As the latest Bond film No Time to Die is once again scheduled for release later this year, it was announced that the actor playing Bond, Daniel Craig, will not be returning to the role. The search is now on for the next actor to take up the gauntlet and step into the shoes of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond. The immensely successful series has had many different actors who played the part well. Some were controversial but successful picks, while others didn’t last long. But there has always been a prototype for the character created in the fifties by writer Ian Fleming. Flemings’ Bond loved cars, women, drinking and smoking. Who really was the definitive James Bond in the mind of creator Ian Fleming?
Ian Fleming had a definite person in mind when he crafted his Bond persona. Believe it or not, it was the singer Hoagy Carmichael that Fleming pictured as someone who fit the mold of James Bond. Pictures of Carmichael show a slight resemblance to Daniel Craig, although Carmichael is an American with a slight build. One of the consistent descriptions of Bond talked of his “cruel’ good looks. He was always described as having a slim build, with a scar on his right cheek and black hair with a “comma which falls on his forehead.”
Fleming wrote twelve James Bond novels and two short story collections. The James Bond character that was established in Fleming’s books was a man who loved cars, enjoyed good food and fine dining with his signature Martini, and he had an average intake of about sixty custom-made cigarettes each day! When Sean Connery began playing Bond in the first film in 1963, Dr. No, he made such an impression upon Fleming that he added a good sense of humor and some Scottish ancestry to his character.
As for the iconic name, James Bond, Fleming took the name from a real person who was a bird watcher by profession, an ornithologist. Fleming said, “I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find.”
Ian Fleming always wanted to write, so after the war he told a friend, “I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.” Fleming based the fictional character in the book on a composite of several men he knew in Naval Intelligence during World War II. He said Bond ‘was a compound of all the secret agents and commando types that I met…”
For the next personification of James Bond, there may be a model that fits the Fleming mold. None of the previous actors had all the combined qualities from the character that Fleming originally wrote about in his books. But there is no contest in terms of the most popular Bond actor in the film series. Sean Connery is the winner hands down. And although Daniel Craig has been immensely successful, he comes in fourth on the list behind Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore in terms of popularity with the public.
While Sean Connery tops the list, Daniel Craig brought the tough but cool image of Bond back into focus. There will always be some level of controversy surrounding the perfect prototype for Bond. But as our world evolves, there is still a place for the tough and eternally cool character of Bond…James Bond.