Best James Bond: Sean Connery and Daniel Craig
Six actors have played Ian Fleming's lethal spy in the Eon Productions films. The best? It's a tie between the man who launched the series and the man who rescued it. Sean Connery and Daniel Craig capture Bond's ruthless cruelty and cold charisma.
Each knows that even an iconic role calls for some actual acting, and when the scene calls for it they get deep in the game. And both men have a potent physical presence. They look as if they could flatten an adversary without help from one of Q's chloroform-emitting fountain pens.
Fate dealt each actor an advantage in this sweepstakes. Connery established the Bond brand, setting the competitive bar high for those following him. George Lazenby was more athletic, Timothy Dalton brought a classical actor's dour focus to the part, Pierce Brosnan had the best feel for devil-may-care humor. But they just weren't Connery.
Craig's casting ignited a firestorm of controversy (A blond Bond? Unthinkable!), but his brooding, muscular portrayal proved his critics wrong. His debut, the ambitious series reboot "Casino Royale," introduced a stripped-down, modern, more thoughtful style to the franchise. Craig plays a spy who feels remorse when colleagues die, who sometimes blinks before he pulls the trigger, and struggles with his violent impulses.
He's a Bond who can deliver a crisp right cross, and a bruising emotional wallop.
And he doesn't give a damn if his martini is shaken or stirred.
Worst: Roger Moore
Roger Moore is the longest-running 007 to date, and the least suited to the role. More lounge lizard than cobra, incompetent in action scenes, Moore faced lightweight, forgettable villains, shifting the films' tone from drama with a dash of irony to self-mockery. Hard to decide if Moore's lowest point was donning a clown disguise in "Octopussy" or his drowsy, Austin Powers-quality sexy time with Grace Jones in "A View to a Kill."