Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Top 10 Performances by James Bond Actors (in non-Bond roles)

Since making my way through the James Bond catalogue, I’ve been thinking about the six actors who have played 007. Some of them peaked with Bond, while others went on to have illustrious careers. Below are my favorite non-Bond performances by actors who have played Bond. Note: I only considered performances that were played during or after the respective actors’ tenure as Bond.

Honorable Mention
Roger Moore – Alias, Prophecy (2002)
Roger Moore doesn’t have much to do in the sixteenth episode of season one of Alias, but he crushes his moments on screen. You can tell how much he’s enjoying himself, making tea in a fancy gazebo, gently bringing his hands together in secret meetings in dark office rooms. Dude loves being back in the spy game, if ever so briefly.

10. Timothy Dalton – Hot Fuzz (2007)
“Stay back! Or the ginger nut gets it!”

Dalton has a blast in this flick. As a prime suspect of some horrible crimes, Dalton hams it up by mugging around and throwing shade to the men hunting him. What a great bit of casting.

9. Pierce Brosnan – The Ghost Writer (2010)
Entitled, elitist, invincible, deceptive – as former Prime Minister Adam Lang, Brosnan was at his snobby British best in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. Shame that all of his F bombs were horribly dubbed over, though.

8. Sean Connery – The Rock (1996)
Part Fuck you, Bond, part, Yeah, I still got it, Connery’s Mason is an ass kickin’, wise crackin’ ex spy that we love to root for. I seriously love this performance, and damn if the man still doesn’t look good in a suit.

7. Timothy Dalton – The Rocketeer (1991)
Dalton played the baddest Bond of them all, so it’s no surprise that I love seeing him as an out-and-out villain in other movies. The Rocketeer was a staple of my childhood; there was no end to my amusement in watching Dalton’s performance as the Errol Flynn-meets-secret Nazi agent hybrid, Neville Sinclair.

6. Sean Connery – The Untouchables (1987)
“They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. THAT’s the Chicago way.”

‘Nuff said.

5. Daniel Craig – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
It’s his reliance in the newsroom, his vulnerability when confronted with violence (and sex), his thinking man’s intelligence, and, of course, his incredible chemistry with Rooney Mara (and Robin Wright, for that matter). A measured and dependable performance.  

4. Sean Connery – The Hill (1965)
Sidney Lumet’s The Hill is a great film by a great director, but one that has never managed to attract a wide audience. Damn shame, as it contains a handful of fantastic performances, namely from Connery, who plays a former British officer serving time in a military detention camp. Connery’s quiet and commanding work in the film is enough to recommend The Hill. But trust me, there are many reasons to seek this one out.

3. Pierce Brosnan – The Matador (2005)
Pierce Brosnan, strutting through a fancy hotel lobby, wearing nothing but boots and a black speedo. Can of Modelo in one hand, lit cigarette in the other. He charges through the lobby, attracting attention from baffled guests. Makes his way to the pool, pencil dives in. It’s a hilarious and iconic moment in a criminally ignored film. Something you don’t unsee.

2. Sean Connery – Marnie (1964)
I still can’t believe Marnie, and Connery’s shocking performance in it, were able to see the light of day in 1964. Many people haven’t seen this B-side Hitchcock thriller, so I’ll keep plot details sparse, but this is a dangerous film, especially considering when it was released. Connery and Tippi Hedren (who, in my opinion, is better here than in The Birds) ignite the screen with their risqué chemistry. Seriously, watching this film, I’m stunned that the Bond producers permitted Connery to take this role on.

1. Pierce Brosnan – The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
Pierce Brosnan’s work as Thomas Crown could very well be my favorite non-James Bond James Bond performance ever. Wealthy, tailored, handsome, sleek – Thomas Crown is James Bond, but instead of a Walther PPK, Crown uses a pen (for signing billion dollar deals) and quick hands (for lifting priceless works of art) as his weapons. Hell, I’d argue that Thomas Crown is the best work of Brosnan’s entire career. Do you wanna dance, or do you wanna dance?

34 comments:

  1. HOT FUZZ! Dalton is so perfectly creepy in that. My favourite thing I've seen him in is Doctor Who but Hot Fuzz is a close second.

