Daniel Craig seems to be coming back stronger than ever in the “James Bond” franchise. The movie recently opened as the highest grossing U.K. opening for the entire franchise and no less than the Vatican’s newspaper praised “Skyfall” and Craig’s performance as 007. However, looking at Craig’s performance in the role of James Bond, where does he rank among the other men who have played the role of the British secret agent?
Sean Connery brought James Bond to the big screen in the franchise’s debut, “Dr. No.” With his suave, yet dangerous, performance, an icon was born. As the first official Bond, Connery remains the favorite to many people. He appeared in the first five movies in the franchise, took one movie off, and then signed off with “Diamonds are Forever.” He did return a decade later to a non-canon Bond film, “Never Say Never Again.”
George Lazenby starred as James Bond in the one movie that Connery skipped over before leaving the franchise for good. The movie was “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and ranked as one of the worst movies in the series until recent years when it was re-evaluated. Now, it has built a large cult following, with none other than Christopher Nolan praising it. The movie was darker than the rest, and ended on a down note. However, Lazenby’s performance was the weakest of any Bond to date.
Following Connery’s departure, Roger Moore received the role of James Bond and made it his own. No longer a dangerous, simmering sex symbol, Moore made the role a bit more comedic and over-the-top. The grittiness was gone and Moore took his Bond on adventures including voodoo and space travel. Moore’s tenure lasted for seven films, the most of any Bond for official appearances.
When Roger Moore left, the studio tried to make James Bond dangerous again, hiring Timothy Dalton and putting him into stories where he was more of a weapon than a lover. He appeared in two movies, “The Living Daylights” and “License to Kill,” the title of the second movie a clear indication of the direction of the character. This was years before the “Bourne” movies and fans weren’t ready for this dangerous, deadly Bond yet.
That brought the studios to Pierce Brosnan, who they originally wanted before signing Dalton. With Brosnan, they returned to the suave over-the-top attitude of the franchise, but added a hint of danger to the proceedings. He starred in four movies, each one upping the danger until the franchise was ready to move into a brand new direction when Daniel Craig took over with “Casino Royale.”
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