James Bond is one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history — and yet, only a handful of actors have been fortunate enough to tackle the part.
The popular action film franchise is based on a character created by author Ian Fleming for his James Bond book series. EON Productions gained the rights to distribute all related movies in 1962, beginning with Dr. No.
Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore are among those who have served as the British spy. However, Sean Connery has often been regarded as the best actor to step into the role.
When he died in October 2020 of respiratory failure, fellow Bond actor Daniel Craig praised Connery for the way he “defined an era and a style” with his take on the character.
“The wit and charm he portrayed onscreen could be measured in megawatts; he helped create the modern blockbuster,” the Logan Lucky actor said in a statement on the official 007 website. “He will continue to influence actors and filmmakers alike for years to come.”
Craig, for his part, took his fifth and final leap as Bond in 2021’s No Time to Die after 15 years in the role.
“I’ve had a really good run, and I think doing this movie was the right thing to do,” he told USA Today in 2019. “It was the right thing to do one more.”
With Craig stepping down from the part, several actors have been rumored to take the reins. Idris Elba has been repeatedly rumored to be a candidate for the job, but the Luther actor has shut down the possibility on numerous occasions.
“You just get disheartened when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the color of my skin,” Elba told Vanity Fair in 2019. “And then if I get it and it didn’t work or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
The Wire alum continued, “James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey. Of course, if someone said to me, ‘Do you want to play James Bond?,’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah!’ That’s fascinating to me. But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, ‘Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.’”
Though the jury is still out on who will serve as the next Bond, fans have already met the next 007. Captain Marvel actress Lashana Lynch appeared as Nomi, the next 007— taking on the character’s agent number and license to kill after he left MI6 — in No Time to Die.
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Scroll down to see all the actors who have been tasked with playing James Bond over the years: