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Cursed Films Released After an Actor’s Death
Many moving parts go into a film’s production. From the cast of actors to the camera operators, set designers, audio technicians and other crew members, many key roles are essential, and the loss of any one of them could be devastating to a film’s final product. Besides losing a director, the worst upheaval often stems from the unexpected death of a key actor before a movie is completed.
Through technology and recasts — depending on when the death occurred — movies can sometimes still be completed and released posthumously. The bigger question might be whether that’s the best choice, considering some films have seemed downright cursed after the death of a key player. Take a look!
Back in the days of Old Hollywood, producers were in charge of more than just production. They also controlled the ins and outs of the lives of their star actresses. One of the most gut-wrenching examples of this was young Jean Harlow, who died at the age of 26.
About 90% of her film Saratoga was complete when she died, and the crew had to finish her parts with body doubles and voice actors to imitate her signature sound. The film was a success, but the studio — MGM — constantly faced financial troubles after that.
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Because he was one of the originators of the romantic comedy genre, audiences usually clamored to score a spot in the theater for Ernst Lubitsch’s latest film in the throes of Old Hollywood. However, his 1942 film To Be or Not to Be — released in the months following actress Carole Lombard’s death — was not very successful.
After his leading lady died in a plane crash, Lubitsch’s film went over quite poorly with audiences. They were confounded by the story, which relentlessly mocked the very real threat of Nazi Germany during World War II.
Brass Monkey (1948)
Believe it or not, the sensationalism of the tabloid magazine is not a new phenomenon. They have been around since the very beginning of Hollywood, and audiences have almost always been obsessed with the inner workings of the lives of their favorite stars.
When Carole Landis committed suicide before the release of 1948’s Brass Monkey — allegedly because of heartbreak over actor Rex Harrison’s rejection — moviegoers wanted to flock to see the film. However, once they learned that it was nothing to write home about, critics and audiences proceeded to ignore it.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
James Dean had barely gotten started when he was tragically killed in a car accident. Appearing in his first major screen role just months before in Elia Kazan’s East of Eden , Dean passed away before Rebel Without a Cause could be released.
Today, the film might be the role he’s most known for, although he didn’t live to enjoy the fame. Back then, the movie was almost universally panned by critics. The only reason it made so much money, according to experts at the time, was because of the spectacle of Dean’s death — not because of the quality of the movie.
High Society (1956)
A musical remake of the 1940 smash hit The Philadelphia Story , 1956’s High Society had plenty going for it to potentially transcend (or at least divert itself from) the success of its source material. Featuring the great Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly, what could go wrong?
As it turned out, the death of one of the main actors was something no one could have predicted. This sort of thing generally sours a film, and High Society was no exception. Actor Louis Calhern’s death in the months leading up to the release essentially stained it.
The Misfits (1961)
Some actors are certainly a lot harder to work with than others. This is a lesson that Clark Gable knew better than almost anyone. In fact, the troubles he faced trying to get along with Marilyn Monroe during the filming of 1961’s The Misfits are often blamed for his death before the film’s release.
The Misfits didn’t just claim the life of Clark Gable, though. Less than one year later, Gable’s co-star Marilyn Monroe also lost her life, leading to rumors that The Misfits could be one of the most cursed movies ever.
The Exorcist (1973)
Widely regarded as one of the most cursed movies ever made, it only makes sense that 1973’s The Exorcist would be mentioned here. Naturally, this movie would include a posthumous performance from not just one actor, but two: Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros.
The problems with The Exorcist go far beyond the simple fact that these two actors passed before the film’s release. Many reports claim that the set itself was haunted throughout the film’s shoot, with all kinds of spooky goings-on practically becoming commonplace for the cast and crew.
Enter the Dragon (1973)
There’s simply no better martial artist in cinema than Bruce Lee. This is basically a fact at this point. With nearly four decades between his death and the present day, his legacy is continually honored, and his image still as recognizable today as it was back then.
Unfortunately for the cast and crew of Enter the Dragon , Lee died before the now-famous film could be completed. His death during production would eventually be repeated with his own son, making his legacy of martial artistry — and a potential curse — a dark shadow on a sadder tradition.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Based on the success of the television show of the same name, 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie should have gone off without a hitch. Bringing together three of the biggest names in sci-fi and fantasy filmmaking at the time to reproduce three classic episodes, the film was as mysterious and dark as an episode of the series itself.
