James Bond Actors – Ranked WORST to BEST

best james bond actor

Many versions of James Bond have blessed our screens since Sean Connery first embodied the character in 1962. While they’ve all had their martinis “shaken, not stirred” and driven one of his Aston Martins, each one ultimately brought something different to the table.

As with any adaptation of a beloved movie hero like the array of Batman actors or Joker renditions, some interpretations are flawless and others not quite so.

So, which James Bond actor perfectly played the role? And which one was more of a spoof than a spy?

Here is our ranking of the 8 actors who tried on 007’s suit!

8. Timothy Dalton

We rank Timothy Dalton as the worst Bond actor simply for not being as memorable as his predecessors and followers. Dalton replaced Roger Moore in the late 1980s and remained in the popular franchise for just two movies – The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill. Only The Living Daylights was a success, while Licence To Kill didn’t work quite as well and was just as forgetful as the actor himself.

Moreover, Dalton’s performance was met with both praise and hesitation, as his take on the character was as serious as the novel version. Viewers also couldn’t help but compare Dalton to Roger Moore’s depiction who had instead been lauded for his somewhat goofy take on it.

7. David Niven

Just like George Lazenby and Barry Nelson, David Niven is a lesser known version of 007. He didn’t really leave a mark on the canon, which is mostly due to his interpretation of the character being the furthest from the one depicted in Ian Fleming’s novels.

In his only movie as Bond, Casino Royale (1967), Niven played a version of the spy that was closer to Batman’s Alfred than the seductive, womanizing type immortalized by Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan…Each to his own, we guess.

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6. George Lazenby

Sean Connery’s successor was an Australian actor and model who took over the franchise after Connery’s departure in the late 1960s. George Lazenby is the youngest actor to ever play the spy at just 29-years-old. If his face doesn’t ring any bells for you, it’s because he only played the emblematic agent once in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and never again after that.

Despite his good looks and acting talent, the handsome Aussie didn’t really enjoy the shoot and apparently had beefs with two co-stars as well as the powers that be. We can only imagine the pressure of following in the footsteps of such a giant as Connery!

5. Barry Nelson

Even if he was the first actor to ever play Ian Fleming’s famous spy, Barry Nelson is rarely included in any James Bond list. In fact, many people just prefer to consider Dr. No with Sean Connery as the first adaptation.

However, Barry did shortly play the British spy first in a television adaptation of ‘Casino Royale’, as part of an episode of the anthology drama series, Climax!. Although this was his only time playing the special agent, this seems important to mention as it remains a largely forgotten, underrated performance.

4. Roger Moore

Roger Moore added a touch to 007 that didn’t exist in Ian Fleming’s work – a sense of humor and an easy-going attitude that was poles apart from the brooding and strict character from the novels. This is precisely why so many people cherished Moore as Bond.

Moore is until this day, the longest-running Bond having starred in seven James Bond movies. Not only was his performance one of a kind, but most, if not all of his movies are some of the best out of the bunch (let’s forget Octopussy). One that definitely stands out is Live and Let Die, which was Roger’s first time as his Majesty’s agent.

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 3. Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan had all the wit and charm needed to play 007. Introducing a more modern Bond after a six year hiatus, Brosnan’s version was sophisticated, yet slick and badass enough to be a somewhat impressive spy. Let’s not forget his iconic one-liners, cool gadgets and the fact that he had the highest kill count of all Bonds (135 kills!)

Not everyone thinks Brosnan’s movies were as memorable as Connery’s or Moore’s, but there is no denying that the actor had done his homework for the role. Then again, the outdated special effects and the oftentimes cartoonish plots (that invisible car in Die Another Day) did make it a little dusty for today’s audience. But if you can get past that, it’s worth the invisible ride!

2. Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig has been James Bond for four movies now, with No Time To Die set to be his last. And in about fourteen years, it’s safe to say that the British actor has done his job perfectly well. He’s broody (in a charming way) and ever-so-serious, and he’s more “human” than previous Bonds.

Although his take on the character is not as witty as Moore’s or as smooth as Connery’s, Craig has a certain cold charm that manages to captivate audiences without ever boring them. The most faithful adaptation of the character in spite of his blonde hair and height, Daniel Craig’s 007 has succeeded in reviving an old franchise and revamping it for a new generation.

1. Sean Connery

To most people, from hardcore fans of the franchise to even the most casual viewers, Sean Connery will always be ranked as the best James Bond actor. He’s the real deal…the ultimate face for the iconic cinematic spy…the first to utter “Bond… James Bond”.

This isn’t just because Connery was the first 007 actor on the big screen after Barry Nelson’s discreet appearance. It’s impossible to ignore the charm and appeal the Scottish actor gave to a character that was intended to be a lot more serious.

Handsome, witty, likable, clever and brave, there is very little Sean Connery’s Bond didn’t master- that’s why it’s difficult to disagree with those that crown him the greatest Bond of all time.

After almost half a century of actors embodying the beloved British agent, there’s no denying that 007 has left an immortal mark on cinema – regardless of the actor’s performance. But like every popular franchise and its leading roles, we all can’t help but compare and pit them against each other.

Let us know in the comments if you agree with our ranking! Is Sean Connery also your favorite James Bond actor? Or do you prefer the underrated ones? Is there even a right answer to this question? We’re all ears!

