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The Men Who Were Bond

For 53 years James Bond has made cinema history – and throughout, the HFPA was there to document it. As Spectre, the 24th Bond film since the franchise launched in 1962 opens worldwide and seeks to perpetuate the success of the iconic character, Ana Maria Bahiana looks back at 53 years of cinema history.

They came from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England. They were not The Beatles, they were The Bonds, with one mission: to portray the sexiest, most daring and indestructible spy the world had ever seen. In the end, they created various facets of the same figment of author Ian Fleming’s imagination and became legends in their own right.

The saga of the Five Bonds would not be complete, however without two additional names who briefly incarnated the agent with a Licence to Kill: Barry Nelson, from San Francisco, California, who played Bond in 1954, in the first adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel – Casino Royale, an episode of the CBS series Climax!; and George Lazenby from Goulburn, Australia, who portrayed 007 in one single movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969, in the interim between Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

Gentlemen, we salute you!

Who: Sir Thomas Sean Connery, born August 25 1930, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; nominated for five Golden Globes, winner of two – 1972 Henrietta Award for World Favorite – Male and 1988 Best Supporting Actor for The Untouchables. Recipient of the 1996 Cecil B. deMille Award.

How/why he was chosen: Connery wasn’t the first choice of either producer/007 rights owner Albert “Cubby” Broccoli or author Ian Fleming. Both men saw the struggling young actor – who had been rising through the ranks in the London theater and movie scene – as too rough, too muscular and definitely “too blatantly sexual” (Broccoli’s words) to play the suave Bond. Connery, however, was a favorite of Broccoli’s wife Dana, who insisted on him when her husband’s chosen one – The Prisoner’s Patrick McGoohan – turned down the part. Once cast, Connery spent a delightful “training period” under the wing of director Terence Young, getting acquainted with London’s high life of exclusive clubs, fast cars and sophisticated women.

Movies: Dr. No, dir. Terence Young, 1962; From Russia With Love, dir. Terence Young, 1963; Goldfinger, dir. Guy Hamilton, 1964; Thunderball, dir. Terence Young, 1965; You Only Live Twice, dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1967; Diamonds Are Forever, dir. Guy Hamilton, 1971; Never Say Never Again, dir. Irvin Kershner, 1983

Bond Girls: Ursula Andress, Daniela Bianchi, Lotte Lenya, Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton, Tania Malley, Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi, Mie Hama, Karin Dor, Jill St. John, Lana Wood, Barbara Carrera, Kim Basinger.

What he told us about it: “I think the reason for the success, initially, was the timing of the making of the film. Because we were doing a lot of message films and (…) sociological problem films and suddenly (Dr. No) came up and we in Europe were still (dealing) with rationing of things and suddenly we were confronted with a whole world that’s sort of exotic like Jamaica and gambling casinos, clubs, attractive birds and a person that goes through and has certainly his fair share of pleasures, and has a strong adversary and succeeds.”


Who: Roger George Moore, born October 14, 1927 in London, England, UK. Winner, 1980 Henrietta Award for World Favorite – Male.

How/why he was chosen: Halfway through the shoot of Diamonds are Forever Connery had an epiphany – he was indeed done with “the whole Bond bit” (he had taken a break in 1966, being replaced by George Lazenby in On her Majesty’s Secret Service). A close encounter with a shark during filming, and his growing disgust with having to wear a toupee to play the character (Connery started to go bald at age 21) sealed the deal. Roger Moore was cast thanks in great part to his success as the title character in the TV series The Persuaders! and The Saint. When Moore accepted Brocolli’s offer he was immediately told to cut his hair and lose weight – and almost changed his mind. To emphasize the difference in tone from the Bonds of the Connery era, screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz gave Moore a lighter version of the character, emphasizing comedic beats. The choice would prove almost fatal for the franchise.