Unfortunately, the film directed by John Landis claimed three lives — two children and a leading actor — in a helicopter accident. To make matters worse, the scene in question potentially violated California labor laws involving children. Criminal charges were filed, and various lawsuits followed.
Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)
When you put the word “curse” in the movie’s title, it seems like you’re more or less asking for trouble to happen. This was the case with 1983’s Curse of the Pink Panther , one of two films in the Pink Panther series made in the wake of actor Peter Sellers’ death.
Co-star David Niven was boosted to a more prominent role in the wake of Sellers’ passing, but he also passed in the days that preceded Curse of the Pink Panther ‘s release. Clearly, Peter Sellers was considered irreplaceable by the man upstairs.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
Like The Exorcist , the Poltergeist films have ended up carrying with them a terrifyingly cursed reputation that far exceeds the scares on-screen. For the Poltergeist movies, the deaths of main actors almost seem like a way of life, as commonplace as a director calling “action.”
Actor Julian Beck passed away before the second film could be released, and — tragically — the franchise’s main star, little Heather O’Rourke, passed away at a devastatingly young age before the release of this sequel. Thankfully, nothing went wrong with the remake.
The Exorcist III (1990)
Speak of the devil, The Exorcist III seems to be as cursed as the first entry in the series. A second follow-up to the events of the first film — which remains one of the most highly-praised horror films ever, despite the dips in quality of its sequels — The Exorcist III can’t escape the franchise’s reputation.
An incredibly strange sequel, the movie saw actress Barbara Baxley die two months before the movie’s premiere. It lives on as one of the weirdest horror sequels to come out of the 20th century.
Canadian Bacon (1995)
First and foremost, Michael Moore is a documentary filmmaker. He has tried his hand at acting before and has even attempted stage shows in the past, but at the end of the day, he is always going to be known best for his documentaries. At one point, he even tried doing comedic films.
John Candy starred in Moore’s first — and only (so far) — fictional film titled Canadian Bacon . Strangely, the movie was as political as his other films but untethered from reality. Candy passed away before the movie’s release. Maybe Moore should have taken it as a sign.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Like Curse of the Pink Panther in 1983, it’s more than likely that the producers of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers sealed their own fate when they decided to include the word “curse” in the title of their film.
In addition to many horror movies naturally carrying a “cursed” reputation, this Halloween sequel also saw the death of main character actor 0 in the months that followed the final days of shooting. The movie was ultimately a complete hack job, cut to pieces in the post-production editing process.
The Crow (1994)
Just like his father before him, Bruce Lee’s son Brandon tragically passed before the completion of what would be his final film. An aspiring actor who hoped to one day reach the heights of his father, Brandon was robbed of the opportunity in an accidental shooting.
The movie took quite some time to complete after Lee’s inopportune death. While it was well-received upon its eventual release more than a year later, the movie was ultimately destined to live in the shadow of the fateful incident that occurred on set. That is its curse.
Cult classics don’t have to be good. If there was a cult classic rulebook, that would be rule number one. Look at Waterworld , for example. The 1995 Kevin Costner vehicle was almost universally panned and a total flop here in the United States. As it happens, it may have also been cursed.
Actor Rick Aviles, who had a supporting role in the infamous Waterworld , died before the movie premiered. Could Aviles’ death be the source of the blame for the film’s horrendous performance? While it probably would have flopped, regardless, it’s interesting to consider.
Lost Highway (1997)
Leave it to David Lynch to create one of the most cursed films of the 1990s. While it features only one posthumous performance, the entirety of Lost Highway radiates an ominous sense of fear that seems to have seeped into the lives of the other actors as well.
Lynch favorite Jack Nance died a mysterious death before Lost Highway could be released. Co-star Robert Blake went on to be arrested for murder not long after, and co-star Richard Pryor didn’t appear in another film for the rest of his life.
Queen of the Damned (2002)
Very loosely based on the third novel in the popular Vampire Chronicles series, 2002’s Queen of the Damned was a horror movie destined to be a huge hit. Starring superstar Aaliyah as the titular evil royal, the film was halted when the singer-actress was killed in a plane crash.
