Our Favorite James Bond Actors, Ranked

Movie theatres are once again packed as excitement is buzzing for the newest addition to the James Bond franchise, “No Time to Die.”

By Isabel Brown4 min read
Our Favorite James Bond Actors, Ranked

As the world says goodbye to Daniel Craig as the face of 007, we’re ranking the six men who’ve embodied the iconic spirit of James Bond. If you’ve somehow made it this far in life without watching these timeless films or reading the original novels, it’s time to hit the big screen! 

Warning — spoilers ahead for No Time To Die. 

“Bond. James Bond.” It’s perhaps the most well-known line in cinematic history, tied to one of the most recognizable characters across the globe. Clothed in perfectly-tailored suits, sporting the latest gadgets and weapons, and arm-in-arm with a beautiful “Bond girl,” James Bond has defined movies and culture for multiple generations, making it a purely subjective conversation when it comes to choosing the “best” face of 007. Despite this reality, here’s what Evie has to say on the subject!

6. George Lazenby 

Our least favorite Bond is the man who held the role for the shortest period of time, George Lazenby.

Lazenby took on the role of 007 in 1969, between two other films starring Sean Connery. He then quit the franchise, citing concerns that the stardom of James Bond was over by the time he took the role. In 2017, he shared in an interview with The Guardian, “I had advice that James Bond was over anyway. It was Sean Connery’s gig and, being in the ‘60s, it was love, not war. You know, hippy time. And I bought into that.”

The producers of the franchise regretted the casting as well, with Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli sharing with the Los Angeles Times that casting Lazenby was the franchise’s “biggest mistake in 16 years. He just couldn’t deal with success. He was so arrogant. There was the stature and looks of a Bond, but Lazenby couldn’t get along with the other performers and technicians.”

Despite the drama on set, on screen, Lazenby’s portrayal of 007 is still difficult to criticize – his deliverance of James Bond remains beloved by fans of the story.

You can watch George Lazenby as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

5. Timothy Dalton 

Tall, dark, and handsome, Timothy Dalton held the role of James Bond in the late 1980s and took on a more serious, no-nonsense charisma when portraying 007. Likely in an attempt to distance his legacy as Bond from his predecessor, the rather comedic Roger Moore, Dalton avoided the use of humor and brought a different perspective to James Bond.

He delivered an emotional depth to the character when concerned about friends and colleagues previously unseen by Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and George Lazenby, and lent a sober temperament to 007 that many say inspired the interpretation of Bond embraced by Daniel Craig.

You can watch Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and License to Kill (1989).

4. Roger Moore 

The third man to hold the role of 007, Roger Moore, comes in at number four on our list, but for many, he may come in first. Moore’s humor was contagious, and injecting laughter into the serious reality of an MI6 agent allowed audiences to fall in love with the Bond franchise in a whole new way.

Often, Moore’s Bond films were not just considered thrillers, but even comedies, and fans of the films were able to interact with the character from a new perspective, knowing James Bond was not just someone to admire or fear, but to joke with as well.

You can watch Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973), 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 Kill (1985).

3. Pierce Brosnan 

Pierce Brosnan’s casting as James Bond was perfect between his suave persona on screen, wistful emotion, and iconic deliverance of the phrase “Bond, James Bond.” He was the first actor cast for the role who grew up as a fan of the series, and his expertise on the franchise brought a familiarity to the character the audience immediately responded well to.

Brosnan held the role of Bond from 1995 to 2004 on the big screen, and lent his voice and likeness to six James Bond-themed video games.

You can watch Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), and Die Another Day (2002).

2. Daniel Craig 

This month, the world said goodbye to the James Bond of the era – Daniel Craig – who comes in at the number two spot in our rankings.

Rounding out his tenure as 007 in No Time To Die, Craig’s fifth appearance in the franchise debuted at the box office to the tune of $56 million, making it the number one film in North America. For the first time in the Bond film franchise, James Bond himself dies, leaving behind the love of his life, ​​Madeleine Swann, and their daughter Mathilde. No Time to Die marked an end to Craig’s 15-year journey as James Bond – the longest stretch any actor has held the position uninterrupted, and was unique given the viewer was able to see the entirety of Bond’s career working as an MI6 agent throughout the storyline.

Craig’s interpretation of the role evolved the persona of 007 in unexpected ways, delivering a depth of character unexpected by the audience. Growing from novice agent filled with insecurities and driven by a short temper into the man who selflessly risks his own life to protect those he loves, viewers get to know the man within the perfectly tailored suit who’s driving the epic car.

Saying farewell to Craig’s tenure as 007 is tough for lovers of the Bond franchise, and he leaves behind almost impossibly big shoes to fill for whoever is cast next.

You can watch Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015), and No Time to Die (2021).

1. Sean Connery 

The names Sean Connery and James Bond are forever linked, making Connery’s performance the most iconic interpretation of 007. Beginning his tenure as Bond in May 1963 with Dr. No, the world was captivated by this (at the time) relatively little-known actor bringing Ian Fleming’s character off the page and onto the big screen.

Incredibly, another actor was chosen to fill the role at first – Cary Grant – but at 58 years old, Grant refused to commit to a series of films, and would instead star only in Dr. No. Knowing they envisioned a cinematic franchise, the producers for the film, Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, were forced to go another direction.

Connery’s voice, distinctive drink order of a vodka martini “shaken, not stirred,” and raw masculinity cemented the impact of James Bond as a character in the hearts of movie buffs worldwide, and his appearance in seven Bond films thrust him into international stardom.

Connery died a legend, and one of the most recognizable names and faces in the world, last October.

You can watch Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No (1963), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Never Say Never Again (1983).

Bond. James Bond.

What’s Next for 007?

As Daniel Craig’s Bond has now been killed off and his tenure as the character has finished, there’s been international chatter about what comes next for 007. No Time to Die suggested that the code “007” could be transitioned to a woman, showcasing Nomi, played by Lashana Lynch, before being returned to Bond by the end of the film.

Some have been pushing for a female Bond, with Vogue even running a story entitled “It’s Bond, Jane Bond: 11 Women Who Would Make a Killer 007,” and Britain’s leader of the Labor Party, Keir Starmer, saying Bond should be a woman.

However, the latest Bond, Daniel Craig himself, disagreesasking Radio Times, “Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”

Closing Thoughts

Time will tell who will fill Craig’s empty shoes for 007 – and even if it will be a man to begin with – but one thing’s for sure, global love of Ian Fleming’s classic story is sure to stick around for generations to come.

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