Roger Moore was well into his 80s – still tanned, debonair and doted on by his Swedish socialite wife – when he reflected on the best and worst thing about playing James Bond.
“The best of it is you know you’re going to be well-served, because they’ve got you and you’re their Bond and they’re going to do everything to make you look good,” he said. “The worst is the aches and pains.”
From all the stunts? “No, chasing the girls.”
As he proved at yet another Bond gig – the launch of all the 007 movies on Blu-ray in 2012 – Moore’s wit never left him. Asked whether he considered himself the best Bond, his cheerful response was “Only in the eyes of my wife.”
For fans who discovered suave secret agent when Moore was playing him for a record 12 years, he defined the role.
But his death at 89 raises the age-old question: who really is the best Bond?
For years, the answer for many fans was Sean Connery, whose good looks, roguish charm and physical presence established the character with Dr No (1962). He battled some of the best villains, had some of the most memorable female companions, employed the best gadgets and was in one of the best Bond movies in Goldfinger.
He was the first of six actors to play Bond in the 24 “official” movies in the series. But as to whether he’s still the best, let’s count them down …
George Lazenby as 007. Photo: ScreenSound Australia
6. GEORGE LAZENBY
The only Australian to play 007 admitted in an Australian Q&A session a while back that he was a car salesman who talked his way into On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.
But Lazenby fell out with director Peter Hunt so badly that the filmmaker wouldn’t talk to him on set. He admitted that Hunt even left his own birthday party when the actor arrived, so Lazenby kept the fur coat he was planning to give him.
Lazenby left playing Bond believing there were better movies in store. It’s fair to say there weren’t.
Timothy Dalton as James Bond in 1987.
5. TIMOTHY DALTON
He shot just two Bond movies ??? The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989).
A dark, troubled Bond – a stark contrast to Roger Moore’s earlier flippancy – Dalton could definitely act but he brought nowhere near the warmth nor the wit that the best Bonds brought to the role.
Roger Moore as James Bond and Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me. Photo: Supplied
4. ROGER MOORE
He took over from Sean Connery for Live and Let Die (1973) and shot seven movies with more comedy than any other 007.
In Octopussy (1983), he had one of the great mid-air action scenes – chasing a villain on horseback, he jumped on the tail of a taxi-ing plane, climbed on the roof as it took off, dispatched the villain, clambered inside the plane then jumped to safety with the kidnapped Octopussy before it crashed.
But the same movie also pushed the series into ludicrous camp, when Bond defused a nuclear bomb while wearing a clown suit.
While Moore had warm charm and wit in spades, his romance with Grace Jones in A View to a Kill (1985) was not exactly convincing. At the time the debonair actor looked more ready to go to bed with a hot cocoa.
Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike in Sydney to promote the James Bond film Die Another Day. Photo: Dean Lewins
3. PIERCE BROSNAN
From Goldeneye (1995) to Die Another Day (2002) Brosnan’s four Bond movies expanded the series to modern blockbuster scale.
While the action was sometimes outlandish, Brosnan brought a suave charm to the role.
Tomorrow Never Dies had two classic action scenes – Bond firstly stealing a jet carrying nuclear weapons from a terrorist arms bazaar then steering his BMW by remote control during a chase through a car park.
But when he launched Die Another Day in Sydney, it was clear there had been tension with the producers when Brosnan said he had been “blindsided” by all the product placement in GoldenEye.
“Certain discussions were had around tables and certain agreements were agreed … now I’ve got one big fat lawyer in Los Angeles who sits there like a rottweiler. [I say] ‘Get ’em,’ and that helps,” he said.
But it only helped so much. Negotiations for Brosnan to make a fifth movie collapsed.
Sean Connery in Dr No.
2. SEAN CONNERY
As well as being first actor to play the role, many fans still consider him the definitive Bond.
Dressed in a suave tux, he introduced himself to a glamorous brunette across a casino table in Dr No with a line that has become iconic. “Bond,” he said, cigarette dangling from his mouth. “James Bond.”
Connery shot six movies and has been the only actor to have a strong career after stepping aside from the role – even winning an Oscar for The Untouchables (1987).
He featured in one of the great scenes in the scenes, when Bond was strapped down with a laser about to slice him in half in Goldfinger. “Do you expect me to talk?” he asked. Fans all know Auric Goldfinger’s response: “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”
For a witty riposte or a knowing look, there was no one better. Until recently.
Daniel Craig is the most recent actor to tackle the role.
1. DANIEL CRAIG
Before winning the role, Craig was best known for playing the poet Ted Hughes opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Sylvia, Angelina Jolie’s rival in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and a cocaine dealer in the crime thriller Layer Cake.
But his first movie as 007, Casino Royale (2006) is arguably the best in the series for action, wit, energy, glamour and entertaining story.
Craig was a convincing cold-blooded killer who could carry off a parkour chase, wear a tuxedo and banter brilliantly with Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. “Skewered,” he admitted. “One sympathises.” He was charismatic, bristling with physicality and darkly brooding.
Reflecting the impact of an new generation movie spy with a similar name – Jason Bourne – the series became grittier, with more realistic action and emotion. For once, the blood and bruises from all those fights and near-fatal scrapes looked real.
Follow-up Quantum of Solace (2008) was a major disappointment. But the scale and character development in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015) have confirmed Craig has become the definitive Bond.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.