It’s been 50 years since the first James Bond film, “Dr. No,” premiered in theaters (Oct 5th). Since then, more than 20 films featuring the iconic spy have come out. In November, the 23rd, “Skyfall,” descends on 007 fans.
But while Bond’s history is well up in the double digits, only a few Hollywood stars have been singled out to utter the signature line, “Bond, James Bond.” Click through to see how he’s evolved through the years:
Eight years before Bond made it to the big screen, he was portrayed by former MGM contract player Barry Nelson on the small screen. Nelson was the first actor to portray Bond in the 1954 adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel, “Casino Royale,” for the TV series “Climax!” Nelson’s Bond was an American named “Jimmy Bond,” and can be seen as a bonus feature on the DVD of the 1967 film adaptation of “Casino Royale” starring David Niven.
Sean Connery launched the film series audiences have come to know and love by starring in the first five Bond films, 1962’s “Dr. No,” 1963’s “From Russia with Love,” 1964’s “Goldfinger,” 1965’s “Thunderball” and 1967’s “You Only Live Twice.” Later, he appeared in 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever” and 1983’s “Never Say Never Again.” Though Fleming at first doubted that the Scottish actor had the sexual charisma for the part, Connery would later become one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive, in large part because of his role as Bond. He would go on to star in such hit films as “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “The Untouchables,” for which he won an Oscar.
Niven was reportedly the only Bond actor to be name checked in Fleming’s novels. The British actor had his moment in 1967’s “Casino Royale,” a spoof of the spy genre that cast him alongside such greats as Peter Sellers and Woody Allen.
George Lazenby stepped in after Connery temporarily backed out of the Bond franchise in 1968. The Aussie actor starred in 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” — even though his most famous prior acting gig was starring in a commercial for chocolate. But before the film came out, Lazenby decided he’d had enough, saying the producers disregarded his on-set suggestions because he didn’t have enough Hollywood experience.
After it became clear that Connery had given up the role of Bond for good, British actor Roger Moore stepped in, first starring in 1973’s “Live and Let Die.” That was followed by 1974’s “The Man with the Golden Gun,” 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me,” 1979’s “Moonraker,” 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only,” 1983’s “Octopussy,” and 1985’s “A View to a Kill.” Moore was the longest-serving James Bond, spending 12 years in the role. He was also the oldest actor to star in the role, starting when he was 45 and ending at 58, when he announced his retirement. Unlike Connery, Moore’s film roles dried up after his stint as Bond and he has spent most of the subsequent years volunteering for UNICEF.
British actor Timothy Dalton took over the role from Roger Moore in 1987’s “The Living Daylights” and 1989’s “License to Kill.” Dalton played his Bond as a reluctant agent, closer to Fleming’s character in the novels. While critics lauded his more serious, gritty approach compared to Moore’s lighthearted playboy, Dalton was also criticized for taking the fun out of the series. He would distance himself from Bond by taking a variety of film, stage and TV roles, including playing Rhett Butler in the miniseries “Scarlett” and Mr. Pricklepants in “Toy Story 3.”
Brosnan met Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli years before he scored the role, when his first wife, Cassandra Harris, appeared in “For Your Eyes Only.” More than a decade later, he landed on the big screen as Bond himself. Brosnan’s Bond debut, 1995’s “Golden Eye,” was hugely successful, and grossed more than $350 million worldwide. He went on to front the critically acclaimed box office winners “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “The World Is Not Enough.”
Soon after his last film with the franchise, 2002’s “Die Another Day,” he told reporters he wanted to continue on as Bond, but voiced his support for Daniel Craig once Craig landed the role.
Craig, 44, has a unique distinction — he’s the first Bond actor to have been born after the film series began and author Ian Fleming died. He was controversial at first. With blond hair and blue eyes, Craig’s not the tall, dark, handsome Bond of yore. But he put critics to rest with 2006’s “Quantum of Solace,” which went on to become the highest-grossing Bond film to date. Being Bond has changed Craig’s life in ways good and bad. He recently told Vanity Fair that he can’t go to bars anymore. “The difference is that, back in the day, you could go and have a drink in the bar, get drunk, fall over, have a good time, relax, whatever, and no one would know about it,” he said.”But now everyone’s got a camera.”