James Bond: Nobody Does It Better

No Time To Die will be the 25th Bond film and Daniel Craig’s final spin as 007, an ideal moment then to hit pause and consider one of life’s bigger questions: who really is the very best Bond? 

Join in as SPYSCAPE unravels the secrets behind the success of the six* actors who made Ian Fleming’s 00-classified assassin leap from the page to the screen.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale
Daniel Craig stars as 007 in Casino Royale

Daniel Craig (born Chester, England, 1968)

Number of times playing Bond: Five 

Films: Casino Royale (2006); Quantum of Solace (2008); Skyfall (2012); Spectre (2015); and No Time to Die (2021)

Memorable lines: The main reason Craig accepted the role in Casino Royale came down to a line in the script,

Bond:
A vodka martini, please.

Bartender: Shaken or stirred?

Bond: Do I look like I give a f***?

“And that’s it. That’s the reason I did it,” Craig told Empire. “Because what I could not do, and what I refused to do, was repeat what had gone before.”

(The obscenity was actually changed during filming.)

Signature touches:

Craig recognized Bond needed a reboot and ditched the chauvinism. He also paid attention to the detail, spending weeks getting his suit tailoring just right and threw himself into the stunts. Craig’s 007 was tougher and more rugged than previous Bonds, but he was also more vulnerable at times.

Let’s not discount Craig’s skimpy blue swimming trunks in Casino Royale either. Craig claimed it was just an accident. He didn’t really mean to emerge from the sea like Ursula Andress in Dr No, or Halle Berry in Die Another Day. Craig said he swam into a sand bank in the Bahamas, stood up and it was just one of those things, although he did think of Andress at the time: "As I did it, I went, 'Oh f***'. But I didn't realize the repercussions of it … I had no idea I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life."

 

Pierce Brosnan starring as James Bond
Pierce Brosnan portrayed 007 in four films

Pierce Brosnan (born 1953, Drogheda, Ireland) 

Number of times playing Bond: Four

Films: GoldenEye (1995); Tomorrow Never Dies (1997); The World Is Not Enough (1999); and Die Another Day (2002).

Memorable Line: 

In a scene from GoldenEye, Q gives Bond instructions on the latest spy gadgets, including an exploding pen grenade that blows a dummy to bits.

Q
: Don’t say it!

Bond: The writing’s on the wall?

Signature touch:

Brosnan's breezy-but-deadly Bond lived in an era of action heroes so he may be forgiven for notching up the most kills of any Bond (135 in four films compared to Roger Moore's 90).

Brosnan brought an air of sophistication to the role. He initially turned down the offer to play 007 because of a commitment to star in the US comedy-drama Remington Steele. Brosnan’s magnetism was so strong he was offered the role a second time. As the internet legend goes, producers were so impressed with the way Brosnan wore a tuxedo they added in a contract clause prohibiting Brosnan from wearing a tuxedo in any other film.

 

Timothy Dalton starring as James Bond
Timothy Dalton stepped aside after two Bond movies

Timothy Dalton (born 1946, Colwyn Bay, Wales)

Number of times playing Bond: Two

Films: The Living Daylights (1987) and License to Kill (1989)

Memorable Line:

Q:
Now wear that. Right. Now, whistle the first bars of Rule, Britannia!

[Bond whistles]

Q: Stun gas! Effective range about five feet. Disorientates any normal person for about, oh, 30 seconds.

Bond: You don't find too many normal people in this business Q. How do I blow up the room? Whistle God Save the Queen?

Signature touch:

Timothy Dalton was the understated, broody Bond, a return to a grittier 007 who is more aligned with Fleming's character in the novels. He was also less of a cliché, more of a 21st century Bond than a Cold War throwback. Dalton’s Bond had a no-nonsense approach to his job and women. He also had a tremendous physicality that he used to his advantage.

Dalton was supposed to star in GoldenEye but the film was delayed five years for legal reasons and Dalton lost his appetite for the character. As Dalton recalled in The Week, producer Albert R. Broccoli said "'Look, Tim. You can't do one. There's no way, after a five-year gap between movies, that you can come back and just do one. You'd have to plan on four or five.'" Dalton stepped aside at that point, opening the door for Pierce Brosnan. 

