Ranking the best 'Bond' actors from No. 1 to 007

Lasting over a period of more than 50 years, the Bond franchise seems to be unstoppable. However, with the new 007 movie "Spectre" set to hit theaters Friday, many are speculating that this might be the last time we see Daniel Craig as the iconic character of James Bond. This only leads to the question of who is going to play the iconic character after Craig.

Numerous actors from Hugh Jackman to Henry Cavill have expressed interest in playing the character, but the main contenders for this role so far are actors Damian Lewis and Idris Elba. Elba would be a far less conventional choice; with his amazing acting chops and charisma, he would be just what the franchise would need to truly reinvent itself in the years to come.

Although Elba is favored to play the character, there has been a bit of controversy regarding Elba being black. However, the British actor has made it clear that he would want his Bond legacy to be not just about being the first black person to play James Bond.

"I just don’t want to be the black James Bond," he said in response to the controversy. Sean Connery wasn’t (just) the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn’t (just) the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond.”

Regardless of who is chosen, that fortunate actor would be the seventh person to play James Bond in a live action movie. But what about the other six that came before? In honor of the new movie coming out Friday, here is a ranking of the six Bond actors, from worst to best.

6. George Lazenby

After five consecutive Bond movies, Sean Connery finally stepped down from the role that made him a household name. Lazenby would be the actor to take Connery’s place. These would be big shoes to fill, as Connery helped put Bond on the popular culture map.

Often noted as the forgotten Bond, Lazenby failed to leave Connery's shadow and fully make the role his own. He had the acting chops, but he lacked the charisma of his predecessor. Originally signed on for seven movies, Lazenby left the franchise after just one movie. His only Bond movie, "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" was mediocre at best. 

5. Roger Moore

"Moonraker" (with Moore as Bond) appeared to be a "Stars Wars" parody and not a Bond movie. It lacked the classic feel of the 007 movies from the '60s. Ironically, this movie would go on to become the most financially successful Bond movie at the time. With a record of seven films in 12 years, Moore has played James Bond more times than any other actor has. 

“Live and Let Die” was refreshing and brought a more humorous take on the character. However, by the time "A View To Kill" was released, audiences grew tired of Moore. After all this was his seventh movie and he was well approaching his sixtieth birthday, which is far too old to be playing a young and suave spy.  

4. Timothy Dalton

The Dalton era saw a shift from the unrealistic action sequences and corny one-liners to a more sophisticated and toned down Bond. This was the start of the modern era of Bond movies. When "The Living Daylights" came out in 1987, audiences saw a more serious take on the character for the first time.

The Dalton films were enjoyable because the actor could be taken seriously. Aside from the violent action and high speed car chases, these movies had great depth to them. What Dalton lacked however, was a sense of humor and this would often times make for an emotionless James Bond.

3. Sean Connery

Some said that Connery is the true Bond, and no other actor can be able to replace him. The actor had a great advantage over the others, being the first actor to play the character on the big screen. In many ways, he set the bar high for future stars aspiring to play the character.

With iconic performances in "Dr. No" and "From Russia With Love," Connery helped make James Bond a cultural phenomenon. While his first three movies as the title character were impressive, the same cannot be said about his later movies as Bond.  

“You Only Live Twice," Connery’s fifth installment as the character, featured very dated scenery, obvious stunt doubles and a jumbled up plot, ultimately failing to live up to the expectations of his previous movies. This lead Connery to step down from the role shortly after its release, only to come back to the franchise four years later.

2. Daniel Craig

Craig forever changed the Bond franchise. "Casino Royale" and "Skyfall" are not only among the best Bond movies, but are some of the best action films of the 21st century, proving that Bond is here to stay in the modern world.

Craig has a unique take on playing Bond; he is the first actor in this role to show a more vulnerable and emotional side to the character. Also, it is the first time where the character of Bond is actually relatable to audience. This is a major shift from James Bond being perceived as a perfect spy, but rather a Bond who, like all of us, is prone to making mistakes.

In an age where moviegoers are drawn to dark characters (For example: Christopher Nolan's "Batman"), this change in style made it easy for audiences to connect with the character. However, like Dalton’s Bond portrayal, these films lack humor. It would be nice to see Craig’s Bond make a few jokes here and there. 

1. Pierce Brosnan

Brosnan is the most underrated Bond actor. If you were judging based off of whose movies were the best then it would be Craig hands down, but as far as who portrayed Bond the best, it's Brosnan. The actor had a perfect balance between humor and seriousness. You could take him seriously, but he never failed to make you crack a grin at the same time. Also, he was arguably the best looking Bond actor. 

His first film as James Bond, "Goldeneye," was a kick-ass movie that helped reboot the franchise after a six year hiatus in 1995. It is a shame that Brosnan is almost always overlooked by lovers of Craig and Connery. 

Related Links:

‘Skyfall’ confidently launches new era for James Bond films

Top 5 most memorable Bond girls

Reach the reporter at obie.dieke@asu.edu, or follow @20crowndancer14 on Twitter.

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