Every actor who has played James Bond is great in his own way.
1. Sean Connery
The original James Bond. He managed to perfectly establish the full range of characteristics which we think of as part and parcel of Bond’s personality- the danger, the charisma, the humour, the screen presence. He delivers consistently excellent performances in DN, FRWL, GF and TB, and while his contributions aren’t quite as up to par in YOLT and DAF, he still has fine moments in both films. Ultimately, the most iconic Bond- and with good reason.
2. Pierce Brosnan
A controversial second choice, I admit, but there’s a particularly refined quality to Brosnan’s Bond that sometimes feels as if his go-to acting choice as Bond is to blend together the strongest attributes of his predecessors- the sophistication of Connery, the camp of Moore, the toughness of Dalton. Some have criticised this style as a generic impersonation, but I find the combination works very effectively at times. There’s undoubtedly a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ quality to Brosnan’s Bond, yet I feel this helps rather than hinders his slick and watchable version of 007. GE is Brosnan’s most entertaining film, while Brosnan’s best-acted performance comes in TWINE.
3. Daniel Craig
The incumbent Bond in 2021. While some might criticise Craig as one-note, lacking the classical sophistication of a Connery or a Brosnan as well as failing to physically resemble Fleming’s literary character, Craig earns the third place owing to the strengths of his committed acting performances in CR and SF. He also gives a decent, more ‘traditional’ Bond performance in SP. Craig’s speciality is clearly in playing a grittily dangerous, serious incarnation of Bond, but he also displays a dry wit in SF and SP that broadens the range of his interpretation.
4. Roger Moore
Roger Moore is a difficult Bond to place. On the one hand, his greater emphasis on humour and camp provides a clearly defined and enjoyable contrast with Connery, which helped the series to adapt to the changing moods of the 1970s. He can also, given the chance, play a more grounded and subdued version of 007, as FYEO demonstrates effectively. On the other hand, the actual quality of Moore’s films is wildly unpredictable, ranging from the iconic (TSPWLM) to the embarrassing (TMWTGG) and the downright bizarre and ridiculous (MR, OP).
5. Timothy Dalton
The literary Bond. Timothy Dalton is clearly the Bond who derived the most from Fleming’s original version of the character in terms of their acting choices and this comes across on screen. However, Dalton is let down by his brief tenure as well as the sharp divergence in quality between TLD and LTK. TLD is an enjoyable and inventive Cold War thriller, while LTK is an unpleasant and uninspiring experience that drags down Dalton’s place on this list.
6. George Lazenby.
The one-time Bond. In OHMSS Lazenby acquits himself well during the fight scenes, and looks the part of Bond compared alongside Connery, but handles the emotional side of the story with less panache. Lazenby had potential and could well have improved significantly with more films, but on the strengths of OHMSS alone he has to rank below his five competitors.
I'll play. To a certain degree, I'm ranking based upon acting ability AND interpretation of the character of Bond. In many cases, the critiques of 'acting' can be laid at the feet of the director, and I'll note that below.
(Moderator's hat in place.)
A while back, we were inundated with ranking threads and they were moved to the Trivia Challenge forum. This one seems to have missed that purge, but I'll leave it here unless a lot of other ones suddenly appear.
(Moderator's hat off.)
Sean Connery is number one. All others are number two, or lower. ("Mystery Men")
I'm not sure how I'll rank the Bond actors, but I think Connery is both on top and at the bottom. Connery is the best Bond in DN-TB, but he's the least good one in DAF and NSNA.
I had a quick scroll through to see if I ranked the actors back when this thread was started. Sadly I seem to have given it a miss...it would have been interesting to compare now and then (although I think I know how I would have ranked them in 2007)
I think my 2007 version would have been Connery-Craig-Brosnan-Dalton-Moore-Lazenby. So Dalton is the biggest gainer of places, and Brosnan is the unlucky fella who falls to 5th place. Not that his Bond has fallen in my estimation since 2007, but my appreciation for Dalton has grown massively, and I was also a bit harsh on Roger Moore's levity in the role in those days.
I don't think I ever added to this thread. I was probably too busy writing about green trainers earlier, but here I go now.