James Bond actors in order: The complete history of 007 stars
From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig - we take a look at all the actors to have played the iconic double agent.
With Daniel Craig’s final Double-O outing in No Time to Die having come and gone, we’re left wondering who will be the next James Bond - but until then, we can look back to the past at all the James Bond actors in order to see how the role has evolved over the decades.
It may be some time before the likes of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Regé-Jean Page, Idris Elba or James Norton grace this page - whoever the next Bond may be - but there is already a rich tapestry to unweave.
On that note, we’ve even done our due diligence and included David Niven and his brief stint as the very silly Bond in 1967’s Casino Royale for propensity’s sake.
We’ll also risk the wrath of our dear readers and rank who we think played Bond best, but we don’t think our selection will prove too controversial. We won’t blame you if you think it makes us the best Bond villain, though.
James Bond actors in order
If you just want a quick refresher on who played Mr Bond over the decades, then we have a bulleted list just for you.
- Sean Connery – 1962 - 1967, 1971, 1983
- David Niven – 1967
- George Lazenby – 1969
- Roger Moore – 1973 - 1985
- Timothy Dalton – 1987 - 1989
- Pierce Brosnan – 1995 - 2002
- Daniel Craig – 2006 - 2021
If that didn't quite whet your appetite, then read on for more detailed entries on each of the Bond actors, the films they were in and some of the behind-the-scenes facts as to how and why the iconic role was cast.
Sean Connery (1962–1967, 1971 and 1983)
Films: Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever, Never Say Never Again (Non-EON production)
Connery played the character on a total of seven occasions, including the first five Bond films. After he passed on appearing in film number six - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - he then returned in 1971's Diamonds are Forever, before reprising the role one last time for the non-official film Never Say Never Again.
Interestingly, the choice of Connery was initially not supported by Bond author Ian Fleming, who believed he didn't possess the elegance required for the role, and indeed Connery's portrayal of the character does differ somewhat from that in the books, playing up his promiscuity and adding a certain degree of cold-bloodedness.
Connery died at the age of 90 on 31st October 2020.
David Niven (1967)
Films: Casino Royale (Non-EON production)
Bonus mention for David Niven – although he did play Bond in 1967's Casino Royale, he is not considered an official big-screen 007, since that film was not produced by EON Productions.
Interestingly, Niven had been Ian Fleming's first choice for the role before Connery was cast, with the author considering him a closer match for the character.
In his only appearance, Niven was 56, and his portrayal was that of an older Bond - one who had won a Victoria Cross, was settled down with a child and enjoyed playing the piano.
George Lazenby (1969)
Films: On Her Majesty's Secret Service
By far the shortest-lived official Bond, George Lazenby lasted just one film - On His Majesty's Secret Service - in the role, before Connery returned for Diamonds are Forever.
Lazenby was relatively unknown when he took on the character, and although his performance has often come in for criticism, he nonetheless won praise in some quarters at the time - including a nomination at the Golden Globe Awards for New Star of the Year.
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He was reportedly talked out of appearing in future films after his agent warned that the image of the secret agent would fall out of fashion in the '70s - he may well have regretted that decision!
Roger Moore (1973-1985)
Films: Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill
Daniel Craig might have overtaken Moore as the longest-serving Bond in terms of timespan, but when it comes to the number of official films, Moore is still number one.
Before taking on the role, Moore was best known for his work on the small screen - with notable roles in The Saint and The Persuaders, both shows in which he played parts with certain similarities to Bond.
Moore's Bond is considered more light-hearted than the iterations that came before, with a touch more humour injected into the films while he was the star, and he's also often been described as the most elegant Bond.
The actor also incorporated some of his own tastes and fashions into his portrayal of the character - including his use of Cuban cigars as opposed to cigarettes, and his penchant for wearing safari suits.
Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)
Films: The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill
Dalton was cast as Bond shortly after Moore's retirement, and despite going on to appear in only two films, he remains a popular 007 - recently coming second in our aforementioned poll after bagging 32 per cent of the vote.
After the more light-hearted version of Bond that had appeared in the previous seven films, Dalton's portrayal saw a shift back towards more serious-minded fare, with his 007 more stern and cold, considered a closer representation of the character as originally written by Fleming.
Dalton might have appeared in a third film if not for a legal dispute regarding the licensing of the Bond catalogue, which pushed the next film back until 1994 - a year after his contract expired.
Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002)
Films: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day
Brosnan had originally auditioned for the role back in 1986 before Dalton was cast, and eventually landed the role in 1994 prior to making his first appearance in GoldenEye a year later.
His portrayal of the character blended some of the aspects seen in both Connery's Bond and Moore's Bond - he was suave, witty and rather more light-hearted, with his tenure seeing a lot more jokes than Dalton's, but he also often displayed the old-fashioned grit and machismo that had been associated with the character over the years.
Brosnan's Bond is also well-known for being chastised by M in GoldenEye as being a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur" - a sign of the change in attitudes from the Connery era. Brosnan had wished to appear in a fifth film, but after negotiations stalled, he stood down in 2004.
Daniel Craig (2006-2021)
Films: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, No Time to Die
Most recent 007 Daniel Craig made his first appearance as the double-0 agent in 2006's Casino Royale - which was considered by many fans and critics the best Bond film for some time, and immediately pointed to a move back to more gritty material.
Prior to his first appearance, some fans had criticised the casting choice given Craig's appearance, which wasn't considered a close match for Bond due to his hair colour, eye colour and height - while it was also suggested he lacked the suaveness of the character.
However, after Casino Royale was released, Craig won over most of his critics - and although the quality of films has varied since, he is now considered by many to be a top-tier Bond.
Craig initially hinted that he was ready to step down after Spectre - but decided to return for one last film, making him the longest-serving Bond of all time.
Best James Bond actors ranked
While we posed the question of who is the best Bond to our readers in a the poll mentioned above, we've donned our critic hat to mull it over ourselves, too. While we don't think any of the actors were bad, per se, here is who we think did it best.
- Daniel Craig
- Sean Connery
- Timothy Dalton
- Pierce Brosnan
- Roger Moore
- George Lazenby
- David Niven
Sacrilegious? We think Craig has afforded Bond the most depth out of the bunch, grounded the series and fashioned him into a character that respects the progress society has made since Fleming first penned Casino Royale in 1952.
Who could ever forget the opening to Craig's debut involving Bond, an unfortunate baddie and a sink? It certainly set the tone for what was to come.
Which actor played Bond for the longest?
In terms of timespan, Daniel Craig is the longest-serving Bond of all time, with 15 years passing between his debut in Casino Royale (2006) and his swan song in No Time To Die (2021).
But both Sean Connery and Roger Moore actually played the character in more films than Craig. Connery appeared in six official movies (not including the non-Eon production Never Say Never Again). while Moore still holds the record for starring in the most, with seven films in a twelve-year stretch between 1973 and 1985.
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