The Best James Bond Actors Ranked: Who Was The Ultimate 007?
When Ian Fleming created the fictional persona of James Bond, it was intended that he would be an “extremely dull, uninteresting man”. As time has passed, the character became anything but that, living a life of luxury cars and clothes, high-tech gadgets and sublime supermodels.
All 5 actors who starred in the role made it their own, whether it was Connery’s class, Moore’s levity, Dalton’s darkside, Brosnan’s personality or Craig’s heroics. As the latter calls time on the role after No Time To Die, the debate rages on about the best Bond. We gathered all the data from the suits and watches to the movies and female admirers.
With help from Mason and Sons, the original tailor of 007 himself, we have an expert overview on their style. Bespoke British tailors Church and Clements took a look at the functionality when it comes to suits, seeing whether they were the right fit to help Bond get the job done.
The hard numbers and data have been pulled together and totalled to find who really is the ultimate 007 so far.
Who is the best James Bond?
|Actor||Character Correlation Index||Watch Value||Style||Functionality||Film Rating||Female 007 Fans Rating||Total|
#1 Sean Connery (1962-1971)
In terms of style and sophistication, no-one matched Connery. Whether it was an interesting background (he loved to write poetry and almost became a professional footballer) or just an air of elegance, Connery had it all. Holding his own on the pantheon of Hollywood style icons, he had a clear impact on those he worked with. Bond Producer Cubby Broccoli’s wife Dana said “He moves like a panther.”
From his first scene to last, Sean Connery’s James Bond looked impeccable in his suits. Anthony Sinclair from Mason & Sons made all of his suits from his first moment as 007. Wearing shirts made by Turnbull Asser, Frank Foster and Lanvin, Connery wore some of the highest quality suits worn by Bond.
“Bond, James Bond,” he said wearing a Midnight Blue Shawl Collar Dinner Jacket worn during his first appearance in Dr. No, a truly iconic moment that superseded cinema and inspired men’s fashion forever.
Terrance Young, director of Dr. No, told Connery to sleep in his suits to get more comfortable - as shown in the film, they fit like a glove. The high-quality yet understated nature suited Connery’s bond perfectly.
Connery was also the trailblazer for making Bond into a man of high taste - his famous Rolex Submariner 6583 was worn for all his films. A timepiece that fitted the 007 he portrayed, the watch is valued at £733,000!
His most popular film amongst fans came in Goldfinger, which hit a 7.7 rating on IMDb and ranks in tied second with Skyfall in the Bond movies. Despite Connery’s films almost passing six decades, there is still strong appeal amongst women as his movies got positively rated by 47,473 female Bond fans. This score ranks above all but Daniel Craig, proving that his films are timeless not just with the male Bond fanatic.
His Never Say Never Again only reached a passable 6.2 and is one of the more poorly-received Bond movies in the franchise. He’s joined by Craig as the only Bonds whose opening and sequel films reached above a 7 rating - incredible not only for the fact that his films were released in the 60s but also that he was the first. A true icon in both cinema and style.
Most Memorable Moment - “Bond, James Bond.”
It’s hard to look past his introduction in Dr. No. Sat in Les Ambassadeurs Club in London, Bond delivers the line in a tone that became cinematic culture. The line was “not just good cinema, it became the signature which has run through all the Bond films,” as said producer Cubby Broccoli. Twenty-six Bond movies later, he is certainly right.
Popularity - 1st
Connery is still as popular as ever for fans. Connery-related Bond terms are searched 135,000 times on average per month, showing that his role as 007 immortalised him as a legend.
Functionality Ranking - 8/10
“Impeccable tasteful suiting always with a perfect fit - be it under his scuba gear or for those times you just have to scale a building, just the right amount of movement from his tailoring.”
Expert Style Opinion - 10/10
“If you can make a towelling onesie look acceptable, then you will clearly have no problem looking the part in a bespoke suit tailored by Anthony Sinclair. Connery looked effortlessly cool in everything he wore as James Bond.”
#2 Daniel Craig (2006-2021)
Daniel Craig kept the masculine sophistication that Bond had from the Connery era with a blend of the Brosnan vulnerability. Despite this he was arguably the most ruthless and cold 007 we have had, one his adversaries certainly feared.
Craig’s Casino Royale was an instant throwback to the suave nature of Connery. Sticking to simple yet understated suits, a typically darker tone was aimed at embleming Craig’s portrayal of a darker and deeper James Bond.
Quantum of Solace was the introduction of Tom Ford making Bond’s suits, with their iconic blend of fabrics recreating the 1960s look. All of Daniel Craig’s suits were high quality but didn’t scream of luxury, the perfect Bond look. Craig often spoke about how much he loved the throwback to peak British fashion - he loved his outfits so much that he often kept them.
