Who Are The Actors Behind James Bond

Who played James Bond? A short history of the actors who played James Bond, from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan, and the films each made during his Bond career.

Since 1962, 19 official James Bond films and 5 James Bonds have passed us by. Keeping track of who was James Bond when and in which movies can be a daunting task; this guide will help clear up all your questions.

(In 1954 a television production of Casino Royale appeared as an episode of the CBS Climax! Mystery Theatre anthology series. Barry Nelson played Bond (as an American agent), dubbed "Card Sense Jimmy Bond".)

Sean Connery was the first James Bond. He appeared in 6 official James Bond films over a period of 9 years: Dr. No in 1962, From Russia with Love in 1963, Goldfinger in 1964, Thunderball in 1965, You Only Live Twice in 1967, and Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. He also appeared in Never Say Never Again in 1983, a remake of Thunderball, but it is not considered an official James Bond film.

Sean Connery played the James Bond all other James Bonds have been, and always will be, measured against. From the very top of the movie critic food chain with professionals such as Siskel and Ebert, down to the average moviegoer, Connery was the best. His Bond had a balance between being romantic and witty, and yet also being what he was: a cold-blooded spy with business to take care of.

As critic Roger Ebert puts it: "Basically, you have Connery, and then you have all the rest."

The next James Bond to grace the silver screen was George Lazenby. He appeared in one film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in 1969. For this film the producers couldn't get Connery, so they went on a major search. Lazenby, an Australian model with no prior acting experience, was the result. He had big shoes to fill coming right after Sean Connery, indeed even in the midst of Connery's Bond career.

While On Her Majesty's Secret Service is now regarded as probably the best non-Connery Bond film, Lazenby himself is often cited as a poor James Bond. He was too flat and straight-laced for most moviegoers. As critic James Berardinelli says of Lazenby's performance: "[He] can handle the action sequences, but that's about all he masters. For most of the film he's stiff and uncharasmatic"¦"

After one film, Lazenby decided to leave the Bond series. Producers then convinced Connery to pick up 007's reigns once more for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 before finally ending his official Bond Career. Because Lazenby was only in one film, and because Connery's career overlapped his, he is often the forgotten James Bond.

Roger Moore became the next big James Bond. He appeared in 7 Bond films over a period of 12 years. He started his career with Live and Let Die in 1973 and went on to do The Man With The Golden Gun in 1974, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977, Moonraker in 1979, For Your Eyes Only in 1981, Octupussy in 1983, and View To a Kill in 1985.

Moore emphasized James Bond's lighter, more humorous side. He played Bond as a much nicer guy. As Desson Howe, writing for the Washington Post, points out: "His weapon of choice was the punchline."

Moore's films were much more financially rewarding than those of the previous Bonds, but far less heralded by critics. The films had lost their taught edge and had dropped into a more 'family fare' movie genre.

Moore does hold many James Bond records though. He had the longest Bond career with the most pictures. He was also the oldest James Bond -- 3 years older than even Sean Connery.

After Moore retired, Timothy Dalton took over the role of James Bond. His career spanned 2 years and 2 films: The Living Daylights in 1987, and License To Kill in 1989.

Like Lazenby in 1969, Dalton had big shoes to fill. He made a drastic change from Moore's 'family fare' Bond and instead created a colder, darker character far more reminiscent of Ian Flemings novels than any cinematic Bond up to that point. His two films move closer to the thriller genre than the superhero action genre of the other Bond films. Critics and some fans often cite this seriousness as a fault -- critic James Berardinelli says: "Dalton plays Bond too straight -- stylish, cold, and without a trace of humor." -- but many have also enjoyed the change.

In all, Dalton lasted a little longer than Lazenby, but, more than anything, merely cleared the waters for the next big James Bond to step in.

Pierce Brosnan is the fifth and newest James Bond. His films include Goldeneye in 1995, Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997, and The World Is Not Enough in 1999. There are currently plans to do another Bond film for release in 2002; it will be the 20th film in the series.

Brosnan portrays a James Bond much more in touch with his feelings than has ever been seen before. As critic Roger Ebert observes, "He is somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete"¦" And this change seems very well received by audiences of the nineties. So far, Brosnan's films have been the most financially rewarding in all Bond film history, and Brosnan has been the most critically acclaimed James Bond since Connery. As put by critic James Berardinelli, Brosnan "inhabits his character with a suave confidence that is very much like Connery's."

Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan have been the actors behind James Bond -- immortalizing the most famous spy in the world, and, consequently, becoming immortalized themselves -- some more than others.

But while the actors try their best, they eventually have to hang up the tuxedo and suave sophistication of 007; only James Bond himself seems to be truly immortal: 1962 - ?.

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