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Who played Bond best? A definitive ranking

The James Bond franchise is in a select category of films that have grossed billions of dollars in revenue. The full scope of the films spans seven different decades, and over this period, seven male actors have aspired to become the premier version of Ian Fleming’s iconic creation.

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The best of the seven

When we look at the seven actors who have played the legendary agent, many analysts and film critics believe it is a direct competition between Sean Connery and Roger Moore. In addition to these two legendary actors, the other five were:

  • David Niven
  • George Lazenby
  • Timothy Dalton
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Daniel Craig

Connery takes the title as our pick for the best Bond. The legendary Scot died in October 2020 and was the first actor to bring Fleming’s creation to life. ‘Dr No’ first hit the cinema screens in 1962. It was a resounding success and propelled Connery and the character of James Bond into the spotlight. Sean Connery starred as James Bond in six additional films, including ‘Dr No’:

  • From Russia, With Love
  • Goldfinger
  • Thunderball
  • You Only Live Twice
  • Diamonds Are Forever
  • Never Say Never Again

Each actor who has played James Bond has brought something unique to the role. Connery created Fleming’s character’s highly charismatic, confident and philandering energy. It wasn’t just the quality of the lead roles that placed James Bond in Betway’s article on the most successful film franchises of all time, but it was a highly effective figurehead.

After they got the casting right, Terence Young was hired as the first film director, but he would also go on to direct two other Bond films in which Connery starred. The musical score, composed by Monty Norman, went on to win an Ivor Novello award. Even though Norman created the music for ‘Dr No’, it is still used in Bond films nearly 60 years later.

The best of the rest

Many fans and critics argue about who the premium James Bond was, but the general consensus is that Connery pips Roger Moore to the title. Moore also starred in seven films as 007. Some of those titles are considered some of the most iconic in the film’s franchise.

Another reason James Bond ranks highly on Betway’s most famous film franchises is down to the huge musical stars who have penned the title tracks. From Paul McCartney’s ‘Live and Let Die’ to Shirley Bassey’s ‘Goldfinger’, the songs are as instantly recognisable as the films themselves.

We will place Daniel Craig, the most recent Bond, slightly ahead of the man who passed him the crown – Pierce Brosnan. While Brosnan’s version of James Bond was acclaimed and had the acerbic wit and cool head you have come to expect from 007, the films he starred in were not well received at the time. In addition, they have also not aged well, with plenty of critical revisits marking them down even further.

This isn’t to talk down the quality of Brosnan’s acting, since he was a high point in many of the films. In addition to this, he has been warmly remembered by fans all over the globe. Daniel Craig, who picked up the baton from Brosnan, benefitted well from a new angle to the Bond films, with a clear direction and image for a 21st-century Bond.

‘Casino Royale’, which was Craig’s first outing, received widespread acclaim and was a box-office smash. It was named in many lists as the best film of 2006.


Outside of these four actors, there is little argument for any of them as the best Bond. They were all fine actors in their own right, with great careers. However, for whatever reason, their performances as 007 didn’t strike the same chord with fans and critics as the four men we have named in our article today.

The topic is still hotly debated, even 60 years after the first Bond film. It is likely never to have a definitive answer, as some critics have begun to include Daniel Craig in the list, following his successful James Bond run. The next actor chosen to play Bond will have big boots to fill, that is for certain. However, as we move toward the eighth actor to play James Bond, will he find himself battling Connery for the top spot or will he be considered one of the more forgettable versions of 007?

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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