His clothes also kept a sense of practicality in the field. For example in Spectre his linen and silk based clothing made them breathable and great for the Moroccan heat. Unlike other Bond’s, Daniel Craig was always prepared, whether that was a high-stakes poker game in Casino Royale or battling in the Scottish Highlands during Skyfall.
Craig has the honour of holding the highest rated Bond film in his debut Casino Royale, which scored an 8, piping Connery’s Goldfinger. His next 007 movies were hit-and-miss, this can be seen in a low rating for Quantum of Solace (6.6) compared to a high 7.7 for Skyfall. His second-to-last Bond scored a 6.8 and keeping on trend his No Time To Die is one of his best. Taking advantage of the blockbuster age, Craig’s movies in the franchise had all the glamour, excitement and thrills that a modern Bond fan could hope for. Craig also takes the top spot for most female fans, having amassed 184,574, smashing Connery’s second-place score of 47,473.
Most Memorable Moment - Straight Flushed Down The Drain
Based on Fleming’s 1953 novel, Casino Royale adapted the famous Le Chiffre scene from baccarat to Texas No-Limit Hold’em poker, aimed at making the scene more exciting and tense. Following that theme, Bond proceeds to lose $7 million dollars in a hand, kill two assassins, get poisoned and survive through a last minute defibrillation. He then comes back to win all of Le Chiffre’s money with his straight flush (a 0.0279% chance of making that hand) over Le Chiffre’s full house (a 0.09% chance) - the hand being almost a complete mathematical impossibility. Classic Bond.
Popularity - 2nd
Despite conquering the modern age of Hollywood and bringing Bond to even greater heights, Craig finds himself behind the classic and original 007, Sean Connery. This is no slight to Craig, who reinvented the role for himself and had hit after hit with his movies, exiting on No Time To Die which has received acclaim. By all accounts, a fantastic showing as 007 and a great way to exit the stage.
Functionality Ranking - 9/10
“Cut close, yet often unstructured for that effortless slim fit, in breathable cloths which allow him to stay cool jet setting around the globe moving from London to Cuba and everywhere in-between with ease.”
Expert Style Opinion - 9/10
“Stylistically, the return to classic Bond style was very well received. It’s just a shame that the tailoring was cut so close to the body… I doubt there’d be much room for a concealed weapon.”
#3 Sir Roger Moore (1973-1985)
Always in a ‘Best Bond’ discussion, Moore’s impact was immediate and noticeable straight off the bat with his debut Live and Let Die. A suave wardrobe and a sense of humour that fitted every situation, Moore carved a different type of Bond for himself.
He retained the same gravitas of Connery’s Bond whilst adding his own air of light-heartedness. Moore embraced the Naval Commander background through his Navy Regimental tie. Wearing wide peak lapels and a velvet collar, Moore took a refined and commanding presence on screen. He was also very in touch with the fashion of the time, donning a turtleneck in Live and Let Die following on from Hollywood legend Steve McQueen.
His all-black clothing with a gun holster showed a different and more menacing side to Bond than previously shown by other actors, a trend that was picked up on by Daniel Craig later down the line.
Moore continued to add to Bond in ways never before seen. For example, he introduced Bond as a world-class skier. His bright yellow ski suit lives long in the memory for 007 fans in The Spy Who Loved Me. Moore encapsulated the 70s with his silk suits and flair. As the times and attitudes changed, it feels as if Moore was perfectly born for the seasoned debonair 007.
Sir Roger Moore took a role from someone as iconic as Connery and made it his own through clever adjustments to Bond. That in itself is a huge achievement for the actor. He seemed to maintain his films to a solid standard - never blockbusters, but never flops either. His opening film Live and Let Die hit 6.8 which was followed with a 6.7 in The Man With The Golden Gun before his best, The Spy Who Loved Me which hit his highest 7.1.
His movies declined slowly before an abrupt ending with a 6.3 in A View to a Kill. For Your Eyes Only or Octopussy both achieved above 6.5 and are held in high esteem by Bond fans. Some of the novelties of Moore’s Bond’s always did well, whether it was Christopher Walken playing the villain or having Octopussy set in India.
Moore’s witty and seductive nature saw him get positively rated by 13,118 women with their specific favourite being The Spy Who Loved Me.
Most Memorable Moment - Alligator Stepping Stones
Roger Moore’s James Bond was so likeable and enjoyable because it lacked seriousness at times and bordered on the surreal.
In his debut Live and Let Die, the mysticism was high as it flirted with the idea of the afterlife. Using alligators as stepping stones only took it to another level.They even got a stuntman to step on real alligators opposed to using fakes!
Popularity - 3rd
Sir Roger Moore’s humour, panache and ability to add levity to any situation made his role so unique from the others.
