Was Roger Moore The Best James Bond? The Case For Sean Connery's Older, Cornier Successor

By | October 12, 2020

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Actor Roger Moore on the set of "Octopussy". (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Is Roger Moore "your" James Bond? Or is Sean Connery the quintessential 007? What about Dalton, Brosnan, Craig? (Wait... Lazenby?) There are few things in pop culture that are divisive as querying a group of people on the best Bond. There are legions of viewers who would fall on their swords for Sean Connery because as the first James Bond he formed the viewer's vision of this iconic character, but does that make him the best?

On the other hand, Roger Moore played the character longer and many of the films in his 12 year run are legitimate classics. The Spy Who Loved Me, Live And Let Die, and The Man With The Golden Gun not only have some of the most memorable sequences of the entire franchise, but they've become ingrained in the public consciousness as what a Bond movie is - over the top action infused with a knowing wink, cool gadgets, and an incredibly debonair actor in the lead role.

Like Connery, Moore's Bond embodies an era, and if you came to the character a little before or a little after he held the role it's likely that you just don't get why he really is the best Bond.

Contrary to popular belief, Moore wasn't in the running to be the first Bond

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source: United Artists

Before we get into why Moore is the best Bond we've got to look at a fascinating bit of folklore. There's long been a story that Moore was the first choice to play Bond but he couldn't take the role because of his commitments to The Saint. There are a few reasons that this is incorrect, the first is a question of logistics.

Moore couldn't have been in the running for Bond thanks to his role on The Saint because The Saint didn't even premiere until the day before Dr. No was released in theaters. Even though Moore was on television is the role of a debonair spy before The Saint, he just wasn't on Ian Fleming's radar.

Fleming wanted the 007 adaptations to be successful, so he became a student of the behind the scenes machinations of what makes a film a hit. He researched actors and felt that the best bet was to go with someone famous in order to get the most butts in seats. At the time, he was looking at Richard Burton and David Niven for the role, but his first choice for the role was Cary Grant.

While the narrative that Moore was in the running for Bond long before he actually took the role is great, it's just one of those myths that won't go away. While he was alive Moore felt that the story was ridiculous, he said, "Ian Fleming didn't know me from sh*t. He wanted Cary Grant or David Niven."