How much do you know about 007? Check out our list of facts about James Bond!



Tale Teller
Maria Supplisson

Maria Supplisson

Maria is a screenwriting student at the London Film Academy with a Bachelors' degree in English & Creative Writing, blogger and storytelling-obsessed, from literature to TV shows, movies to documentaries. During her time at the London Film Academy, Maria wrote two short films that were produced by the school, one of which was showcased at the BFI for graduation, and she is now working on multiple projects from a short film to a play, while also translating articles from English to French about film, series, and celebrities for a London-based entertainment news agency. Unhealthily addicted to Game of Thrones lore.

77 Responses

  1. There is little doubt that Connery set a very high bar – one that Roger More could not get over. Brosnan did well and
    so too Danny Craig. But Tim Dalton was closer to the truth. Bond was not a likeable man and Dalton showed this perfectly. Perhaps that is why people prefer to forget him. He was too accurate for comfort and showed the terrible world 007 moved in.

  2. Only Sean Connery and Daniel Craig belong in the conversation. I had always thought that the second Bond film, From Russia With Love was the best. Then along came Daniel Craig`s version of Casino Royale. I would rate Casino Royale by an eyelash over Russia with Love. As for the best bond, it is a dead heat. When Craig came out in Casino Royale, he wasn`t just good, he was spectacular. I cannot choose one over the other. They are both #10s.

  3. Sean Connery and Roger Moore,original James Bonds the next would be Pierce Bronsan and Daniel Craig bringing up the rear the rest unforgettable.

  4. No doubts at all, Sean Connery is #1 followed by Roger Moore then Daniel Craig. To me, the others are not James Bond….

  5. I really enjoyed Timothy Dalton 2 movies. Thought he should be in the top end of the list. On the other hand, Craig Daniel is too high up. I could see him taking a third or four spot.

  6. I loved each and everyone of them..Bond.movies and actors. I’m a big Sean Connery fan, always adored Roger Moore, thought David Niven one of the greatest actors of all time, watched Dalton and Lizenbee and wondered why they didn’t get more alcolades because they made the part real and I’ll watch theirs again also. And Craig and Brosnan nailed all their Bond performances in rich and different but excellent ways. I haven’t seen the Barry Nelson one but plan to keep searching for it. There is something enthralling in all of the Bond movies. If i had to rank them they’d be: Connery and Moore tie for number one; Craig and Brosnan tie for second; Lizenbee and Dalton tie for third with a close Niven because he’s so great to see and listen to with that aristocraticly beautiful English accent.

  7. Sean Connery is undisputed, true. He is confident, has deliberate and well calculated moves, truly wise and has a way with ladies that excites all of us.

    Also, in any crowd, he would stand out!

    My number 1.

    Number 2 comes Roger Moore. He also stands out in a crowd and is a great success with ladies.

    His smile engaged every body and his wit is unmatched.

    Number 3 is Pierce Brosnan…

  8. Dalton was the closest to Bond than any of them, Dalton had read the novels and had rejected the role earlier in his career as he wasn’t the right bage Bond is in the novels. Also he actually looks like the description bond is in the novels.

    His portrayal is what bond is in the books, a man with emotions, character and flaws.

    1. AGREE!! Reading this ranking got me upset. Dalton has more energy and raw carisma then both Moore and Connery. Worst was Brosnan, to stiff. Belongs in a museum.

  9. Sean Connery is by far the BEST James Bond. Then Roger Moore, Daniel Craig & Pierce Brosnan. These to me are the actors who did a good job as James Bond. My siblings & I really enjoy the James Bond Movies over the years & look forward to the new releases of any Bond Movie. Which guarantees lots of action.

  10. the definitive ranking of James Bond actors.
    (without includiong the unoficial actors)
    6. George Lazenby= does an ok job but most of the time is just to wooden
    5. Roger Moore= Absolutely nails it with the humor but not that James Bond
    4. Pierce Brosnan= The Bond of many childhoods who played Goldeneye 007 and watched his movies, but it’s a bit of shame that his films were a mix. Goldeneye has one of the best story tellings and action, Tomorrow Never Dies focuses more on action than story telling, The World Is Not Enough was the opposite, focused more on story telling than action, and Die Another Day focused more on CGI than storytelling. But his Bond is just the most pretty one out of them all, he really looked like James Bond.
    3. Timothy Dalton= Completely nails the seriousness of Bond, he doesn’t focus on jokes. You could really tell that he knew how to handle the WA2000 in The Living Daylights, and even was wise enough not to kill Kara (since she was a set up). Both of his films are amazing. Sure he did fall in the humour, but Dalton’s performance already entertains you without the need of humour. The only problem was his timing, as he chose to be Bond at a time where people were mostly used to Moore’s lighthearted Bond movies. Truly underrated
    2. Daniel Craig= Craig took Dalton’s concept and made it better. He had almost everything, the charms, the humour while still containing the seriousness and cold blooded killer characteristic. The only part where he flopped was the Bond looks, he just didn’t look like Bond, but hey, he still nails it.
    1. Sean Connery= Yeah this isn’t surprising, Sean Connery will remain #1 and I don’t think I even have to explain it.

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