This approach has garnered him a huge swathe of Bond fans that have him highest on the mantle. Sir Roger Moore still averages 22,200 Google searches relating to James Bond every month - placing him at third and cementing his place as one of the premier 007s.
Functionality Ranking - 9/10
“The first Bond to step away from tailoring from time to time; he only wears a suit when appropriate, oversized collars and flares the norm for his karate kicking ways. Fluidity is Roger’s style so he can switch between kicking baddies and bedding ladies at the rise of an eyebrow.”
Expert Style Opinion - 8/10
“We had the pleasure and privilege of making clothes for Sir Roger following the retirement of his friend and former tailor Doug Hayward. He oozed charisma and was another man who could make most things look good.”
#4 Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002)
Pierce Brosnan portrayed a Bond that was cool and calculating, with a touch of vulnerability that had not been seen before. His time as a detective in Remington Steele almost perfectly set him up for a new, refined type of James Bond. It was written in the stars for Brosnan, who watched Goldfinger as his first film. Despite undertaking four films in seven years, the Irishman produced some of the highest-rated and best-grossing Bond films.
Sticking to the luxurious Brioni-made suits during his tenure, Brosnan set a precedent for Daniel Craig wearing the luxurious brand. The 1990s and the high level of luxury was a match made in heaven for Brosnan who never looked out of place in high-line Italian suits.
The incredibly lightweight nature of his clothing make some of his suits the most practical of all Bonds, allowing him to also carve a new role of ‘ruthless businessman’ which was far away from the Connery-style ‘secret agent playboy’ 007 that we were used to.
With a lot of his films being set in cold-weather environments, Brosnan typically wore extra thick coats that looked like a suit of armour. Not only did he have the most functional sense of style but he also had the most versatile. He comfortably wins the functionality as one of the more vivid Brosnan-Bond memories is him wearing a military vest alongside Sean Bean in GoldenEye, even if it was American military gear. It looked great and worked, that’s all that matters for 007.
After Lazenby, Moore and Dalton all had somewhat underwhelming ratings for their debut Bond flicks, Brosnan broke the trend with GoldenEye. Ranked as one of the best Bond films going, it only sits behind Craig’s Skyfall and Casino Royale as well as Connery’s From Russia With Love and Goldfinger.
Those heights were never hit again. Tomorrow Never Dies slumped to a 6.5 before The World is Not Enough reached 6.4. Unfortunately Brosnan has the notoriety of being in the worst rated Bond film of all time in Die Another Day - of which one critic said: “Impossibly bad and utterly unmissable”.
Most Memorable Moment - “For England, James?”
One of the biggest challenges a Bond actor had was to find balance. Whether it was the Connery charm, Dalton's ruthlessness or Moore’s humour, every Bond struggled to find different gears.
Brosnan may arguably have been the first who could make quips and zoom around Monaco in a style whilst also going on to drop his best friend off a Cuban satellite. Sean Bean starred as the fantastic Bond villain 006 Alec Trevlyan, and to his question, “For England, James?”, Brosnan replied: “No. For me.” It doesn’t get much more ruthless than that.
Popularity - 4th
Pierce Brosnan could be the most divisive Bond on this list. He garnered a huge fan base for his new style of Bond, but was also the one to fully modernise him too. Brosnan also fully took to the role as Bond, helping the franchise develop in video games like the cult classic GoldenEye.
Functionality Ranking - 8/10
“Precision is the key for Brosnan’s Bond with sharp cut suits for getaways and meetings alike. Sleeves cut high under the arm for speed of movement and manoeuvrability.”
Expert Style Opinion - 8/10
“We reflect on this period with some lament. Pierce always looked great, but there is an element of sadness that Bond appeared to have finally ditched his British tailor for an Italian brand… and traded his Aston for a BMW.”
#5 Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)
Credit has to be given to Timothy Dalton for taking away the lighthearted playboy 007 and returning more to Fleming’s vision of a more gritty and cold James Bond. Dalton’s commitment to the role was evident as he was often seen reading novels on set and making the demand to the producers to go back to a harder and more menacing Bond.
Dalton did receive praise for performing his own stunts. Whilst he does not get the acclaim of a Moore or Connery today, at the time many commented on his believability of being a double agent and was scheduled to do more Bond films before legal battles between studio and producers put the franchise on hold.
Making the character morally complex was something Dalton did fantastically - he was just like the bad guys; he killed, he was ruthless, he even looked like them. As Dalton said himself, he “happened to be on the good side.”
Most memorable for his 1980s power suit, Dalton’s Bond broke the trend of Bond and went against the fashion of the time. Critics called his wearing of the suit ‘sloppily worn’ as his ill-fitting suits despite him wearing double-pleated trousers fitting of the 80s.
