There is no question that the James Bond film series has been one of the most influential fictional character brands in history. Since 1962, when the first James Bond film premiered in theaters, the character has never been out of fashion. Now, after more than 50 years, the license to kill has become an anthem and a symbol of sophistication around the world.
The fact that the character’s name is James Bond is no coincidence. The British spy was created in the early 20th century by writer Evelyn Waugh as an intentional counterpoint to the more popular character of Sherlock Holmes. While the sleuth can be described as a “feminine” version of the famous fictional detective, Bond is a “masculine” counterpart who is more agile, dashing, and fashionable. As a result, the early filmmakers who brought the character to life were keen to embody those qualities.
In an effort to tie into the current cultural zeitgeist and keep things fresh for audiences, the filmmakers behind the upcoming Bond 25 have gone back to the well to draw from all of the elements that made the titular character so appealing to moviegoers in the first place. As a result, the new film’s costume designer has created a range of stylish and innovative outfits for the iconic spy.
Here, we’re going to run down the actors who have worn the suit and tie and discussed why they’re memorable in their own right.
Let’s start with the man who arguably put James Bond on the map. The first film in the series, which was released 50 years ago tonight, featured an almost unrecognizable Sean Connery in the role of 007. For those who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, Connery’s portrayal of the legendary British spy is indelibly etched onto the brain. Connery’s Bond was suave, debonair, and had a tan.
Connery is not only the most famous actor to play James Bond, but he’s also one of the few to play the role more than once. The previous Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, also featured Connery. The Scottish actor reprised his role as James Bond for a comeback movie in 2006. These days, Connery mostly appears in character as Bond on films and television shows. Most recently, he starred in the Netflix series, The Man in the Brown Suit. This is the fourth time that Connery has played Bond, and it’s the most recent installment in the franchise.
The next actor to represent Bond in the popular culture of the ‘70s and ‘80s was none other than 007’s unofficial godfather Roger Moore. Moore’s portrayal of the sophisticated British secret agent was so memorable that fans routinely cited it as one of the reasons why they liked James Bond films. Moore’s crisp white suits with blue stripes were so on-brand that they still appear cool today.
Moore continued to play the role of Bond in nine more films over the next decade. When Moore moved on to other work, he was replaced by Timothy Dalton, who went on to play Bond in five more films. In more recent years, actor Sam Smith has taken on the role for five films beginning with Spectre and including the upcoming Bond 25. However, it is Roger Moore’s indelible image that continues to represent James Bond as he appeared in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Female characters in James Bond films are often scantily clad and often serve as eye candy for the famous Agent 007. While the role of women in films has evolved throughout the years, one thing remains the same: they always serve as eye candy for Bond. Of course, this isn’t entirely true. Over the years, the filmmakers have given female characters more to do than simply serve as a distraction. Nevertheless, in the early days of the franchise, the most memorable Bond girls were often scantily clad and had little else going on in terms of character. In the ‘60s, the trendier the better, and often Bond’s attire was the handiwork of a professional seamstress. This trend continued in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as Bond’s attire became more streamlined and individualized.
Pierce Brosnan succeeded Moore as the next actor to play James Bond. However, while Moore and Connery were both British, Brosnan had actually been born in Ireland. Not only was he born there, but his family moved to England when he was a young child. Brosnan’s initial portrayal of Bond was a stylistic departure from that of his predecessors. Instead of looking cool and collected as Bond had in the past, Brosnan’s version of the character was more flamboyant and fun-loving. This made him one of the more memorable Bonds of all time.
Brosnan’s first outing as James Bond was the aptly named film, GoldenEye. In the scene where Bond confronts his archenemy in a snow-filled field in the film’s opening sequence, the audience gets a good look at the actor in action as he skids to a halt. It’s a beautifully choreographed sequence that perfectly encapsulates Bond’s signature blend of coolness and confidence. Not only that, the scene features some great practical effects and an inspired soundtrack that continues to be just as memorable as the clothes.
The second episode of the current series, titled “Bond in New York,” will see the return of Timothy Dalton, who last played Bond in 2002’s The Match Game. Like his successor Smith, Dalton is also a familiar face, having portrayed the character in the ‘90s series, Point Blank. In the scene where Bond confronts his archenemy in Central Park, Dalton’s Bond is more of the same, with his sleek suits, Italian heels, and effortlessly confident persona. Much of what makes Dalton’s Bond so memorable is his taste in style. It’s clear that the filmmakers behind Bond 25 have been paying close attention to the character’s fashion choices, keeping audiences entranced by his fashionable style for decades to come.
Current & Future Bonds
It is worth noting, however, that not all Bonds are created equal. While several actors have played the role of James Bond over the years, it has not always been the same character. For example, Brosnan’s Bond was a bit of a departure from that of previous incarnations, which is perhaps why he is the only actor to date to play the character more than once. While Brosnan’s Bond was fun and a bit of a fashion icon, it was also a character based on a template established by Sean Connery. With the next generation of Bonds promising to bring something new to the table, it will be interesting to see how future films interpret and continue the successful literary legacy established by Evelyn Waugh more than 70 years ago.