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Every actor who's played James Bond, ranked from worst to best

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Pictures of Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, and Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.
From left, Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, and Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. MGM
  • The new James Bond movie, "No Time To Die," is set to hit US theaters on October 8.

  • The film is Daniel Craig's last outing as Bond.

  • Below, Insider has ranked all six actors who have portrayed Bond on film.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Worst: George Lazenby (1969-1969)

A picture of George Lansbury as James Bond.
George Lazenby as James Bond. MGM

The Australian actor George Lazenby is on this list as a matter of courtesy. He portrayed Bond once in 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." He was drafted in by Eon Productions — the film's producers — after Sean Connery decided to step away. And he was promptly replaced by Roger Moore when the series resumed in 1973 with "Live and Let Die."

Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002)

pierce brosnan 007
Pierce Brosnan filming in 1997. Markus Beck/picture alliance via Getty Images

After 15 years of Daniel Craig — who is eulogized later in this list — it is easy to forget the damage Pierce Brosnan did to the James Bond franchise, but it is important to revisit our lowest moments so we can grow. So here, I humbly ask, do we remember the unfortunate orange spray tan Brosnan sported throughout his time as 007? Or the awkward hyperpop theme songs such as Madonna's awful "Die Another Day."

Brosnan's films even have bad guns.

It is important to note that "GoldenEye" — Brosnan's first Bond film — was also the first film in the franchise not produced by Albert R. Broccoli, the film series originator, who had been succeeded by his daughter, Barbara Broccoli, along with his stepson, Michael G. Wilson. But it has been reported that Brosnan was favored by Albert Broccoli, so maybe it was time for him to step down.

Nonetheless, across his four-film run, Brosnan pushed Bond away from its steely, cool origins to something more Hollywood and less interesting.

Roger Moore (1973-1985)

roger moore
The British actor Roger Moore, playing James Bond, is shown on location in England in 1972. AP Photo

Roger Moore suited up as James Bond a record seven times, and the bulk of his films were directed by the British director John Glen who had an unparalleled skill for capturing pure chaos on screen. And that is what Moore's Bond was best known for.

In his seven-film run, Moore went to space, fought off a pack of crocodiles, and defused a nuclear bomb. And while Moore's Bond was charismatic and entertaining, there was rarely any substance to what he said, and there was even less plot to hold together all the big-budget stunts. And for this reason, Moore's seven films don't make for great rewatching.

Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)

A picture of Timothy Dalton as James Bond.
Timothy Dalton as James Bond. MGM

The sole reason Timothy Dalton is not at the top of this list is that he portrayed Bond only twice, but this wasn't due to bad ratings or box-office numbers. His films "The Living Daylights" (1987) and "Licence to Kill" (1989) are two of the most beloved Bond films and Dalton's dark and often serious take on 007 is widely considered the most accurate interpretation of Ian Fleming's books.

"I wanted to make him human," Dalton said of his interpretation of Bond during an interview in 2008. "He's not a superman; you can't identify with a superman. You can identify with the James Bond of the books. He's a tarnished man, really. I wanted to capture that occasional sense of vulnerability and I wanted to capture the spirit of Ian Fleming."

As many people have stated before, Dalton's grounding of Bond paved the way for the franchise's most profitable period of releases with Daniel Craig's 007. Dalton's tenure, however, was cut short due to complex legal wrangling between the film's producers MGM and Eon Productions, which halted production until 1994, when his contract expired.

Sean Connery (1962-1967)

james bond
Sean Connery as the original movie James Bond. United Artists

Sean Connery had a legendary acting career that spanned over 50 movies and included appearances in some of Hollywood's most iconic movies such as 1964's "Marnie," 1989's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," and 1987's "The Untouchables," for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. But when he died last year, he was best remembered as the first 007.

According to Connery, however, his interpretation of 007 managed to charm everyone but Fleming.

"I never got introduced to Fleming until I was well into the movie, but I know he was not happy with me as the choice," he said on "The South Bank Show" in 2008.

Despite Fleming's reservations, Connery played the secret agent in seven films from 1962 to 1983, and his version is remembered as not only the coolest in the franchise but one of the coolest characters in cinematic history.

Connery's powers as 007 came from his own charisma. As Barbara Walters best described in a 1987 interview, the Scotsman was someone who didn't try to be sexy; he simply oozed class. Connery can also claim to be the only Bond actor who actually managed to pull off the famous catchphrase, "Martini, shaken, not stirred" and make it sound cool.

Best: Daniel Craig (2006-2021)

no time to die
Daniel Craig as James Bond in "No Time to Die" MGM

Daniel Craig's Bond films are dark and physical and entertaining. But it is Craig's commercial success that has landed him atop this list. The numbers simply don't lie: 2012's "Skyfall," Craig's third outing as Bond, and first collaboration with the British director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty"), raked in $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the most commercially successful Bond film of all time.

Craig's portrait of the top-secret British spy helped to revive the franchise, which, at the time, had been struggling to find a contemporary identity for 007 after Brosnan's thematically erratic series of films.

Craig's last Bond film, "No Time To Die," hits US theaters on October 8. Early projections suggest the film could make a $90 million debut at the international box office, so by the end of his tenure, Craig might not just be the actor who saved the Bond franchise but also the actor who saved cinema.

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