Shaken, Stirred And Ranked
Our pain-staking analysis of every superspy that has played the role of James Bond
It’s fair to say Bond fans everywhere are holding their breath for the now delayed release of the 25th Bond film No Time To Die (2020), starring blue eyed Daniel Craig. Given the pandemic we’re not quite sure when the suave brit will be able to grace our screens again but it’s a great time to look at past Bonds and see what truly makes the franchise what it really is; the super spies. Over the years, six actors have had a licence to kill but which one of them played the role best? We decided to rank – not the films, not the storylines, not the cars but the actors, based on their performances.
1. Sean Connery
Let’s be real, if Connery hadn’t made it to the top of our list the outcry from the internet would’ve been “positively shocking” – true fans will get the joke. Many have had their martinis shaken and not stirred but Sir Sean set the tone for Bonds to follow and thus claiming the title of the quintessential bond. Balancing suave, menace along with his dry one-liners, Connery was and still is king in the eyes of many – his panther-esque physique doesn’t hurt either. All these qualities make Connery’s films rewatchable over the years but Goldfinger (1964) has to be our favourite.
2. Roger Moore
We will forever remember Moore as the bond who defused a bomb dressed as a clown. (Octopussy 1983) Furthest from Flemings vision of Bond, Moore brought light-heartedness and fun to an otherwise bloodshed loaded and misogynistic franchise that is 007. After Connery’s departure, Moore helped turn the franchise into the juggernaut for which its known today. Moore might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you prefer the doom and gloom the spy-series promises but his charm and quip (aided by the silliest gadgets) easily make room for him at the top of our list. The longest-serving spy has a roster of films under his belt but the best one has to be The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
3. Pierce Brosnan
Making his debut with Goldeneye (1995), the first film in the series not based on Ian Flemings stories; Brosnan solidified his status as one of the all-time great bonds. The Irishman – despite what naysayers may think (and we know they’re many of them) makes for the perfect combination of all things that make Bond – well, Bond. His chiselled physique, his grit and campiness alone help him mark the spot but it’s his vulnerability and sensitivity that really set him apart from his predecessors. If you can look past the invisible Aston Martin, Brosnan’s exceptional performance in Goldeneye (1995) makes him worthy of top 3 on our list.
4. Daniel Craig
After Die Another Day (2002) the Bond franchise was struggling and then in came Craig, with Casino Royale, directed by Martin Campbell as a reboot for the franchise. When it comes to emotionally traumatised orphan, Craig fits the bill like no other. The British blonde helped the franchise get back to its feet and left it in good stead too. Craig directly embodied Bond as imagined by Ian Fleming and other authors. Although he plays the superspy role with grit and gravitas his performance unlike the others before him was less of a smarmy playboy and more focused on the psychological depth of Bonds backstory. Picking between Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012) is a punishing task but we’ll go for Casino Royale simply because it helped relaunched the franchise.
5. Timothy Dalton
After Roger Moore’s seven film tenure, Timothy Dalton took over starring in the creative shift that was The Living Daylights (1987). The Welshman who starred in two bond films was given the impossible task of stepping into Moore’s shoes while becoming a more serious character. Although less tongue-in-cheek, Dalton happened to star in films that lacked the cultural cache of the earlier instalments. The classically trained actor although made for a great Bond couldn’t make the top our list purely because of the mediocre films he happened to star in. If we had to pick a favourite, the dark and violent Licence To Kill (1989) makes the cut for bringing something new to the table.
6. George Lazenby
A model and commercial actor turned Bond makes for a brawler and less of a refined gentleman (not to mention the on-set drama). Starring in one film only, Lazenby swiftly came, stumbled and left. His performance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) although surprisingly fine didn’t quite make an impact. The Australian actor, however, did manage to tap into Bonds more vulnerable, Daniel Craig-like side well before its time, making it one of the better Bond films of the 60’s and ultimately gaining it a cult following.