 

Roger Moore as James Bond
Roger Moore starred in seven Bond films

Roger Moore (1927 - 2017, born London, England)

Number of times playing Bond: Seven 

Films: 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).

Memorable Line:

A one-liner was never far from Roger Moore’s lips and sexual innuendo was part and parcel of the culture in an age where Bond ‘girls’ had names like Dr Holly Goodhead and Bibi Dahl. Moore’s Bond reflected that: 

Britain’s minister of defense (after catching Bond having sex): Bond, what do you think you’re doing?

Bond: Keeping the British end up, sir. 

Signature touch:

Moore seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself in the role and his charisma made his 007 irresistible. HIs risqué and flippant double entendres were a guilty pleasure in a serious era that included the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Watergate and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Moore was apprehensive about taking over from Sean Connery, confessing that when he first saw the script he read his lines in a Scottish accent. It took Moore time to find his footing. One of his more memorable love scenes was with actress Gloria Hendry, the first black 'Bond girl' who played CIA agent Rosie Carver in Live and Let Die. Moore said his wife had only one concern: she worried he'd enjoy his work too much.

 

George Lazenby as James Bond in On His Majesty's Secret Service
George Lazenby starred in On Her Majesty's Secret Service


George Lazenby
(born 1939, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia) 

Number of times playing Bond: One

Film: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Memorable lines:

Lazenby was following in Connery’s sizeable footsteps when he broke the fourth wall during On Her Majesty's Secret Service saying: “This never happened to the other fellow.” 

Signature touch: Lazenby, the only Bond to fall in love and marry, brought an emotional edge to the character, making audiences genuinely care about his relationship with Tracy Bond (Diana Rigg). Lazenby revealed in 2017 that he wasn’t allowed to shed a tear at Tracy Bond’s death, however. “I had to do a take without, as Peter Hunt (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service director) said James Bond doesn't cry.” 

Lazenby was nominated for a Golden Globe for his one-and-only 007 film – quite an accomplishment for a former model who’d only previously appeared in television commercials and had a bit part in an Italian spoof film about Bond’s brother (starring, incidentally, Sean Connery’s real-life younger brother Neil Connery).

 

Sean Connery stars as James Bond in Dr No
Sean Connery starred in seven Bond films including his first, Dr No

Sean Connery (1930 - 2020, born Edinburgh, Scotland) 

Number of times playing Bond: Seven

Films: Dr No (1962); From Russia With Love (1963); Goldfinger (1964); Thunderball (1965); You Only Live Twice (1967); Diamonds Are Forever (1971); and Never Say Never Again (1983).

Memorable lines:

Connery had us hooked with his introduction as “Bond, James Bond” in Dr No, but he also delivered many witty lines during his 11 years as 007, including several Connery wrote himself. During the filming of Dr No, for example, it was Connery who suggested Bond should calmly inform a gun-wielding assassin that he was out of bullets: That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six’.”

Signature touch: 

Connery moved like a jungle cat and his sex appeal was undeniable but the actor wanted to help shape Bond’s character. Connery sat down with Fleming to discuss 007’s sense of humor before Dr No and suggested they make the dark side of the assassin more palatable. “They [the audience] could acknowledge and accept the violence if it had a humorous quality,” Connery explained in a 1967 interview.

Director Terence Young gave Connery leeway to add his own witticisms to scripts, although at least one line was nicked. In You Only Live Twice, Bond is seduced by a beautiful woman linked to Spectre and sighs: “The things I do for England.” Connery admitted the line was taken from actor Charles Laughton in the 1933 film The Private Life of Henry VIII.

*Footnotes

Two other actors have played Bond on screen, footnotes in the storied history of 007.

i) David Niven (1910 - 1983, born London, England)

Number of times playing Bond: One

Film: Casino Royale (1967), spy parody 

Memorable lines

Mata Bond (007’s estranged daughter): Oh, Daddy, I do so long to meet him. All the girls do. He really turns me on!

Sir James: Did that finishing school teach you to talk like that?

Mata Bond: No, I taught them. Oh, do be a pet, Daddy.

