We all know that there are many faces of James Bond. Years go by, and he doesn’t die, just changes form. It’s the conservation of Bond: Bond can neither be created or destroyed, only rearranged. So far we have had six Bonds: Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, and Craig (this is only considering the official 23 films). Based on my own personal preference as well as personal opinions of others I will rank them from best to worst accordingly: Connery, Craig, Brosnan, Dalton, Moore, and Lazenby. This ranking is not up for debate nor the major point of this post; I’m merely going to use it as a reference point for the discussion to come. The discussion to come is: evaluating the various hypothetical performances as 007 of those who have never actually played him.
Grant was initially wanted to play the part of Bond. Hmmm… I think that would have worked quite well. The only danger with it I guess is that Cary Grant is just too “Cary Grant” to be James Bond, he was already such a big star by that time. Plus he would have been a bit old, but since when does that stop anybody. I think Grant’s suave enough to pull this off, and also goofy enough to actually say all of those cheesy lines that Bond has. The way I see it, Grant’s hypothetical performance in Dr. No should be a combination of his performances in Notorious (suave) and Bringing Up Baby (cheesy). He ranks in between Craig and Brosnan.
I’ve only seen him in one film, it’s an early Hitchcock. Something about a British guy riding on trains trying to clear his wrongfully accused name just says Bond to me I guess. Donat starred in Goodbye Mr. Chips for which he won a Best Actor Oscar in 1939, and The 39 Steps, which is the early Hitchcock film I was talking about earlier. There is a scene where he’s sneaking out of a train, because he is wrongfully accused of murdering a woman and has just been recognized, and he just climbs out the window, hangs on the outside of the train for awhile, and then climbs back in another window into another train compartment. That’s pretty James Bond of him. So for that scene in The 39 Steps, I’d hypothetically have him play Bond in From Russia With Love and totally dominate Robert Shaw on that train. This plan could only work in hypothetical land of course, because he died in 1958, before any of the Bond films were made. His hypothetical performance is pretty solid, ranking in between Connery and Craig.
Peter O’Toole is a personal favorite of mine. His most famous role is undoubtedly TE Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, which is one of my all time favorite films. I guess I could argue Lawrence’s Bond-like qualities, but I actually have a different and more obscure film in mind to illustrate this: How to Steal a Million. How to Steal a Million is pretty much your basic romantic heist comedy from 1966 starring Peter O’Toole, Audrey Hepburn, and Hugh Griffith, who are all pretty much the reasons to watch the film. Hepburn’s character thinks he’s an art thief, but doesn’t find out until the end what we’ve known all along: he’s actually the good guy. He was just so classy and refined in this film. In the words of that random fangirl from Singin in the Rain: “[he's] so refined, I think I’ll kill myself.” Maybe this is just me, but I think it would work beautifully. Also, I think he has the perfect accent to play Bond. I would put O’Toole from How to Steal a Million into Casino Royale so we can watch him classily beat the heck out of Le Chiffre at poker. Hypothetically, this beats out even Connery, but that’s just me. Bond fans, I am prepared to face your wrath.
Obi Wan Kenobi! Yup, Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars II and III is the McGregor performance I’m going with. The reason is this: he is way cooler than Anakin in those movies, and he’s knows it. He’s always has this air of “Anakin, what the heck are you doing? You’re such an idiot!” While Anakin’s going all dark side on us, Obi Wan’s like a rock, staying on the Jedi way. He has this great superiority over Anakin the whole time, and it’s great and totally justified. Who is else is cooler than everybody and knows it? James Bond. So I’m going to put McGregor into Goldeneye, and have him battle it out with Anakin as 006 (allegorically speaking, Sean Bean’s still going to play him). He’s gonna win, of course. Anyway, I’d put his performance between Grant’s and Brosnan’s.
Yes, this is a joke. I think he would rock the cheesy 70s Bond style. Kristin Stewart could be a Bond girl with a vampire subplot. Let me emphasize again how not serious I am right now; this is a very big joke. As horrible an actor as I think Roger Moore is (have not seen Lazenby but I have assurances that he is worse), I think Pattinson as Bond would be even worse. Especially because of the Twilight baggage. In my opinion, a key part of the Bond series is the cheesiness and awfullness, so I’m going to stand by this joking decision. Edward in Live and Let Die, hopefully we can still salvage the song. I’d rank him below Lazenby. Sorry Team Edward.
So the hypothetical (with the real) Bond rankings stand as follows:
1. Peter O’Toole, 2. Sean Connery, 3. Robert Donat, 4. Daniel Craig, 5. Cary Grant, 6. Ewan McGregor, 7. Pierce Brosnan, 8. Timothy Dalton, 9. Roger Moore, 10. George Lazenby, 11. Robert Pattinson
Despite my efforts to be objective, I know this post is completely biased. It’s hypothetical and I just do these things to have fun. If y’all completely disagree, comment on who your favorite hypothetical Bond would be. Even if y’all completely agree, comment anyway! I am by no means a expert on Bond or any of these actors; I basically just came up with this list by finding lists of British actors and going from there.