A year later when the film was finally completed, all hopes of it being a success were essentially tossed out. It barely made back its budget and was nearly undone by the negative reception from both critics and audiences alike.
For a movie about domestic violence and the harmful effects on the victims as well as their friends and family, it’s a horrible twist of fate that writer, director and actor Adrienne Shelly was killed before her film Waitress could be released. When you hear she died from a horrific act of violence, it just makes the death even harder to bear.
The movie has enjoyed success as of late, thanks in large part to its Broadway adaptation, but the real shame is that Shelly never got to make another film. She was destined to be a real success, and her death truncated any and all hopes of that happening.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
After playing the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film The Dark Knight , Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription medications. Many considered his untimely death to be a direct result of the psychological torment he supposedly experienced during the shoot.
While this was later disputed, his unfinished role in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus proved to be pretty troubling for the rest of the cast and crew. Four other actors were brought in to finish Ledger’s role, but — unlike The Dark Knight , which was already mostly complete — this posthumous completion resulted in the movie flopping hard.
The Last Film Festival (2016)
Dennis Hopper is a pillar of the New Hollywood movement. At a time when the moviemaking industry faced plenty of uncertainty — the focus of Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood — Hopper and friends came along and revitalized the process.
His death in 2010 was nothing short of difficult, not just for his family and friends but for the crews of the films he was working on. Still unreleased, Hopper’s final role The Last Film Festival has been shelved and considered doomed in the wake of the actor’s death.
Furious 7 (2015)
From the very beginning of the franchise, Paul Walker was the most important character in the Fast & Furious universe. It started with him, dating all the way back to 2001’s The Fast and the Furious , but after 2013, the series had to continue on without him.
His death in a car accident during the shooting of Furious 7 resulted in Walker’s role being completed through CGI and body doubles. The franchise has been on a rocky road in the years since, coming across as more unfocused and increasingly ridiculous.
Wish I Was Here (2014)
At the time, news of Zach Braff’s follow-up to his debut film Garden State was quite buzzworthy. Funded largely through Kickstarter, Wish I Was Here had both fans and audiences talking before the movie had even gone into production.
One of the film’s co-stars, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ‘s James Avery, didn’t live long enough to see the film through to the end, however. His death was an early indication that the movie wasn’t destined for the same heights as Braff’s first. It ultimately disappeared into obscurity soon after its release.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts 1 and 2 (2014, 2015)
Was there a greater actor to come out of the last few decades than Philip Seymour Hoffman? It’s not likely. Working on a slapstick comedy one day and a gripping drama the next, Hoffman’s range often surpassed his colleagues and consistently garnered praise.
His death in early 2014 meant that his final two roles — Plutarch Heavensbee in the final Hunger Games entry, Mockingjay , which was split into two parts — were released posthumously. Once intended to be a long-spanning series of main entries followed by spinoffs, The Hunger Games craze has practically vanished.
Absolutely Anything (2015)
A new movie from the Monty Python boys should have been a smash hit. Judging by the sheer amount of success achieved with earlier films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian , a brand new collaboration could have allowed the troupe to reach new heights.
2015’s Absolutely Anything , starring Simon Pegg and Robin Williams, was absolutely anything but a hit, unfortunately. Put out a year after Williams’ death, the movie was a box office failure and a critical disaster.
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Robert Loggia had a long and fascinating career. Born in 1930, the actor enjoyed all kinds of notable Hollywood roles. From An Officer and a Gentleman and Scarface to Big and Independence Day , Loggia was a character actor who refused to play the same character.
Reprising his Independence Day role for the sequel was a fun bit of news at the time, but his death six months before the film’s release cast a shadow on the whole affair. The movie was supposed to soar, but it never exceeded its predictions. Cursed or simply lacking Will Smith? It’s hard to say.
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Still a relatively up-and-coming talent at the time of this death, Anton Yelchin had just started to begin his slow, steady rise to the A-list. An absolutely fantastic performer, no matter the size of the role, Yelchin was a promising talent, and his death in 2016 still hurts today.
A supporting player in J.J. Abrams’s revived Star Trek trilogy, Yelchin’s death marked the end of the series dubbed the Kelvin Timeline. Many directors have tried and failed to get the rebooted series going again, but all efforts have been squelched before any progress was made.
