If you have had the ill fortune to watch the 1967 “comedic” version of Casino Royale, released by Columbia pictures, you saw a lot of terrible characterizations of James Bond. In the movie, MI6 makes all agents take the “James Bond” moniker to confuse the evil Dr. Noah, but this plan actually serves to confuse the heck out of the audience. So we had David Niven as James Bond, Peter Sellers as Bond, Woody Allen as Bond, and most damning of all, monkey and dog agents as Bonds. I don’t feel I have the ability to pick a worse James Bond actor than a dog, but being bipedal certainly doesn’t qualify one for the role of James Bond either.
My vote for worst possible Bond actor may be a tie between American stand up comedian Carrot Top and Gonzo from the Muppets, but neither would be in serious contention to play Bond in a movie obviously. While I could literally fill volumes of text with actors who would be terrible as Bond, but are also not ever going to play Bond (Ghandi for instance would make a horrible Bond, not only because he would be unbelievable but also because he is dead), a list of that sort would be pointless. So this list is sticking with actors who could, in some conceivable way, actually audition for the part of Bond. None of them would get the part though, luckily for all of us.
10. Matt Damon
There may be a lot of reasons that Damon should not play Bond, but the one I want to focus on here is the idea of type casting. Back in the 1960s, Eon considered Roger Moore as a pick to be the first James Bond, but they went with Sean Connery instead because they were afraid Moore would be considered, by the audience, too closely associated to his other television character at the time, Simon Templar, the Saint. The Saint wasn’t about spies technically, but the character and the adventures he had were very close to James Bond and his adventures, and Eon was afraid that Dr. No would be perceived as a Saint movie.
The same thing would happen to Matt Damon, who in the world of spy fiction is Jason Bourne, plain and simple. Damon is so associated with Robert Ludlum’s spy character that when he didn’t appear in the fourth Bourne film, it was a major letdown, not to take anything away from Jeremy Renner. There needs to be separation between Bourne and Bond, which we could never overcome if Damon played Bond. Also, the Bond Unification would be a terrible title for the next Bond film.
9. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise, like Matt Damon, also has a strong association with the spy genre. Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible film series and has lead those films to major box office success. There are a lot of reasons Cruise would be bad as Bond, and personally I feel his Ethan Hunt is a pale shadow of Rollin Hand from the original television series, but I think the biggest problem here is the audience not knowing if they are watching Bond or Hunt, a problem exacerbated by the fact that Cruise’s head takes up the entirety of whatever movie poster he is on. We need the Mission: Impossible series and the James Bond series to be divided; and most of all, we need Cruise to never attempt a British accent (Interview with the Vampire!).
8. Pierce Brosnan
There is a precedence in the Bond universe with a previous Bond returning to the role. Sean Connery returned after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to film his sixth Bond film, Diamonds are Forever, but 12 years later, when he was 52 years old, he returned again for the non canon film Never Say Never Again.
Brosnan is currently 62 years old and hasn’t played Bond for 13 years, but Eon knows that Brosnan made serious money for the franchise and Brosnan’s latest movies have kept him in the spy fiction genre. Bringing Brosnan back would be a mistake, though. Although we love nostalgia, Bond needs to be young to work well. Roger Moore was not believable as Bond after he passed by his first three decades, and while Brosnan is awesome, no one is going to buy him as Bond again.
7. Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel is a powerful looking actor, and his voice is great when he is given a good script, like the Iron Giant or Guardians of the Galaxy; scripts that have him speak as little as possible. Otherwise his voice sounds like gravel run over by a tank tread, very difficult to understand. Diesel in a suit is also not a sight meant for human eyes, but the biggest reason he would be a terrible Bond is due to his nationality. George Lazenby was Australian, so there is precedent for the Bond actor to not be from the UK. American actors have been considered in the past, but it seems a non British Bond can’t and shouldn’t work. Let’s keep Americans away from the James Bond role, and let’s keep Diesel in roles that work for him and us.
6. Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant is British and can deliver one liners and witty come backs with the best of them. He has the same kind of charm Roger Moore had when he was playing Bond at his silliest, but can Grant also do action? Who cares? Grant is associated with comedy and not action. Any actor who is considered a comedian above an action star will not serve well as James Bond. I don’t want to insult any comedian who may be able to play an action hero, but we don’t want comedy as the first thing people think of when they see Bond. He needs to be dangerous first, and funny and sexy, second and third respectively.
5. Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston is amazing as Loki in the Thor movies, but American audiences will associate him with a villain, which seriously impedes his ability to play James Bond. It is better for either an unknown actor or an actor that is associated with positive characters to play Bond. We don’t need to feel like Bond may betray England in any moment because the actor who plays him is so good at being duplicitous. I bet Hiddleston could hit the violent and dangerous aspects of the character pretty well though.
4. Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe is a terrific young actor, but his association with the Harry Potter universe is too great for audiences to overcome. He doesn’t come across as being dangerous or funny, but rather reactive and goofy. As Potter, Radcliffe did a great job dealing with dangerous situations being thrust upon him, but Bond needs to seek out and place himself in these situations, and I can’t see Radcliffe pulling that off. Also, physically he seems too small to play the role of Bond. And the most damning aspect of Radcliffe playing Bond, he would have to take orders from Ralph Fiennes, obviously the same actor who played Potter’s main antagonist Lord Voldemort. Speaking of Potter though, how has Alan Rickman never played a Bond villian? Get on that Eon!
3. Sean Bean
Sean Bean has already made his commitment to the James Bond universe, playing the main villain in Goldeneye opposite Pierce Brosnan. Charles Grey played double duty once, playing a British agent in You Only Live Twice and later Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever, so the idea that Bean may play Bond isn’t that outrageous from a recycling actor point of view.
Bean as Bond would be terrible for one more important reason: we are not ready to see Bond die. The Bond franchise has the legs to keep going for a long time, but Sean Bean is not able to survive any movie or television show he appears in. The audience would be waiting the entire movie for Bean’s inevitable death scene. Sean Bean surviving a film, much less more than one in a series, is a reality no one is ready for.
2. Robert Pattinson
I’m not a fan of the Twilight franchise, and I don’t think Pattinson is able to escape the maudlin romantic nonsense portrayed by those films. Pattinson is only good for brooding romance now. The sex scenes with him as Bond may be good for those attracted to Pattinson, but I would worry the whole time about Bond having his fragile heart broken. I don’t want to watch Pattinson killing enemies of the state and then swooning over every woman who walks in front of him. I also don’t understand what shape Pattinson’s head is. Round like a normal human, square, oval? I don’t get it Rob.
1. Russell Brand
I said in the introduction to this column that Gonzo from the Muppets would make the worst James Bond, so what position does that put Russell Brand in? Brand is basically a human version of Gonzo, a real weirdo with little charisma, acting ability, or attributes needed for Bond. Brand is not dangerous, not serious, not funny, and not sexy as far as I can tell, although apparently he has a lot of success with the ladies. We wouldn’t even get a Katy Perry Bond song packaged with Brand because this idiot messed up his marriage with Perry. Other than terrible casting publicity stunt, there is no way Brand should appear, in any capacity, in the James Bond Universe.