The James Bond series is one of the best-known and popular film franchises in the world. Agent 007 has been projected onto the silver screen for over 60 years, seeing several actors cast as the leading man. A variety of factors are considered when casting each Bond, with age being one of the most notable. Youngsters can try for the role, but it’s more likely to be filled by a more seasoned individual.
James Bond throughout the ages
Sean Connery was the franchise’s first James Bond, appearing as 007 in Dr. No in 1962. He went on to star as Bond in another five movies, before passing the torch to George Lazenby in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He returned to the role with Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
Connery retired from the franchise after this, officially handing Bond over to Roger Moore. He starred as the MI6 agent in a whopping seven movies, including Live and Let Die (1973), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and For Your Eyes Only (1981).
Timothy Dalton was Bond for a short two-film stint following Moore, before the role was adopted by Pierce Brosnan in 1995. He played the character in GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002). Daniel Craig was next in line for the role, portraying Bond until 2021 in films like Casino Royale (2006), Spectre (2015) and No Time To Die (2021).
Connery was 32 years old when he first got the part, while Lazenby was 29. Moore was 45, Dalton was 41 and Brosnan was 42. Craig, the most recent Bond, was 38. Apart from Lazenby’s one-off portrayal, all of these actors share one thing in common: they were all over the age of 30.
Younger actors don’t have the ‘mental capacity’ to portray 007
As it turns out, audiences may never see a Bond actor young than “thirty-something.” In an interview with RadioTimes, casting director Debbie McWilliams explained why, over the years and likely in the future, Bond will be played by an actor at least past the age of 30.
She’s been working as the franchise’s casting director since 1981, meaning she saw the likes of Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig cast in the role. While discussing the process following Brosnan’s retirement from the films, McWilliams said, “It was a slightly different feel.”
The movie they were casting for was Casino Royale, which portrays the early years of Bond’s career at MI6. “We did look at a lot of younger actors, and I just don’t think they had the gravitas,” she explained. “They didn’t have the experience, they didn’t have the mental capacity to take it on, because it’s not just the part they’re taking on, it’s a massive responsibility.”
Failing to find a younger Bond, they had to adjust. She said they scrapped the idea and went back to the drawing board.
Future Bonds may not be always widely famous
Later in the interview, McWilliams explained that future Bonds may not necessarily be actors who’ve garnered a lot of fame. Her approach for casting new 007s is simply to look at “who’s best for the part.” This role may be what brings future actors their fame.
She said, “Timothy Dalton was known, but he was known as a Shakespearean actor, really. Pierce [Brosnan] was known, but that was basically from television. Roger Moore was known from television. Sean Connery wasn’t [known] – nobody had ever heard of him.
“A certain audience had heard of Daniel Craig, but much more the kind of independent cinema audience,” she continued. Craig’s biggest commercial work up to that point was the 2004 film, Layer Cake.
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As the franchise continues, whoever plays Bond in the future will likely need lots of experience and wisdom under their belt.