Who is James Bond?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

James Bond is a character from several novels by Ian Fleming, the first being Casino Royale published in 1953. Fleming published 14 novels featuring the British spy, known as 007 (Double O 7), who had a "license to kill" anyone who might thwart the British government. Bond has several characteristic elements, his preference for vodka martinis, “shaken not stirred,” and his predilection for seducing women, who seemed to want no more than a minute or two of his conversation before accepting his romantic offers with alacrity.

James Bond famously drinks his martinis shaken, not stirred.
James Bond famously drinks his martinis shaken, not stirred.

James Bond is best known today as a character in numerous feature films, and has been played by several actors. He has been most recently depicted by Pierce Brosnan, but will now be played by actor Daniel Craig. Brosnan’s Bond is quite different from earlier portrayals. He has a bit more sensitivity in regards to women, and certainly met his match against Halle Barry as the character Jinx, who was in many ways more casual about sex than Bond himself.

James Bond often was given a dossier of information before starting a mission.
James Bond often was given a dossier of information before starting a mission.

Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman produced the early James Bond films. In 1975, Broccoli took over as sole producer. A shift in values is represented in the current films, which are being produced by Broccoli’s daughter Barbara. The early Bond had no trouble hitting a woman to get answers, and little remorse for the usual demise of the “bad girls” who worked for his enemies and would almost invariably end up getting killed after liaisons with Bond. Feminism has definitely shifted Bond to a more compassionate character, though still a dissolute one. Further, the British Secret Service is now stewarded by a woman, titled “M,” played by Dame Judi Dench. These changes make the modern Bond more palatable to some.

There have been nine actors in total who have played James Bond. The first was not, as many think, Sean Connery. An Americanized Bond was featured in a teleplay of Casino Royale in 1954, and was played by Barry Nelson. A radio play of Moonraker in South Africa had Bob Holness voicing the James Bond role in 1956. However, these are not considered “official” Bond films, as they were not produced by EON Productions. As well, David Niven did a wonderful parody of Bond in a 1967 version of Casino Royale that is also not of the “official” listing.

The first “official” James Bond is Sean Connery, who between 1962-1967 starred in five Bond films. The first was Dr. No. Connery was replaced by Lazenby in 1969, who was not a popular Bond, starring in only one film, In Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Connery was quickly rehired and would star in two more films. Connery’s last film, is also considered unofficial, and is inferior to most of the other movies. It is Never Say Never Again, released in 1983.

Roger Moore took over the James Bond role, and held it from 1973-1985, starring in seven films. Many consider Moore’s Bond as inferior to Connery’s. However, there are opponents and supporters of every man who has played the role. One difference in the Roger Moore films was the development of loaded action sequences prior to the title credits of the film. One first sees this in The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977. These moments have been greatly appreciated by fans, and now are a mainstay of the films.

Timothy Dalton was the next James Bond, featured in two films, and was also disliked by many. Producers then tapped Pierce Brosnan, who became Bond for four films, the last, Die Another Day, was released in 2002. Since Brosnan took over the role, many consider him now to be definitely one of the top men to play the role, with stronger and more complex performances than previous actors.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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George Lazenby is scheduled to appear at the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, Sept. 18-20, in Hunt Valley, Md., at the Hunt Valley Wyndham Hotel. He will be doing photos with fans and autographs. There will also be a special screening of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" with Lazenby in attendance to talk about it and answer some questions. Lana Wood, Plenty O’Toole, from "Diamonds Are Forever," will be there too.



Speaking of Irish people, I think that the quintessential American male hero reflects the fact that the Irish people are a very influential population in America. An Irish hero would likely be a man with strong feelings of loyalty and a lack of patience for people who get in his way. Maybe Pierce Brosnan should consider playing an American-style protector hero in his next film.



I think this also reflects hero preferences among the respective national demographics. The average American male wouldn't be as "classy" in his tastes as the average British movie-going bourgeois. With a lack of class distinction in America, the idealized hero is a man of morals with a short fuse, while the British version is a man without morals, but a strong class-loyalty and societal expectations of dress and habit.


Idealized national heroes like James Bond are seen as patriotic examples of what a man should be. The American versions of James Bond are figures such as Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer. Notice a trend here? They all have the initials JB. The American versions tend to be more violent and intimidating than the English versions, reflecting the stereotypical macho male of America. They also use shady means and don't engage in casual sex for pleasure. James Bond is a gentlemen, but Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne are just straight-up BA.


Contrary to popular belief, Pierce Brosnan is not English, but Irish. In representing such a quintessentially British hero character, this fact has gone unnoticed or unspoken. Pierce Brosnan is "dyed-in-the-wool" full blooded Irish, who nevertheless does not get annoyed when people mistake him for an Englishman.

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