Every Actor Who Played James Bond, and Why They Quit
Last year, we weren't entirely sure whether Daniel Craig was going to continue as 007 in James Bond 25.
The next movie will mark Craig's fifth mission as Bond, and even when he confirmed he'd be in it, he seemed to suggest that it'll be his last movie. "I just want to go out on a high note, and I can't wait," he explained.
Craig spoke about needing "a break" before signing on to another movie and he'll get an even longer one now, as Bond 25 has been delayed until 2020. It means that even if the movie is his last as Bond, he'll hand in his license to kill as the longest-serving 007 (in terms of years, if not number of movies) ahead of Roger Moore.
But why did the previous Bonds hang up their Walther PPKs?
1. Sean Connery: Typecasting
The first and—for some—best Bond couldn't quite leave the role behind as his exit was followed up by two returns.
After five outings as 007, Connery called it a day with You Only Live Twice and put it down to the "terrible pressure" that came with the iconic role, comparing it to "like living in a goldfish bowl."
"That was part of the reason I wanted to be finished with Bond. Also I had become completely identified with it, and it became very wearing and very boring," he noted.
However, Connery would put on the tuxedo again after a one-movie break for 1971's Diamonds Are Forever. He was said to have been brought back to the role with an improved contract that included production company United Artists backing two movies of Connery's choice, with the actor using the funds to establish the Scottish International Education Trust.
It was very much a one-and-done return, though, and Connery even said he would never play Bond again after Diamonds Are Forever. "I have always hated that damned James Bond. I'd like to kill him," he said at the time.
Well, he never played the official Bond again, but he still came back as 007 in 1983's Never Say Never Again, a non-canon remake of Thunderball from co-writer Kevin McClory.
2. George Lazenby: Bad advice
When Connery took a break, the role of 007 moved to Australian actor George Lazenby with On Her Majesty's Secret Service marking his first acting role.
Lazenby proved to be one of the most divisive Bond choices in one of the most divisive Bond movies, with the actor claiming that he was blacklisted in the movie industry after his manager talked him out of signing a contract for six more Bond movies. It was reported that he was "difficult to handle" on set, something that Lazenby strongly denies.
"I had advice that James Bond was over anyway. It was Sean Connery's gig and, being in the '60s, it was love, not war. You know, hippy time. And I bought into that," he reflected in 2017.
"They also said there's a guy called Clint Eastwood doing movies in Italy, getting 500 grand a month, for doing a western. They said, you could do that. So I didn't feel like I was losing the million dollars."
Given that it remains his most notable role to date, perhaps Lazenby will feel the advice he got was well off the mark.
3. Roger Moore: Age
Over his seven Bond outings, Roger Moore became the oldest actor to play 007 as he was 58 years when he made his final Bond movie, A View to a Kill.
And it seems like age was very much a factor in Moore deciding to quit the role, but it wasn't because he couldn't do the stunts anymore. "It wasn't because of the physical stuff as I could still play tennis for two hours a day and do a one-hour workout every morning," he recalled in 2014.
"Physically I was okay but facially I started looking... well, the leading ladies were young enough to be my granddaughter, and it becomes disgusting."
It's something Moore echoed in his final interview before his death last year as he told the The Mirror that after A View to a Kill, he thought he looked too old to be "hanging around women in their early twenties without it appearing creepy."
He did however reprise the role for London's 2012 Olympic bid, alongside Samantha Bond, who played Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan era.
4. Timothy Dalton: Legal issues
Before he took the role of Bond, Timothy Dalton was concerned that he might become bored with the role if he played the same character for several years.
Yet, that wasn't why Dalton left after only two movies as 007. It was in fact something completely out of his control: He was all set for a third movie in 1990, only for legal issues between Eon Productions and MGM to delay the production. "Because of the lawsuit, I was free of the contract," Dalton told The Week.
The door was open for Dalton to return as Bond when the lawsuit was resolved in 1994, but he had decided he would only want to return for one movie.
"[Producer Albert Broccoli] said, quite rightly, 'Look, Tim. You can't do one. There's no way, after a five-year gap between movies that you can come back and just do one. You'd have to plan on four or five,'" Dalton recalled.
"And I thought, 'Oh, no, that would be the rest of my life. Too much. Too long.' So I respectfully declined."
5. Pierce Brosnan: Not his choice
Poor Pierce Brosnan, the one Bond actor who, it seems, didn't get the choice of when to exit the role.
Although Die Another Day was a critical misfire, it was—at the time—the highest-grossing Bond movie yet, so it seemed likely that Brosnan would return for a fifth role—and he certainly seemed up for it.
However, according to an interview in Bond book Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films, negotiations over a fifth outing didn't go the way Brosnan wanted. He recalled being in the Bahamas working on After the Sunset when he was told that "negotiations have stopped" and that the producers weren't "quite sure what they want to do."
"Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [Wilson] were on the line—'We're so sorry.' She was crying, Michael was stoic and he said, 'You were a great James Bond. Thank you very much' and I said, 'Thank you very much. Goodbye.'
"That was it. I was utterly shocked and just kicked to the kerb with the way it went down."
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.