James Bond Actors Through The Years

James Bond Actors Through The Years

James Bond a pop culture icon born out of Ian Fleming’s spy novels and introduced to movie fans in 1962 with the release of the first 007 film, Dr No. Sean Connery, the first actor to play James Bond, embodied the role of the spy who thwarts international baddies in service to Her Majesty. He starred in seven James Bond films and passed the keys to the Aston Martin to Australian actor/model George Lazenby followed by other actors who played the role including Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Here is a look at some of these iconic actors who have portrayed 007 on the big screen through the years.


SEAN CONNERY 1962-1967

I have always hated that damned James Bond. I’d like to kill him.” – Sean Connery


In 1962, Eon producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman brought James Bond to the big screen with Dr No, based on Ian Fleming’s 1958 novel. With Sean Connery’s unique style, exotic locations and the spectacular supporting cast, Dr No became an instant success which spawned the James Bond film series. Sean Connery went on to play James Bond in further four movies in From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, before temporarily retiring from the role.

GEORGE LAZENBY 1969

I look back and think, ‘How did that happen?’ I had no idea where I was going when I got into the Bond film. When I became famous I didn’t know how to handle it, so it almost drove me crazy. In retrospect you can only blame yourself. I’d loved to have had that time over again and done another one or two [Bond films], it would have worked out great for me.” – George Lazenby


Following Sean Connery’s departure from the series in 1967, the producers began searching for a new actor to play James Bond. They found Australian model George Lazenby, who at the time was the highest paid model in the world. During production, George’s manager advised him against accepting a multi-movie contract, as he believed that the James Bond movies would lose their popularity, How wrong he was. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was George Lazenby’s first and only appearance in the series, although years later, he played James Bond-like characters in several TV spoofs.

SEAN CONNERY 1971


With George Lazenby retiring from the title role after filming On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the producers became desperate to find a new actor to play James Bond, as they had already sold part of the new film’s proceeds to investors. The head of United Artists told them to bring back Sean Connery at any cost. Sean eventually agreed to do one last film, getting paid a $1.25m base salary plus an estimated 12.5% of the profits. Sean Connery’s performance in Diamonds Are Forever was as good as his previous Bonds, and the film was an enjoyable success. However, it would be the last time that he worked for Eon Productions. Sean Connery donated his entire base salary to a Scottish education charity.

ROGER MOORE 1973-1985

My personality is entirely different than previous Bonds. I’m not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs.” – Roger Moore


Following Diamonds Are Forever, the hunt for a new James Bond began again. Roger Moore was at the top of the list of candidates, and luckily for him, his TV show The Persuaders which co-starred Tony Curtis, wasn’t renewed for a second series. This meant that Roger was free for the role, and he became the next James Bond in Live and Let Die. Roger Moore played the role with a sophisticated but slightly comical edge, and went on to play the title role in The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill. With seven movies under his belt, he currently holds the record for playing the character James Bond the most in the official Eon Produced films (he would hold the record jointly with Sean Connery had Never Say Never Again been counted as an official release).

SEAN CONNERY 1983


In the late 1950s, Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham created a screenplay for a possible James Bond film or TV series. However, after another of McClory’s films – The Boy and the Bridge – had bombed at the box office, the idea was scrapped. Ian Fleming didn’t throw away the drafts though and used some of the ideas in his next novel Thunderball. Ian Fleming was sued by Kevin McClory, who won the rights to make a film adaption of Thunderball. He made a deal with Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to make the film, for which he got a credit as producer. Kevin was obviously unsatisfied with the film because, with the help of producer Jack Schwartzman, he remade it 18 years later. Never Say Never Again was Sean Connery’s last film role as James Bond, and is considered to be his worst film as 007.


TIMOTHY DALTON 1987-1989

You can’t relate to a superhero, to a superman, but you can identify with a real man who in times of crisis draws forth some extraordinary quality from within himself and triumphs but only after a struggle. Real courage is knowing what faces you and knowing how to face it.” – Timothy Dalton


When Roger Moore retired from the role of James Bond following his seven films with Eon Production, the hunt for a new actor to play James Bond was on. They found Welsh stage and screen actor Timothy Dalton, who became James Bond in The Living Daylights in 1987, and Licence to Kill in 1989. His breathtaking and deep portrayal of 007 is highly regarded among Bond fans and is considered very close to the character in Ian Fleming’s novels. Timothy was going to continue the role, but in April 1994, after a five-year gap due to legal reasons, he officially left.


PIERCE BROSNAN 1995-2002

It never felt real to me. I never felt I had complete ownership over Bond. Because you’d have these stupid one-liners – which I loathed – and I always felt phony doing them. I’d look at myself in the suit and tie and think, ‘What the heck am I doing here?’ Such sentiments were nothing new. That was always the frustrating thing about the role.” – Pierce Brosnan


In 1986, after his TV series Remington Steele had ended, Pierce Brosnan was asked to play the role of James Bond. When the news broke out, and because of the strong publicity, Remington Steele was renewed and brought back to TV. Pierce Brosnan couldn’t play both roles at the same time, so Timothy Dalton was brought in to play Bond. Pierce was given another opportunity in 1995 and this time it was a success. He went on to play James Bond four times in Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day.


DANIEL CRAIG 2006-PRESENT

One of the things I was criticised for was that I looked like a bad guy, but I was happy with that because I think true good guys have to step into the dark side to do their job. I wanted people to question Bond’s morals and his judgment.” – Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig Profile PictureAfter a four year gap, James Bond returned with Daniel Craig in 2006 with the release of Casino Royale. It was the first film to use an original Ian Fleming title since 1987’s The Living Daylights.

There were mixed feelings about Daniel Craig before the film was released. Some people even went as far as creating websites and petitions against the “blond bond”. However, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all came forward to give their support. On Casino Royale’s release, the negativity all went away, and with the film a huge success, Daniel Craig turned out to be a popular and worthy James Bond.

Daniel returned for his second outing as Bond in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, which was one of the highest grossing Bond films in America to date. After a four year gap enforced by the long bankruptcy settlements of MGM, Craig returned for Skyfall. Skyfall was released in October 2012, the year of Bond’s 50th anniversary in film, and went on to become the highest grossing Bond film of all time. Inflation adjusted, Thunderball had held that title for 47 years prior to Skyfall’s release.

Daniel Craig & Queen PictureOn July 27th, 2012, Daniel appeared alongside the Queen in a short film titled Happy and Glorious. Directed by Danny Boyle, the film was the highlight of the Olympic opening ceremony. It was actually the Queen’s first ever acting role, a joint celebration of 007’s 50th anniversary in film, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Daniel Craig returned to his fourth film as James Bond with the release of Spectre in 2015. Spectre grossed over a total of $880m worldwide, the second largest unadjusted income for the series after its predecessor Skyfall.

Bond 25 will be the 25th film in the James Bond film series and is scheduled to be released on 8th November 2019. Daniel Craig is under contract to return as James Bond, however, there has been no official confirmation he will return and could resign from the role if it is mutually agreed between himself and the film’s producers.


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