All the Stars from Connery to Craig
Author Ian Fleming published his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1953. The first Bond movie followed in 1962: Dr. No, starring a lean Sean Connery as the secret agent. In the five decades since, a lot of great actors have played James Bond. Here’s the roll call.
SEAN CONNERY was the original movie Bond and played the secret agent in the first five films: Dr. No (1962, with Ursula Andress — seen here), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967).
Connery was so good that it appeared he might be permanently typecast as Bond, but in 1967 he decided he’d had enough and quit the role. In later years he relented and took the role twice more: in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and then romancing Kim Basinger as a decidedly older Bond in Never Say Never Again (1983).
Sean Connery’s departure in 1967 led to a high-profile search for a new James Bond. The winner was Australian model GEORGE LAZENBY, a novice who played Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). No one was quite satisfied with Lazenby as 007, and the movie became his first and last appearance as Bond. The producers begged Sean Connery to return, and he did come back for one more film, Diamonds Are Forever. Lazenby made a personal comeback of his own in the year 2002, marrying tennis star Pam Shriver.
ROGER MOORE took over as James Bond for Live and Let Die (1973, with a famous theme song by Paul McCartney). Where Sean Connery had been darkly fierce, Moore was blue-eyed and suave. (He had already played a kindred spirit to Bond, the adventurer-for-hire Simon Templar, in the TV series The Saint.) Roger Moore tied Connery with seven appearances as Bond, starring in The Man With the Golden Gun (1974, with Christopher Lee), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), and finally A View To a Kill, released in 1985 when Moore was 58.
After Roger Moore’s long run, TIMOTHY DALTON became James Bond for two films: The Living Daylights (1987) and License to Kill (1989). Timothy Dalton was a tougher Bond, showing a cruel side which is clear in the novels but was soft-pedalled during the Moore era. Dalton’s Welsh roots made him the fourth nationality to play Bond: Sean Connery was a Scot, George Lazenby Australian, and Moore was born in London.
PIERCE BROSNAN, born in Ireland, became the fifth movie Bond. Financial troubles for MGM Studios and legal wrangles had resulted in a six-year Bond movie hiatus and the eventual departure of Dalton. Brosnan played 007 in Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and The World Is Not Enough (1999). Brosnan’s fourth film as Bond, Die Another Day, was released in 2002 and co-starred Halle Berry.
DANIEL CRAIG became the sixth movie Bond in the 2006 film Casino Royale. The movie was a modernized version of the original James Bond novel, and Craig represented a return to the basics of a younger, tougher bond. (At age 38, he was the first man under 40 to play Bond since George Lazenby.) Daniel Craig is blonde and blue-eyed, which earned him initial resistance from fans of a traditional darkly-handsome Bond. He is from England, like Roger Moore, making Craig the first Bond actor not from a fresh country: previous Bond actors were born in Scotland (Connery), Australia (Lazenby), England (Moore), Wales (Dalton), and Ireland (Brosnan).
Surprise! The 1967 spoof Casino Royale starred DAVID NIVEN as a comically prim James Bond who has long since retired and been replaced by a series of impostors. Forced out of retirement, Niven recruits yet another impostor, Peter Sellers. (A multiplicity of 007s is one of the film’s running jokes.) The movie also stars, improbably, Woody Allen as Bond’s nephew “Jimmy” Bond. The movie became one of Hollywood’s strangest and silliest spoofs.
So much for the actors. Now see the…
(Casino Royale cover image via The Illustrated 007)