The Circle (2017)
Bill Paxton was a staple of blockbuster filmmaking ever since he first appeared in the first Terminator movie in 1984. From there, he went on to be an essential part of various action franchises like Aliens , Predator 2 and various movies made by James Cameron.
His death in 2017 was a devastating blow to fans of his filmography and his franchises. His final role, a thriller starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega and Karen Gillan, should have been a sure-fire hit. It released two months after his death and flopped.
Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi’ (2017) and Star Wars – Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Carrie Fisher has always been an integral part of the Star Wars universe. One of the very first characters seen in the first entry, Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope , Fisher was a main character for six of the series’ nine films.
After her death in 2016, the final two entries in the Star Wars sequel trilogy faced a tough decision: remove her character or repurpose footage. The filmmakers went with the latter, and the films ended up being two of the most contested entries in the entire saga.
The Other Side of the Wind (2018)
Orson Welles was no amateur. He was the man responsible for the movie many consider to be the greatest of all time: 1941’s Citizen Kane . Originating as a stage director and moving into the film industry in the wake of the success of his first film, Welles enjoyed a long and successful career.
Unfortunately, he died before he could finish his final film in 1985. Titled The Other Side of the Wind , Welles’ death resulted in decades of troubles until Netflix finally managed to release it in 2018.
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No Time To Die - Full Cast & Crew
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After an old friend brings him out of retirement to rescue a kidnapped scientist, British secret service agent James Bond finds himself hunting down a mysterious villain. But he soon discovers that the threat may be greater than just one man, and is forced to confront a danger the likes of which has never been seen before.
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James Bond actors in order: The complete history of 007 stars
From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig - we take a look at all the actors to have played the iconic double agent.
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With Daniel Craig ’s final Double-O outing in No Time to Die having come and gone, we’re left wondering who will be the next James Bond - but until then, we can look back to the past at all the James Bond actors in order to see how the role has evolved over the decades.
It may be some time before the likes of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Regé-Jean Page, Idris Elba or James Norton grace this page - whoever the next Bond may be - but there is already a rich tapestry to unweave.
But by looking to the past, our own Christian Tobin reckons the original Casino Royale novel holds the secret for the next Bond film.
On that note, we’ve even done our due diligence and included David Niven and his brief stint as the very silly Bond in 1967’s Casino Royale for propensity’s sake.
We’ll also risk the wrath of our dear readers and rank who we think played Bond best, but we don’t think our selection will prove too controversial. We won’t blame you if you think it makes us the best Bond villain , though.
James Bond actors in order
If you just want a quick refresher on who played Mr Bond over the decades, then we have a bulleted list just for you.
- Sean Connery – 1962 - 1967, 1971, 1983
- David Niven – 1967
- George Lazenby – 1969
- Roger Moore – 1973 - 1985
- Timothy Dalton – 1987 - 1989
- Pierce Brosnan – 1995 - 2002
- Daniel Craig – 2006 - 2021
If that didn't quite whet your appetite, then read on for more detailed entries on each of the Bond actors, the films they were in and some of the behind-the-scenes facts as to how and why the iconic role was cast.
Sean Connery (1962–1967, 1971 and 1983)
Films: Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever, Never Say Never Again (Non-EON production)
Sean Connery was the very first actor to play James Bond, and is still considered by many as the best 007. Indeed, the Scot topped a RadioTimes.com poll to determine the public's favourite Bond .
Connery played the character on a total of seven occasions, including the first five Bond films. After he passed on appearing in film number six - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - he then returned in 1971's Diamonds are Forever, before reprising the role one last time for the non-official film Never Say Never Again.
Interestingly, the choice of Connery was initially not supported by Bond author Ian Fleming , who believed he didn't possess the elegance required for the role, and indeed Connery's portrayal of the character does differ somewhat from that in the books, playing up his promiscuity and adding a certain degree of cold-bloodedness.
Connery died at the age of 90 on 31st October 2020.
David Niven (1967)
Films : Casino Royale (Non-EON production)
Bonus mention for David Niven – although he did play Bond in 1967's Casino Royale, he is not considered an official big-screen 007, since that film was not produced by EON Productions.
Interestingly, Niven had been Ian Fleming's first choice for the role before Connery was cast, with the author considering him a closer match for the character.
In his only appearance, Niven was 56, and his portrayal was that of an older Bond - one who had won a Victoria Cross, was settled down with a child and enjoyed playing the piano.