Sir James: Be a good girl, do run along and watch the changing of the guard.

Mata Bond: I bet Mummy would have taken me in.

Sir James: Mummy took everyone in.

Signature Touch:
Fleming thought Niven was the perfect comedic actor to play a send up of Connery’s Bond (there are several 007s in the 1967 satire Casino Royale, including Peter Sellers’ Bond). Sir James Bond is forced out of retirement to battle the evil Dr Noah. Niven’s gift for comedy guaranteed box office success but the critics moaned. In Roger Ebert's estimation the Casino Royale parody was a ''definitive example of what can happen when everybody working on a film goes simultaneously berserk".

ii) Barry Nelson (1954 - 2007, born San Francisco, California)

Number of times playing Bond: One 

TV Appearance: James ‘Jimmy’ Bond in Casino Royale for a CBS one-hour drama series Climax! which aired October 21, 1954.

Memorable line:

Leiter (Bond’s secret service contact): Aren’t you the fellow who was shot?

Bond: No, I’m the fellow who was missed.

Signature touch: Nelson is the only onscreen actor to play 007 with an American accent and the only one to play Bond live in a one-hour televised production, adding an immediacy and tension to a program that included gunshots and violence. Nelson was cast as James ‘Jimmy’ Bond’, an agent for a joint US-British secret service, and his mission was to bankrupt a Russian villain (Peter Lorre) at the baccarat table and save Bond’s former lover (Linda Christian). CBS asked Fleming to write more ‘Jimmy’ Bond TV episodes but nothing came of it (or of another Fleming TV project that would have followed ‘James Gunn’ on his adventures in the Caribbean). As a result, Nelson had only one outing as the American Bond.

James Bond: Nobody Does It Better

BY
SPYSCAPE
1
MINUTE READ
Twitter
@SPYSCAPE
Share
Facebook
Twitter

No Time To Die will be the 25th Bond film and Daniel Craig’s final spin as 007, an ideal moment then to hit pause and consider one of life’s bigger questions: who really is the very best Bond? 

Join in as SPYSCAPE unravels the secrets behind the success of the six* actors who made Ian Fleming’s 00-classified assassin leap from the page to the screen.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale
Daniel Craig stars as 007 in Casino Royale

Daniel Craig (born Chester, England, 1968)

Number of times playing Bond: Five 

Films: Casino Royale (2006); Quantum of Solace (2008); Skyfall (2012); Spectre (2015); and No Time to Die (2021)

Memorable lines: The main reason Craig accepted the role in Casino Royale came down to a line in the script,

Bond:
A vodka martini, please.

Bartender: Shaken or stirred?

Bond: Do I look like I give a f***?

“And that’s it. That’s the reason I did it,” Craig told Empire. “Because what I could not do, and what I refused to do, was repeat what had gone before.”

(The obscenity was actually changed during filming.)

Signature touches:

Craig recognized Bond needed a reboot and ditched the chauvinism. He also paid attention to the detail, spending weeks getting his suit tailoring just right and threw himself into the stunts. Craig’s 007 was tougher and more rugged than previous Bonds, but he was also more vulnerable at times.

Let’s not discount Craig’s skimpy blue swimming trunks in Casino Royale either. Craig claimed it was just an accident. He didn’t really mean to emerge from the sea like Ursula Andress in Dr No, or Halle Berry in Die Another Day. Craig said he swam into a sand bank in the Bahamas, stood up and it was just one of those things, although he did think of Andress at the time: "As I did it, I went, 'Oh f***'. But I didn't realize the repercussions of it … I had no idea I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life."

 

Pierce Brosnan starring as James Bond
Pierce Brosnan portrayed 007 in four films

Pierce Brosnan (born 1953, Drogheda, Ireland) 

Number of times playing Bond: Four

Films: GoldenEye (1995); Tomorrow Never Dies (1997); The World Is Not Enough (1999); and Die Another Day (2002).

Memorable Line: 

In a scene from GoldenEye, Q gives Bond instructions on the latest spy gadgets, including an exploding pen grenade that blows a dummy to bits.

Q
: Don’t say it!

Bond: The writing’s on the wall?

Signature touch:

Brosnan's breezy-but-deadly Bond lived in an era of action heroes so he may be forgiven for notching up the most kills of any Bond (135 in four films compared to Roger Moore's 90).

Brosnan brought an air of sophistication to the role. He initially turned down the offer to play 007 because of a commitment to star in the US comedy-drama Remington Steele. Brosnan’s magnetism was so strong he was offered the role a second time. As the internet legend goes, producers were so impressed with the way Brosnan wore a tuxedo they added in a contract clause prohibiting Brosnan from wearing a tuxedo in any other film.

 

Timothy Dalton starring as James Bond
Timothy Dalton stepped aside after two Bond movies

Timothy Dalton (born 1946, Colwyn Bay, Wales)

Number of times playing Bond: Two

Films: The Living Daylights (1987) and License to Kill (1989)

Memorable Line:

Q:
Now wear that. Right. Now, whistle the first bars of Rule, Britannia!

[Bond whistles]

Q: Stun gas! Effective range about five feet. Disorientates any normal person for about, oh, 30 seconds.

Bond: You don't find too many normal people in this business Q. How do I blow up the room? Whistle God Save the Queen?

Signature touch:

Timothy Dalton was the understated, broody Bond, a return to a grittier 007 who is more aligned with Fleming's character in the novels. He was also less of a cliché, more of a 21st century Bond than a Cold War throwback. Dalton’s Bond had a no-nonsense approach to his job and women. He also had a tremendous physicality that he used to his advantage.

Dalton was supposed to star in GoldenEye but the film was delayed five years for legal reasons and Dalton lost his appetite for the character. As Dalton recalled in The Week, producer Albert R. Broccoli said "'Look, Tim. You can't do one. There's no way, after a five-year gap between movies, that you can come back and just do one. You'd have to plan on four or five.'" Dalton stepped aside at that point, opening the door for Pierce Brosnan. 

 

Roger Moore as James Bond
Roger Moore starred in seven Bond films

Roger Moore (1927 - 2017, born London, England)

Number of times playing Bond: Seven 

Films: 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).

Memorable Line:

A one-liner was never far from Roger Moore’s lips and sexual innuendo was part and parcel of the culture in an age where Bond ‘girls’ had names like Dr Holly Goodhead and Bibi Dahl. Moore’s Bond reflected that: 

Britain’s minister of defense (after catching Bond having sex): Bond, what do you think you’re doing?

Bond: Keeping the British end up, sir. 

Signature touch:

Moore seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself in the role and his charisma made his 007 irresistible. HIs risqué and flippant double entendres were a guilty pleasure in a serious era that included the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Watergate and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Moore was apprehensive about taking over from Sean Connery, confessing that when he first saw the script he read his lines in a Scottish accent. It took Moore time to find his footing. One of his more memorable love scenes was with actress Gloria Hendry, the first black 'Bond girl' who played CIA agent Rosie Carver in Live and Let Die. Moore said his wife had only one concern: she worried he'd enjoy his work too much.

 

George Lazenby as James Bond in On His Majesty's Secret Service
George Lazenby starred in On Her Majesty's Secret Service


George Lazenby
(born 1939, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia) 

Number of times playing Bond: One

Film: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Memorable lines:

Lazenby was following in Connery’s sizeable footsteps when he broke the fourth wall during On Her Majesty's Secret Service saying: “This never happened to the other fellow.” 

Signature touch: Lazenby, the only Bond to fall in love and marry, brought an emotional edge to the character, making audiences genuinely care about his relationship with Tracy Bond (Diana Rigg). Lazenby revealed in 2017 that he wasn’t allowed to shed a tear at Tracy Bond’s death, however. “I had to do a take without, as Peter Hunt (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service director) said James Bond doesn't cry.” 

Lazenby was nominated for a Golden Globe for his one-and-only 007 film – quite an accomplishment for a former model who’d only previously appeared in television commercials and had a bit part in an Italian spoof film about Bond’s brother (starring, incidentally, Sean Connery’s real-life younger brother Neil Connery).

