"James Bond is a man of honor, a symbol of value to the free world. Of course some critics say that Bond is nothing more than an actor in the movies, but then we all gotta start somewhere."
- Ronald Reagan, James Bond: The First 21 Years, 1983

"I don't have a favourite. I think Timothy Dalton was very like Ian's, as is Daniel CraigÉ because Bond feels pain. When they read the books, some of the actors say, "This is so different, because when he gets in danger he gets doubtful". George Lazenby gets pooh-poohed, but it was not a bad film. It's surprisingly tough acting to be Bond.."
- Lucy Fleming, Ian's niece, 2012[1]

"I don't think it matters who plays 007. There are theater-goers throughout the world who still think James Bond is the name of the actor."
- Bond film producer Harry Saltzman

In the novel From Russia With Love, a girl tries to flatter James Bond by saying he's like a movie star. Bond is horrified. "For God's sake! That's the worst insult you can pay a man!" he exclaims.

Television tried first. In 1954, CBS paid Ian Fleming $1,000 to adapt his novel Casino Royale into a one-hour television adventure as part of its "Climax!" series. The episode aired live on 21 October 1954 and starred Barry Nelson as "Card Sense" James 'Jimmy' Bond. It was not a success.

In 1956, the novel Moonraker was adapted for radio in Durban, by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, with Bob Holness providing the voice of Bond. In 2008, Holness told the BBC that the part "just came up through a hole in the floor"... "I was doing lots of radio plays at the time but I wanted to do something a bit different, so when James Bond came up I ventured in and said yes." He said he had never heard of the character but that it "became an amazing part to play and the response from listeners was terrific".

The BBC have adapted five of the Fleming novels for broadcast, through an independent production company founded by the husband-and-wife team of Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres, who specialize in radio dramas and ‘talking books’: in 1990, You Only Live Twice was adapted into a 90 minute radio play for BBC Radio 4 with Michael Jayston playing James Bond. The production was repeated a number of times between 2008 and 2011. On 24 May 2008, BBC Radio 4 broadcast an adaptation of Dr. No. The actor Toby Stephens, who played Bond villain Gustav Graves in the Eon Productions version of Die Another Day, played Bond, while Dr. No was played by David Suchet. Following its success, a second story was adapted and on 3 April 2010, BBC Radio 4 broadcast Goldfinger with Stephens again playing Bond. Sir Ian McKellen was Goldfinger and Stephens' Die Another Day co-star Rosamund Pike played Pussy Galore (cast at right). The play was adapted from Fleming's novel by Archie Scottney and was directed by Martin Jarvis. In 2012 the novel From Russia, with Love was dramatized for Radio 4; it featured a full cast again starring Stephens as Bond. In May 2014 Stephens again played Bond, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, with Alfred Molina as Blofeld, and in an interesting twist on the casting, Joanna Lumley as Irma Bunt, after originally appearing as one of Blofeld's angels of death in the 1969 movie opposite George Lazenby. The recording was completed on 21st May 2013, and first broadcast on May 3rd 2014 as the 2:30pm 'Saturday Play' (pictured below).

But in 1963, the embodiment of James Bond changed from Ian Fleming's movie star-hating Hoagy Carmichael look-alike to an actor named Sean Connery. In the years following 007 would be portrayed by a number of actors, from classically trained Shakespeareans to Woody Allen (actually "Jimmy Bond") and trained seals in Casino Royale. This section deals only with the actors who played him in the Eon productions: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig.

The best interpretation of the character has always been a heated source of debate for 007 fans (although usually their opinions depend on who was playing Bond when they first saw the films). Because of this, the introduction of a new Bond has become a cinematic event, fans scrutinizing the new man's every move, whether he blinks when he fires his gun, and how closely he resembles his stunt man. As Timothy Dalton said: "Everybody knows what kind of James Bond they want. Half the world loves Sean Connery and the other half loves Roger Moore... And you know that they might all get together and hate you."

In some countries, however the transformation was smoother -- Italian voice dubber Pino Locchi was the voice of Bond in his country from the time Connery began the role, up through Timothy Dalton's reign, so although 007's face changed, his voice remained exactly the same.

Each actor gave Bond his own spin, interpereting the role through his own unique vision:

Sean Connery

George Lazenby

Roger Moore

Timothy Dalton

Pierce Brosnan

Daniel Craig

The Also-rans

  • ^ "Lucy Fleming on James Bond's anniversary, her uncle's legacy and die-hard fans", by Oliver Franklin. British GQ. 03 October 2012.

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