George Lazenby (1969)
Films : On Her Majesty's Secret Service
By far the shortest-lived official Bond, George Lazenby lasted just one film - On His Majesty's Secret Service - in the role, before Connery returned for Diamonds are Forever.
Lazenby was relatively unknown when he took on the character, and although his performance has often come in for criticism, he nonetheless won praise in some quarters at the time - including a nomination at the Golden Globe Awards for New Star of the Year.
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He was reportedly talked out of appearing in future films after his agent warned that the image of the secret agent would fall out of fashion in the '70s - he may well have regretted that decision!
Roger Moore (1973-1985)
Films : Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill
Daniel Craig might have overtaken Moore as the longest-serving Bond in terms of timespan, but when it comes to the number of official films, Moore is still number one.
Before taking on the role, Moore was best known for his work on the small screen - with notable roles in The Saint and The Persuaders, both shows in which he played parts with certain similarities to Bond.
Moore's Bond is considered more light-hearted than the iterations that came before, with a touch more humour injected into the films while he was the star, and he's also often been described as the most elegant Bond.
The actor also incorporated some of his own tastes and fashions into his portrayal of the character - including his use of Cuban cigars as opposed to cigarettes, and his penchant for wearing safari suits.
Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)
Films : The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill
Dalton was cast as Bond shortly after Moore's retirement, and despite going on to appear in only two films, he remains a popular 007 - recently coming second in our aforementioned poll after bagging 32 per cent of the vote.
After the more light-hearted version of Bond that had appeared in the previous seven films, Dalton's portrayal saw a shift back towards more serious-minded fare, with his 007 more stern and cold, considered a closer representation of the character as originally written by Fleming.
Dalton might have appeared in a third film if not for a legal dispute regarding the licensing of the Bond catalogue, which pushed the next film back until 1994 - a year after his contract expired.
Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002)
Films : GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day
Brosnan had originally auditioned for the role back in 1986 before Dalton was cast, and eventually landed the role in 1994 prior to making his first appearance in GoldenEye a year later.
His portrayal of the character blended some of the aspects seen in both Connery's Bond and Moore's Bond - he was suave, witty and rather more light-hearted, with his tenure seeing a lot more jokes than Dalton's, but he also often displayed the old-fashioned grit and machismo that had been associated with the character over the years.
Brosnan's Bond is also well-known for being chastised by M in GoldenEye as being a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur" - a sign of the change in attitudes from the Connery era. Brosnan had wished to appear in a fifth film, but after negotiations stalled, he stood down in 2004.
Daniel Craig (2006-2021)
Films: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, No Time to Die
Most recent 007 Daniel Craig made his first appearance as the double-0 agent in 2006's Casino Royale - which was considered by many fans and critics the best Bond film for some time, and immediately pointed to a move back to more gritty material.
Prior to his first appearance, some fans had criticised the casting choice given Craig's appearance, which wasn't considered a close match for Bond due to his hair colour, eye colour and height - while it was also suggested he lacked the suaveness of the character.
However, after Casino Royale was released, Craig won over most of his critics - and although the quality of films has varied since, he is now considered by many to be a top-tier Bond.
Craig initially hinted that he was ready to step down after Spectre - but decided to return for one last film, making him the longest-serving Bond of all time.
Best James Bond actors ranked
While we posed the question of who is the best Bond to our readers in a the poll mentioned above, we've donned our critic hat to mull it over ourselves, too. While we don't think any of the actors were bad, per se, here is who we think did it best.
- Daniel Craig
- Sean Connery
- Timothy Dalton
- Pierce Brosnan
- Roger Moore
- George Lazenby
- David Niven
Sacrilegious? We think Craig has afforded Bond the most depth out of the bunch, grounded the series and fashioned him into a character that respects the progress society has made since Fleming first penned Casino Royale in 1952.
Who could ever forget the opening to Craig's debut involving Bond, an unfortunate baddie and a sink? It certainly set the tone for what was to come.
Which actor played Bond for the longest?
In terms of timespan, Daniel Craig is the longest-serving Bond of all time , with 15 years passing between his debut in Casino Royale (2006) and his swan song in No Time To Die (2021).
