For the last 15 years, Daniel Craig has been the face of James Bond – but after five films as the iconic 00 agent the popular actor is finally stepping down from the role
With his final film No Time To Die now showing in UK cinemas, attention will soon turn to who will play 007 next, with no shortage of names having been bandied about in recent months, from Outlander’s Sam Heughan to Bridgerton’s Rege-Jean Page.
Whoever does take on the role will join a limited club of stellar actors to have played the part, from James Bond legend Sean Connery, who sadly died aged 90 last year, all the way through to Craig.
Read on for everything you need to know about all the actors who have taken on the role over the years in the order of their appearance.
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)
Sean Connery was the very first actor to play James Bond, and is still considered by many as the best 007. Indeed the Scot topped a recent RadioTimes.com poll to determine the public’s favourite Bond.
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, who had won a Victoria Cross, was settled down with a child and enjoyed playing the piano.
George Lazenby (1969)
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Films: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
By far the shortest-lived 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 role, and although his performance has often come in for criticism, he nonetheless won praise in some quarters at the time – including a nomination for Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.
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)
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
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)
Keith Hamshere / Getty Images
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)
MGM / UA
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.
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Which actor played Bond for the longest?
In terms of time span, 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.