    I lurve Daniel Craig in Dragon Tattoo. He makes Mikhail so likeable.

    I've only watched half of The Untouchables but Connery was indeed very good in that. Also, it's not that much of a performance but I absolutely adore him in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

    And yes, Brosnan is awesomesauce in Thomas Crown Affair.

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    1. I haven't seen Doctor Who (or Penny Dreadful), but I'm so glad you're a fan of Dalton's work. Which half of The Untouchables have you seen? The second half is so much better!

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  2. OH!!!! I love Dalton in those roles you mentioned. Especially The Rocketeer... "I do my own stunts" He was also one of my favorite things in Toy Story 3 and its follow-ups.

    Pierce Brosnan was great in The Ghost Writer and in Matador. Daniel Craig in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Layer Cake.

    Yet, it's Connery all the way from The Untouchables, Marnie, The Rock (Michael Bay's best film still as it would go downhill from there), and of course, his cameo in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. What about.... Zardoz?

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    1. I was this close to including Zardoz. Haha. But really, glad you dig the list here. The Rock is awesome - it's a genuinely solid action flick. I agree, all downhill from there. Whatta waste.

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  3. Great choices. I also loved Daniel Craig in Road to Perdition. I still quote his best line in the movie to this day whenever someone asks me why i'm laughing or smiling.
    "'Cause it's all so fuckin' hysterical."
    It's his delivery of it that makes it so iconic for me.

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    1. I love Craig in that flick too, but I only included films that were released during or after the actors' time as Bond. Or else Road to Perdition (and Enduring Love), would definitely be included.

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  4. Great choices, love Dalton in Hot Fuzz, too funny.

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  5. Nice choices! And yet another reminder that I need to see Hot Fuzz..

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    1. Thanks! It's a good one. Not Shaun of the Dead good, but good.

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  6. No Timothy Dalton in Flash Gordon? Or Sean Connery in Darby O'Gill and the Little People?

    All kidding aside, you've hit on a lot of the great performances from this group. Connery has a lot of options from his career. Brosnan is so good in both The Matador and The Ghost Writer, and he does a lot with The Thomas Crown Affair remake. I do wish that Moore's character would have lasted longer on Alias. He had an interesting sinister side and played well off Ron Rifkin. Dalton was also a lot of fun on Chuck and Doctor Who. He's made quite a solid career on TV in recent years. I haven't seen Penny Dreadful, but I've heard great things.

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    1. Moore's character in Alias seemed primed for a recurring role. Weird that he only had that one spot. I haven't seen Penny Dreadful either, but yeah, that feels like one I need to sit down and check out.

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    2. Moore was offered the chance to continue the role but was offered less $$ than the guest starring fee so he said, thanks, but no thanks. Obviously doesn't need the money.

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  7. Love this idea for a list. My number one would be Connery in The Untouchables followed by Craig in Dragon Tattoo. I need to see Marnie. You make it sound extremely fascinating. Glad to see the love for Brosnan's work, especially The Matador. I agree, it deserves to be more widely seen. Great work.

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    1. Thanks man! Marnie is Hitch at his most dark. But because it followed one of his most iconic films, it is forever overshadowed by it. But I remember when I saw that film... I was like, "Oh... wow, they got away with that?!"

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  8. Love that you included Craig's work in Dragon Tattoo. It's legitimately the only movie where I found him sexy in because he played a good, however flawed, guy that actually felt real. There was so much nuance in his work - some of the stuff you mentioned like him flinching at all sorts of violence, but also hints of alcoholism and his struggle to be the good guy when he is just so tired by everything collapsing, it all made that performance feel so complete.

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    1. YES! Exactly. I knew you'd get my love for Craig's work in that film. Very, very nuanced work. And I love how you pointed out his drinking. Such precise work in that regard.

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  9. I remember Dalton was in a special version of Dr Who as the Lord of the Time Lords, he didn't do a great deal except stand there, ham it up and a spit a lot - hence the nickname Spitlord.

    To be perfectly honest I haven't seen much of the Bond actor's work outside the Bond movies, especially Dalton and Moore. Connery was pretty entertaining in the third Jones film, name has somehow escaped me...oh Last Crusade.