 

Sean Connery stars as James Bond in Dr No
Sean Connery starred in seven Bond films including his first, Dr No

Sean Connery (1930 - 2020, born Edinburgh, Scotland) 

Number of times playing Bond: Seven

Films: Dr No (1962); From Russia With Love (1963); Goldfinger (1964); Thunderball (1965); You Only Live Twice (1967); Diamonds Are Forever (1971); and Never Say Never Again (1983).

Memorable lines:

Connery had us hooked with his introduction as “Bond, James Bond” in Dr No, but he also delivered many witty lines during his 11 years as 007, including several Connery wrote himself. During the filming of Dr No, for example, it was Connery who suggested Bond should calmly inform a gun-wielding assassin that he was out of bullets: That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six’.”

Signature touch: 

Connery moved like a jungle cat and his sex appeal was undeniable but the actor wanted to help shape Bond’s character. Connery sat down with Fleming to discuss 007’s sense of humor before Dr No and suggested they make the dark side of the assassin more palatable. “They [the audience] could acknowledge and accept the violence if it had a humorous quality,” Connery explained in a 1967 interview.

Director Terence Young gave Connery leeway to add his own witticisms to scripts, although at least one line was nicked. In You Only Live Twice, Bond is seduced by a beautiful woman linked to Spectre and sighs: “The things I do for England.” Connery admitted the line was taken from actor Charles Laughton in the 1933 film The Private Life of Henry VIII.

*Footnotes

Two other actors have played Bond on screen, footnotes in the storied history of 007.

i) David Niven (1910 - 1983, born London, England)

Number of times playing Bond: One

Film: Casino Royale (1967), spy parody 

Memorable lines

Mata Bond (007’s estranged daughter): Oh, Daddy, I do so long to meet him. All the girls do. He really turns me on!

Sir James: Did that finishing school teach you to talk like that?

Mata Bond: No, I taught them. Oh, do be a pet, Daddy.

Sir James: Be a good girl, do run along and watch the changing of the guard.

Mata Bond: I bet Mummy would have taken me in.

Sir James: Mummy took everyone in.

Signature Touch:
Fleming thought Niven was the perfect comedic actor to play a send up of Connery’s Bond (there are several 007s in the 1967 satire Casino Royale, including Peter Sellers’ Bond). Sir James Bond is forced out of retirement to battle the evil Dr Noah. Niven’s gift for comedy guaranteed box office success but the critics moaned. In Roger Ebert's estimation the Casino Royale parody was a ''definitive example of what can happen when everybody working on a film goes simultaneously berserk".

ii) Barry Nelson (1954 - 2007, born San Francisco, California)

Number of times playing Bond: One 

TV Appearance: James ‘Jimmy’ Bond in Casino Royale for a CBS one-hour drama series Climax! which aired October 21, 1954.

Memorable line:

Leiter (Bond’s secret service contact): Aren’t you the fellow who was shot?

Bond: No, I’m the fellow who was missed.

Signature touch: Nelson is the only onscreen actor to play 007 with an American accent and the only one to play Bond live in a one-hour televised production, adding an immediacy and tension to a program that included gunshots and violence. Nelson was cast as James ‘Jimmy’ Bond’, an agent for a joint US-British secret service, and his mission was to bankrupt a Russian villain (Peter Lorre) at the baccarat table and save Bond’s former lover (Linda Christian). CBS asked Fleming to write more ‘Jimmy’ Bond TV episodes but nothing came of it (or of another Fleming TV project that would have followed ‘James Gunn’ on his adventures in the Caribbean). As a result, Nelson had only one outing as the American Bond.

Read mORE

Gadgets & Gifts

Put your spy skills to work with these fabulous choices from secret notepads & invisible inks to Hacker hoodies & high-tech handbags. We also have an exceptional range of rare spy books, including many signed first editions.

Shop Now

Your Spy SKILLS

We all have valuable spy skills - your mission is to discover yours. See if you have what it takes to be a secret agent, with our authentic spy skills evaluation* developed by a former Head of Training at British Intelligence. It's FREE so share & compare with friends now!

dISCOVER Your Spy SKILLS

* Find more information about the scientific methods behind the evaluation here.