Is Daniel Craig is the best James Bond? Analyzing the best Bond’s in history?
Since the first Bond film came out in 1962, six actors have portrayed the iconic James Bond. That first actor to strap on 007’s iconic Walther PPK was Sean Connery, who is still arguably, the best Bond ever. Each actor has brought their own thing to the character in terms of who he is and the type of film he’s in.
That said, Bond films famously range on a scale of goofiness, so whether you prefer more serious Bonds like Daniel Craig or sillier James Bonds like Roger Moore is completely a matter of taste.
Of course, an objective ranking of each Bond is impossible – right?? We can lay out the best Bonds in history, their greatest triumphs (and failures), and let you decide who the best Bond is. We’re quite fond of Daniel Craig’s James Bond because he’s led some of the best Bond films to date. No Time to Die is Craig’s last outing in the role, and we’re sad to see him go.
Sean Connery, five Bond films
Sean Connery was the first, and many still declare he’s the most iconic actor to portray James Bond. He starred in Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967). The role made him a huge star, and his name is still the one most closely associated with the character. He embodied the epitome of the sort of cool masculinity that was in style at the time.
It’s unclear if fans of Connery’s James Bond are perhaps blinded by nostalgia, but it’s true that no one else has quite replicated the suaveness Connery brought to Bond. “Bond, James Bond”? That’s all Connery.
George Lazenby, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
George Lazenby was actually an Australian model when he took the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). He only played Bond in one film, so he’s often considered one of the more forgettable Bonds.
Lazenby also had the misfortune of following Sean Connery, who is still considered by many to be the most iconic James Bond. There are some who have come to Lazenby’s defense today, feeling that his portrayal and the film he was in were ahead of the times. Fans of Lazenby’s portrayal wish he’d taken another stab at the character.
Roger Moore, seven (!) Bond films
Roger Moore is famous for having portrayed James Bond in more movies than any other actor. His Bond outings include 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 a Kill (1985). Moore continued to play the character until he looked too old.
Roger Moore already had a fanbase prior to being cast in the role due to his work on television. His take on Bond was famously goofy, going for jokes & camp more than the somewhat serious tone other Bonds have attempted to strike. His Bond is also known for being horrendously sexist, but then, so is the character, really.
Timothy Dalton: The Living Daylights (1987), License to Kill (1989)
While Timothy Dalton is an iconic actor, many feel that he wasn’t quite right for the role of James Bond (no surprise there, Bond fans are notoriously picky). Once they saw his films, however, the general consensus was that while Dalton made a fine Bond, the Bond films that he starred in weren’t great. That’s not to say they were terrible, but there have certainly been better (and worse) Bond films prior and since.
Pierce Brosnan, four Bond films
Pierce Brosnan had a solid run as James Bond. He brought the character to life in GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999), and Die Another Day (2002). The choice to cast Brosnan was relatively uncontroversial, as he was a handsome, charming Irish actor fans trusted to do justice to the iconic character.
Though his films aren’t viewed as favorably – often criticized for how over-the-top they are – Brosnan’s James Bond received mostly positive reviews from critics and fans. Quentin Tarantino famously wanted to make another Bond movie and keep Brosnan in the titular role. While his era of Bond is well-known, the movies themselves (and their special effects) haven’t aged well for many viewers.
Daniel Craig, five Bond films
When Daniel Craig was cast as James Bond, the internet exploded with negativity. Despite being a white British guy, people were picking the actor apart. His blonde hair became a problem, as did his height for some. Luckily, the studio ignored these (rather silly) complaints, and Craig has starred in five Bond films: Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015), and No Time to Die (2021).
Daniel Craig’s take on Bond came during a time when studios were interested in taking campy properties and making them “gritty” (think Batman). This approach is starting to wear out its welcome, but when Craig took the role, it was a much-needed fresh take on the character. Casino Royale and Skyfall are considered two of the best Bond films of all time.
Which Bond actor is your favorite? Do you prefer Connery’s iconic original, Lazenby’s underrated take, Moore’s campy humor, Brosnan’s over-the-top action, or Daniel Craig’s more grounded performance? Drop your ranking in the comments!