Bond fans had got used to how much 007 took care of his clothes, going right back to Connery’s portrayal. Dalton however took the polar opposite approach, prioritising function over fashion. Most memorable is his tactile-tux, which was a dinner jacket that folded into a sniper’s garment. A tough one to spot was Dalton’s timepiece of choice - we managed to spot a TAG Heuer Professional Diver whilst he prepared his rifle at the window in The Living Daylights.
Dalton’s The Living Daylights was a complete change from Moore’s humour and jokes - the films became more serious and resonated with the die-hard Bond fans. Dalton scored an average of 6.65 for both of his movies, with his first being his best. Licence To Kill didn’t do as well but was still a good film all in all, scoring a comfortable 6.6.
Surprisingly Dalton’s cold and vengeful Bond scored well with the female audience as 10,467 gave him acclaim for his performance, with their favourite being The Living Daylights.
Most Memorable Moment - Inspirational Parachuting
Dalton’s Bond films had a lot of unique moments but few were as memorable as his opening parachute scene in The Living Daylights - so memorable that Christopher Nolan used it as inspiration for the opening scene in The Dark Knight.
Popularity - 5th
Dalton is rarely in the discussion for the best 007 - despite being the closest Bond that Fleming envisioned when writing the books. He sits in a comfortable 5th, way ahead of Lazenby with his 9,900 James Bond searches per month.
Functionality Ranking - 7/10
“Tactical is the name of the game here, as Dalton’s dinner suits for missions in black are tailored big and billowy for ease of movement - With that much cloth – there is the option of the suit doubling as a parachute should the need arise.”
Expert Style Opinion - 7/10
“Recognised retrospectively as a fine actor, his wardrobe is probably less memorable. Always smartly dressed, but not many standout pieces.”
#6 George Lazenby (1969)
Australian actor George Lazenby was the only official Bond to be a one-and-done with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Whilst not the most memorable movie, Lazenby continued the early traditions set by Connery.
His three-piece herringbone suit was the typical London business attire of the time, giving him a sophisticated look as 007. A more clean-cut and trimmed Bond, his Dimi Taylor suits gave Bond a more 60s and modern approach at the time. Ruffled dress shirts were fitting at the time, full of British flair.
Lazenby actually got his Bond role by wearing a Savile Row suit and Rolex Submariner wristwatch ordered by Connery. Despite being pencilled in for more Bonds he called it quits after the one. Lazenby believed he wasn’t being listened to by the directors and was called “bloody impossible” by his co-star Diana Rigg.
Whilst his time as Bond was short-lived, his style made an instant impression and continued to grow the phenomenon of a stylish secret agent.
Whilst On Her Majesty’s Secret Service only received a 6.7 it scored well for those who grew up with Lazenby as their Bond - male and female fans over 45 rated it the highest of all age groups. Despite getting almost a cult status within the Bond fandom, he has the lowest number of female admirers, falling almost double below Timothy Dalton with 4,055.
Most Memorable Moment - The Opening Gun-Barrel Scene
Lazenby may have only done one Bond film but there’s no question that he made it his own. A good example of this came when he dropped to one knee when shooting in the opening gun-barrel introduction. He told IndieWire “If you want to turn around and shoot somebody, you don’t want to be standing up.”
Popularity - 5th
It will probably come as no surprise that Lazenby ranks as the least popular Bond, just falling behind Timothy Dalton. The Australian saw himself last in Bond-related searches, sitting at an average of 5,400 per month. This falls behind Dalton’s 9,900 and almost four times less than Roger Moore.
Functionality Ranking - 6/10
“All frills and no thrills for Lazenby with dress shirts and kilts for winter jaunts in the alps when you absolutely must be able to move freely. Easily the worst and most dull tailoring for Bond.”
Expert Style Opinion - 8/10
“Lazenby borrowed a suit from Anthony Sinclair for the audition that he gate-crashed for the role of 007 - it worked - but he went on to be dressed by another tailor for the film. Not quite as classic as Connery, but some memorable pieces… especially the ruffled shirt fronts.”
To create the data set we researched a number of things, using Google search data to find out which actor had been most searched alongside ‘James Bond’ and used an annual average. This allowed us to find which actor correlated with the character the most.
We looked at how much their film-worn watch had been auctioned/valued and used this total to rank in order. For the suits and outfits, we worked with Mason and Sons (who originally tailored Sean Connery his suit for Bond) to give each actor a ranking out of ten for their style and functionality.
In order to get accurate data on the film ratings and fan demographics, we used IMDb data and isolated the ratings by gender to get the female fans, as well as using the ratings per film to come up with an average per actor. After this, we created an index score to find out who is truly the best Bond of all time.