But both Sean Connery and Roger Moore actually played the character in more films than Craig. Connery appeared in six official movies (not including the non-Eon production Never Say Never Again). while Moore still holds the record for starring in the most, with seven films in a twelve-year stretch between 1973 and 1985.
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James Bond Crew
Guy Hamilton was the second director of the James Bond series. He directed Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Guy was an assistant director for The Third Man (1949) and even doubled for Orson Welles! He also worked with producer Harry Saltzman on the two non-bond films Funeral in Berlin (1966) and The Battle of Britain (1969)
John Glen is a British director and editor, who directed 5 James Bond movies including: For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987) and License to Kill (1989). He was also the editor and 2nd unit director for OHMSS, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
Sam Mendes is an English film director and theatre enthusiast, who is best known for directing the 1999 film American Beauty, and the upcoming Bond 23 film, Skyfall. Daniel Craig said of Mendes: We have to do this together, we have exactly the same reference points, we both like the same Bond movies and we both like the same bits in the same Bond movies we like.
Terence young was a sucessful director and the first ever James Bond Director. He directed Dr. No, From russia with love and Thunderball along with many non-bond films.
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Cast & Crew
Every James Bond Actor to Play the Role
There have been 7 total actors who have played james bond.
If someone asks you what your favorite spy movie is, it’s nearly impossible to keep James Bond from coming to mind. With gadgets, gizmos, guns, girls, and goons, James Bond is the gallant good guy who introduced the global audience to the thrill of on-screen espionage. Though the world has had time to reflect on the shortcomings of this flawed character and his over-the-top machismo, Bond remains one of the most exemplary and immortal characters to ever exist in modern media. Though James Bond has been present in film (and literature) for 70+ years, there seems to be no end in sight as new actors for new iterations are considered for the role every decade or so.
How many James Bond Actors are There?
The most iconic movie spy of all time, James Bond has been portrayed by multiple actors since his film debut in 1962. There are a total of 7 actors who have played the role of our beloved spy: Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. All have brought their own unique twist to the character and all are worthy of mention in this article.
1. Sean Connery – 1962 - 1967, 1971, 1983
Films : Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever, Never Say Never Again (Non-EON production)
Best known for his role as James Bond (despite having almost 100 acting credits on IMDB), Connery is undoubtedly the best and most favored to have ever portrayed the slick, sexy spy. Though Connery very much earned the title, being the first to step into these metaphorically gigantic shoes must have been more like tailor-made dress shoes for him. Starring in what are, to this day, a few of the best Bond movies of all time (Goldfinger, Dr. No), the story of his success after these films is no mystery to unravel.
2. David Niven – 1967
Films : Casino Royale (Non-EON production)
A truly one-of-a-kind portrayal comes from the comedic prowess of David Niven: an unfortunately, largely forgotten role from a top-line British actor. As the only spoof movie on this list, Niven stands out in uniqueness but falls short due to the absolutely polarizing tone of this one-off film. While this film garnered a cult following over the years despite its critical reception, fans of Bond are quick to forget it amongst the crowd.
3. George Lazenby – 1969
Films : On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The only actor to portray Bond only once – in a serious role, that is – is George Lazenby: an unjustly hated replacement for Sean Connery at the time. While his acting was indeed in the lower rankings of the 7 iterations, the immediate hatred he received even before the film's release ensured his fate as a one-and-done James Bond. Over 50 years after its release, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has been hailed as more of a gem to audiences than had been originally perceived. Some even say that, at its core, it is one of the best Bond films but give little credit to poor George.
4. Roger Moore – 1973 - 1985
Films : Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill
Holding the record for most Bond films starred in, Roger Moore steps in for an impressive 12-year, 7-film streak as James Bond. Though the quality of the films he starred in greatly varies, Moore became a pill much easier for audiences and fans to swallow. Bringing more of a cheeky, goofy quality to the character, the average Roger Moore Bond film is noticeably more campy than the Sean Connery predecessors but ultimately checks all the boxes that a Bond film should.
5. Timothy Dalton – 1987 - 1989
Films : The Living Daylights, License to Kill
One of the more arguably underrated actors to portray Bond is Timothy Dalton: Mr. Eyebrows himself. While he ultimately undersold audiences resulting in his measly two-film streak, Dalton brought a quality of darkness to the character that would change the tone of Bond films forever. As usual, the focus is always on the actor portraying the character rather than the film itself, which is why these two arguably underrated Bond films have been largely overlooked – probably also since License to Kill has been quite a popular film title since.
