t know, Dracula. I’d definitely watch that. Coming back to reality, though, great article. :)

    1. Haha, that would certainly make for interesting viewing, and thank you! But if Cumberbatch were playing Sherlock then who would play Dracula?

      1. Christian Bone · · Reply

        Hmm, let’s say Tom Hardy. He would certainly make it his own.

    2. I can see that, but then again I can see Hardy in almost any role!

  5. Wow. Brosnan at number one, huh? I like him a lot too. I think 1-3 would be very close. So even though I would have him at three behind Connery and Craig, I wont argue.

    His films werent the best, but Brosnan was very effective as a highly intelligent lady killer. No doubt. The physicality of the role, not so much, but hey, they all cant have everything!

    1. Glad to see you ranking him highly, and I can understand why people would shift around those top three – it was hard work ranking them!
      True about the physicality of the role, but then at the same time it worked for the films that he was in.

  6. 70srichard · · Reply

    There is something seriously wrong in a world where anyone thinks Pierce Brosnan come out ahead of Sean Connery in anything, much less a comparison of Bonds. Maybe if the two Bonds you are comparing ate “Diamonds are Forever” v. “Goldeneye” I would at least hesitate for a moment before laughing. By the way, I like Pierce Brosnon and his Bond is fine as far as it goes, but none of those films will hold up the way the Connery films have. Am I giving him credit because he was the first? maybe, but being first also means that you have to create the role in the first place.

    1. At least Brosnan gave each film his all, which is more than I think can be said about Connery. And GoldenEye is a fantastic Bond film! It completely dominates several of Connery’s films, DAF most certainly included :) But don’t get me wrong, I think Connery is a fantastic Bond.
      What would your order of the actors be?

  7. A fair valuation. I mean, we’re all impressed with what Craig has done and been doing with his last 3 films but before that, the whole world seemed to agree that Brosnan is an excellent James Bond. Sean Connery is also very stylish and I just love his classc portrayal. Though Casino Royale is my fav Bond film ever but it’s credited to many others factor like the plot and the wonderful cast including Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen. So yes, i agree that he should not the best, but the second best (behind Brosnan or Sean is fine). Timothy Dalton is my favorite actor but for other character rather than James Bond so no.4 suits him well. And yes, George and Moore are the two Bond I cannot stand.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I don’t have a problem with Moore, generally speaking anyway, but I do think the other four are significantly better Bonds. Casino Royale is a very good choice! And yes, Daniel Craig is so very good in the role – I almost feel bad placing him in third place, maybe one day he will usurp the other two?

  8. OMG, glad you changed your mind James!! Dalton in fourth place whilst Brosnan in #1, that’s a travesty!! ;)

    I love your answer on Keith’s post, I hope you will update this article and let the world know Dalton is now your #1!! :D

    1. Hey don’t knock Brosnan now… But yes, Dalton is very cruelly placed in fourth place!

      What I think I will do is create a whole new series of posts and leave these ones be as past misjudgements!

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