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    1. I honestly haven't seen much of Moore's non-Bond work either. But of what I have seen, I wasn't too much of a fan of. He is really solid in that Alias episode. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. I was, am and will always be all for The Hill! I seriously don't know how more people not know about this movie. They really aught to.

    I haven't seen it in a while but I remember loving Defiance with Daniel Craig in it. He was good in it as well. Thoughts?

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    1. Yes! Love finding other people who appreciate The Hill. Such a good movie.

      I thought Defiance was okay. I saw it in the theater when it was first released, and have never had the urge to revisit it. Kind of went away for me.

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  11. I've seen all but The Hill. I'm in big agreement on The Thomas Crown Affair, Hot Fuzz, and The Matador. I agree Crown is better than any of Brosnan's Bond films.

    I'm not a fan of The Rocketeer because I had loved the original graphic novel it was based on and they basically took everything great about the graphic novel, brought it all together...and threw it in the trash and made simplistic children's movie. It's not a bad movie; it just greatly disappointed me because it wasn't what I was looking forward to.

    Limiting this to post-Bond roles knocks out Layer Cake and Munich for Craig, the only two non-Bond films of his that were good. (The original Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn't fall apart at the end like Craig's version did, so I consider it to be the superior version).

    With Moore and Lazenby there's not much to pick from. I see Lazenby was in Gettysburg (1993), but I don't know how big his role was.

    For Connery I'd also mention The Man Who Would Be King, among others already brought up by other commenters.

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    1. Craig is so good in Layer Cake and Munich (and Enduring Love and Road to Perdition), probably the actor with my favorite pre-Bond filmography.

      And yeah, not too much to choose from with Moore and Lazenby. Though I did rewatch The Kentucky Fried Movie just to make sure it wasn't worth including.

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  12. Love your number 1 pick, The Thomas Crown Affair is so awesome. Love that ending just so much. with the hats and all. Despite my love for Thomas Crown, Sean Connery in The Untouchables is probably my favorite. Untouchables really started my love for the gangster genre and where Robert De Niro was my favorite in it, I always prefered Sean Connery in that to things like Indiana Jones even when I was young. Oh and big fan of Daniel Craig from Dragon Tattoo, just saw that pretty recently, oh my god, that's intense and really good. Great list man!

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    1. Thanks buddy! So happy you're a fan of Thomas Crown. What a fun and engaging flick. Really glad you dig the list!

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  13. I hate that I hate your #1 choice, because I love the rest of this list so much! Brosnan's work in The Matador and The Ghost Writer are flawless...Dalton's hilarious work in Hot Fuzz! Like, so much greatness here, but I loathed The Thomas Crown Affair so much.

    LOL.

    As always, I love these top tens from you.

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    1. Ha, well, can't win 'em all I suppose. But I'm glad you like the other picks!

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  14. Great list! Love seeing Brosnan make the cut for The Matador and The Ghost Writer. Nice to see Dalton for The Rocketeer and the Connery mentions as well. I really need to see The Hill, and I should rewatch Marnie and The Thomas Crown Affair.

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    1. Thanks man! The Thomas Crown Affair is one of those films I can put on anytime. I just think it's so much fun.

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  15. "Here comes the Fuzz" Dalton DOES look like he is having a blast with that role.

    Also, I noticed in the sidebar you came across that Oscar ballot article. I hate hearing about that shit but at the same time I feel happy. Finally, more and more is being revealed about the Oscars. It feels weird too. For a time, they were my super bowl. But things got worse and worse to the point where I gave up hope in the Academy. At this point, I still watch for the movies I like, but I completely understand that they should in no way be taken seriously as the metric for measuring art.

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    1. Yeah, sadly I agree with you here. They've grown to be very discouraging, which is kind of a bummer. And no, the Oscars certainly do not necessarily mean great art. I still love to watch them, but I don't invest as much emotional stock into them.

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  16. Love your pick for number one, though I haven't many of the others. The Thomas Crown Affair remake is a fairly underrated one. Brosnan and Russo have such great chemistry, not to mention the soundtrack is killer and reminds uf os when Denis Leary tried out acting for a while. haha

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    1. Ahh I love tha tsoundtrack and the way it keeps going back to Nina Simone's Sinnerman. Perfect.

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