6. Pierce Brosnan – 1995 - 2002
Films : GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day
Commonly referred to as the second best (for some, the best) actor to play Bond, Pierce Brosnan with his sharp looks and undeniable charm was almost immediately accepted by viewers and critics alike. Helped along by the nearly-perfected Bond film formula, Pierce combined all the greatest things about past iterations and made it his own. Though the films are a bit over-the-top at times, the representation of all Bond film elements can be seen through a whole new lens that makes them truly unique.
7. Daniel Craig – 2006 - 2021
Films : Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, No Time to Die
Another actor to be severely criticized even before his first Bond film release, Daniel Craig has since carved out his very own, very special streak of Bond films that are now seen as a great re-imagining of what Bond films can be. As the first series of Bond movies to follow a clear chronological order and continuation of events, Craig was given the rare chance to develop this character into a dark, embittered, lonely narrative with an earth-shattering conclusion. These films also broke the fourth wall a bit by cementing the concept into the canon that 007 is just a number: when he is gone, another comes to take his place as 007.
Who is your favorite Bond?
How to Watch the James Bond Movies in Order
If you’re looking for a more detailed list of how to watch all of the movies by actor or release date, look no further than our guide to the James Bond movies in order . While most of the Bond films do not follow a continued narrative throughout the timeline, it’s still very useful to have a full list of all the Bond films, their release dates, and who is starring in each one.
Connor Sheppard is an Oregon-grown culture writer for IGN. Intrigued from a young age by pop culture and movies, he has developed into an experienced critic and consumer of all things media. From his time earning a bachelor's degree in digital communications at Oregon State University, he found a love for writing and appreciating specific actors and directors in the many films he watches.
All 8 actors who have played james bond in a movie.
As No Time to Die quickly approaches, let's take a look back at all eight men who have brought the world's most famous spy to life.
While there are typically six actors associated with the name "James Bond", there are actually a few more men who have taken up the 007 mantle than most people think. The newest Bond film, No Time to Die , is quickly approaching its April release date, which will mark the 25th film featuring the world's most famous super-spy. Starring Daniel Craig in his fourth outing as 007, No Time to Die is a continuation of the events of Spectre , in which Bond seemingly quits MI6 to elope with his love interest Madeline Swann.
Also reprising their roles and returning for Craig's final installment as Bond are Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, and Christoph Waltz as Blofeld. Jeffrey Wright, who has been absent from the franchise since Quantum of Solace , will also be returning to the franchise as Felix Leiter. As well as the returning cast, No Time to Die will also feature a few notable newcomers, including Academy Award winner Rami Malek as the villain Safin, Lashana Lynch as the MI6 agent who has taken the 007 mantle in Bond's absence, and Ana de Armas as Paloma, whose role in the film is currently a mystery.
Related: No Time to Die Theory: James Bond 25's Villain is Secretly Dr. No
With such a strong cast, No Time to Die is shaping up to be a strong final outing for Daniel Craig, which is a much-needed change after the lackluster Spectre . Helping the film's chances are its creative team, which includes Emmy-winning writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge ( Fleabag) , and director Cary Joji Fukunaga ( Beasts of No Nation ). In a recent shake-up, Hans Zimmer was added as the film's composer , (leaving him with only a few months to complete the entire score) and Billie Eilish will sing the movie's opening theme. In anticipation of No Time to Die , let's take a look back at all of the actors who have portrayed James Bond on film.
Barry Nelson - 1954
If that name sounds unfamiliar to you, you're not alone. Although Sean Connery is the actor most frequently credited with originating the role of James Bond, he actually stepped into the signature tuxedo eight years after Barry Nelson, the first man to play James Bond on screen. If that isn't shocking enough, here's another surprise: Nelson was an American. That's right - the first man to play the famed British spy James Bond was actually an American actor. Nelson took on the role in an anthology episode of the television series Climax! based on the Ian Fleming novel Casino Royale . However, Nelson never stepped continued the role outside of the single episode, and the story of James Bond wasn't picked up again until 1962.