Movies: Live and Let Die, dir. Guy Hamilton, 1973; The Man With the Golden Gun, dir. Guy Hamilton, 1974; The Spy Who Loved Me, dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1977; Moonraker dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1979 ; For Your Eyes Only, dir. John Glen, 1981; Octopussy, dir. John Glen, 1983; A View To a Kill, dir. John Glen, 1985

Bond Girls: Jane Seymour, Britt Ekland, Barbara Bach, Caroline Munro, Lois Chiles, Corinne Cléry, Carole Bouquet, Cassandra Harris, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Maud Adams, Kristina Wayborn, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones

What he told us about it: “I don’t think no more (about replacing Sean Connery) than sort of Olivier did at playing Hamlet after John Gielgud. Not that I compare myself to Olivier or John Gielgud or they to me.”


Who: Timothy Peter Dalton, born March 21 1946, Colwyn Bay, Wales, UK.

How/why he was chosen: Dalton had been in the producers’ sights very early on – he was one of the actors approached to replace Sean Connery when the Scottish actor balked for the first time, in 1966. Dalton refused at the time claiming he was too young to play the part. When they came back to him after Roger Moore announced he was done with the character, and Broccoli’s first choice – Pierce Brosnan – was not available, Dalton finally agreed.

Movies: The Living Daylights, dir. John Glen, 1987dir. John Glen, 1989;

Bond Girls: Maryam D’Abo, Talisa Soto, Carey Lowell

What he told us about it: “(James Bond) is very, very powerful as an image, as an institution. I once made a little documentary about wolves and I flew up onto one location which was very, very far north of Alaska, a few hundred miles from the North Pole and as I landed on this tiny ice strip in a tiny airplane the entire Eskimo village came out and said: “James Bond! James Bond!” So it dominates you. It dominates your life and I find that uncomfortable.”


Who: Pierce Brendan Brosnan, born May 16, in Drogheda, Ireland. Twice nominated for Golden Globes: 1985, Best Supporting Actor/TV for Nancy Astor; 2006, Best Actor/Comedy or Musical, The Matador.

How/why he was chosen: Weak box office returns for Licence to Kill and a protracted battle for the rights to the 007 character put the franchise in an almost stand still. Dalton’s contract expired in 1993 and the repeated delays of a possible start of production erased the last glimmer of interest the Welsh actor had in the character. Pierce Brosnan, that had stirred Broccoli’s interest since his visit to the set of For Your Eyes Only (his then wife, Cassandra Harris, was in the cast) was finally available and ready. He signed for three pictures, with the option of a fourth. Right out of the gate his debut as Bond, Goldeneye, restored the franchise to its previous box office power, amassing $350 million worldwide.

Movies: Goldeneye, dir. Martin Campbell, 1995, dir. Roger Spottiswoode, 1997Michael Apted, 1999dir. Lee Tamahori, 2002.

Bond Girls: Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Teri Hatcher, Michelle Yeoh, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike

What he told us about it: “Audiences are used to an accessibility of these characters and a certain vulnerability, although vulnerable, is very dangerous to use in the context of James Bond. But it was a conscious effort on my behalf to make him more accessible, more human. What Sean did back there in ’62, ’63, he brought an amazing strength, virility and his own uniqueness to it. I’m a different man.”


Who: Daniel Wroughton Craig, born March 2, 1968 in Chester, England, UK.

How/why he was chosen: When Pierce Brosnan chose not to exercise his option to play Bond a fourth time; the producers began a search in earnest. Their choice of Craig – shorter, more muscular and younger than his predecessors – was highly controversial. Fans threatened to boycott the new picture, prompting The Daily Mirror to poll all actors who played 007 on their opinion about Craig – highly positive, in the end. When he signed on, Craig had already worked on stage, TV and movies, with an impressive turn as a complicated gangster in Layer Cake.

Movies: Casino Royale, dir. Martin Campbell, 2006; Quantum of Solace, dir. Marc Foster, 2008; Skyfall, dir. Sam Mendes, 2012; Spectre, dir. Sam Mendes, 2015,

Bond Girls: Eva Green, Caterina Murino, Olga Kurylenko, Gemma Arterton, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Léa Seydoux, Monica Belucci.

What he told us about it: “I hope (being James Bond) it’s going to be liberating. I’m not putting a negative spin on it. I mean, this is a very high-class problem to have as an actor, to be typecast as James Bond. I’m certainly going to try and get as much out of it as I can.”

Ana Maria Bahiana