Sean Connery - 1962-1967, 1971, and 1983
Sean Connery was the first (and arguably most iconic) actor to play 007, beginning his decade-spanning career as James Bond with the 1962 film Dr. No . Connery was originally considered not "classy" or "suave" enough for the role of Bond and was even doubted by Ian Fleming himself, whose choice for Bond was more along the lines of studio suggestions like Cary Grant. However, Connery's sex appeal and charm eventually won him the role, and he went on to immortalize the character in Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball , You Only Live Twice , Diamonds are Forever , and Never Say Never Again .
Bob Simmons - 1962-1964
Another name that may be unfamiliar to many readers, Bob Simmons portrayed James Bond in the same films as Sean Connery- just in a much more brief way. Simmons was Connery's stunt double and was used during the filming of the now-iconic gun barrel sequence. Nowadays the actor who plays Bond also portrays him in the gun barrel sequence, but because the sequence was designed to only feature Bond in profile, there was no need to use Connery himself in the scene. While it may be more of a technicality than anything else, Simmons can still add his name to the small list of men who have played Bond.
Related: The Next James Bond Is Definitely NOT A Woman
David Niven - 1967
Although modern audiences may be more familiar with Casino Royale as the intense 2006 thriller starring Daniel Craig as 007, there was also a '60s adaptation of the novel with a decidedly less serious approach. David Niven portrayed James Bond in the 1967 Casino Royale , which is one of the few Bond films not produced by Eon. The film itself sees James Bond in retirement and is more of a wacky parody than the kind of film modern audiences traditionally associate with the franchise. Despite the film's odd tone and poor critical reception, Niven was considered the perfect actor to play Bond by author Ian Fleming, so his run as the iconic spy can't be considered a total failure.
George Lazenby - 1969
After Sean Connery left the role in 1967 (only to be convinced to return in subsequent years) one film was made in the interim - On Her Majesty's Secret Service, starring George Lazenby. Lazenby left the role before the film was released, even though he would go on to be nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. Despite the nomination and the positive critical reception the film received, Lazenby would never make another Bond film, making him the actor with the briefest stint in the role out of the big six.
Roger Moore - 1972-1985
Once again working around Sean Connery's sporadic involvement in the franchise is the next actor to play James Bond - Roger Moore . Moore played Bond for seven films - Live and Let Die , The Man With the Golden Gun , The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and A View to Kill. Moore was considered thanks to his extensive time as a TV actor and offered the part when Connery couldn't be convinced to return to the role. Moore was among those considered for On Her Majesty's Secret Service , but unlike Lazenby (who ended up playing Bond in that film) Moore would go on to make several successful films as 007. Moore - notably - was also the first actor from England to play James Bond in an Eon film - Connery is Scottish and Lazenby is Australian.
Timothy Dalton - 1986-1994
Moore eventually retired as Bond after admitting that he was too old for the part, and passed the role on to Timothy Dalton . Dalton had been considered for the role a few years earlier but was thought too young to accurately portray the superspy at the time. However, he won the part over Jurassic Park 's Sam Neill , and studied up by reading several of Fleming's novels before his first appearance as Bond in 1986's The Living Daylights. After his performance received mixed reviews and his films struggled to achieve the same box office numbers as Moore's, Dalton left the role only having appeared in two films.
Related: Every James Bond Movie Title Meaning Explained
Following the legal battle that halted Dalton's final films as Bond, Pierce Brosnan (who had previously been considered before being passed over for Dalton) stepped into the role. Brosnan's Bond typified what many associated with the character - his good looks and charm made him a believable international playboy as opposed to a hardened killer like Dalton's portrayal. While he maintained many traditional aspects of the character, Brosnan did away with his habit of smoking due to strong personal beliefs. Brosnan starred in four successful films - GoldenEye , Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day before stepping away from the part.
Finally, the present James Bond. After Brosnan's depart in 2004, Daniel Craig stepped up to the plate in 2005 after having been impressed with the script for Casino Royale . It's no surprise that the dark, gritty take on the classic novel drew Craig's attention - his interpretation of the character is less of a ladies man and more of a cold-blooded assassin. Craig has starred in four films - Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre . Although he once claimed in an interview that he'd never return to the role, something must have changed his mind, as his final film , No Time To Die, is set to hit theatres in April.
Read More: No Time To Die: What Needs To Happen To End Daniel Craig's Bond Story