James Bond: A closer look at the 7 actors who have played Secret Agent 007

Who will be the next Bond, James Bond?

The Daily Mail reported that Daniel Craig is hanging up his Walther PPK, and MGM has to find another actor to take over the lead of the profitable franchise.

Bookies in London have already plumped for their favourite: Tom Hiddleston. Bookmakers William Hill and Ladbrokes are betting on the 35-year-old Briton, best known to film fans as Loki from the successful Thor blockbuster series.

While MGM has stayed mum on Craig's replacement, many other names have been bandied about by fans, including British actors Idris Elba and Tom Hardy.

The revolving door casting does not seem to have hurt, and rather seems to improve, the bankability of the franchise.

Afterall, no less than seven actors have taken on the starring role since Sean Connery first tackled the character in the first Bond film, 1962's Dr No.

Here is a look back at all the screen Bonds, from the famous to the comic.

1. The actor: Sean Connery

Goldfinger, starring Gert Frobe as Goldfinger and Sean Connery as Bond. 

Sir Thomas Sean Connery was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland on Aug 25, 1930.

He joined the Navy, and worked as a bricklayer and lifeguard before turning to acting. He was cast as Bond by producers Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, because of his good looks and sturdy physique, buffed by body-building.

How many Bond films?

Dr. No (1962)

From Russia With Love (1963)

Goldfinger (1964)

Thunderball (1965)

You Only Live Twice (1967)

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Never Say Never Again (1983)

Did you know?

Before his acting career took off, Connery worked as a coffin maker. The young actor, then penniless, even slept overnight in the workshop in, what else, a coffin.

2. The actor: David Niven

Casino Royale (1967) starring David Niven as James Bond. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

David Niven, debonair raconteur who is better known for his witty Hollywood memoirs than his largely second-string Hollywood career, shared with Connery a military stint on his resume.

Born James David Graham Niven, he joined the British Army and was gazetted a second lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry. He left the army for Hollywood and was cast in many supporting roles, thanks to his English charm. While he was never an A-list marquee star, he did win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1958's Separate Tables.

Niven played Bond in the only film not produced by Eon Productions, the Broccoli and Saltzman-owned company which produced all the other Bond films.

How many Bond films?

Casino Royale (1967)

Did you know?

Niven was 56 when he played Bond.

3. The actor: George Lazenby

Australian actor George Lazenby at Hyatt Hotel, Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Australian, 29 when he was cast, was spotted by producer Broccoli at the barber at London's Dorchester Hotel.

Connery had quit the role and Broccoli thought Lazenby, a handsome model with little acting experience beyond commercials, could be a good replacement for the Scottish actor. But Lazenby's confidence grew into arrogance, and he soon fell out with the movie's producers. The movie was trashed by reviewers and Lazenby's acting career has never recovered from that initial blow.

How many Bond films?

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Did you know?

Lazenby was married to tennis champion Pam Shriver for six years. Shriver is distantly related to Maria Shriver, aka the ex-Mrs Arnold Schwarzenegger.

4. The actor: Roger Moore

The Man With The Golden Gun, starring Christopher Lee as a villain, Scaramanga, and Roger Moore as James Bond. PHOTO: HANDOUT

Technically the first trained actor to play Bond. Sir Roger George Moore actually studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but only for two months. He left in search of paying gigs as an actor.

Like Lazenby, he had also done modelling stints but had racked up some minor acting roles in film and television before he took on the role of Bond in 1973. To date, Moore is the longest serving Bond actor, having spent 12 years playing the character before giving up the role to another actor.

How many Bond films?

Live And Let Die (1973)

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Moonraker (1979)

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Octopussy (1983)

A View To A Kill (1985)

Did you know?

He took on the role of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991, influenced by his friend Audrey Hepburn's work for the organisation.

5. The actor: Timothy Dalton

Licence To Kill starring Timothy Dalton. PHOTO: 21ST CENTURY FOX

The most serious "actorly" Bond to be cast, Timothy Peter Dalton was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

He had first been approached to play Bond after Connery quit but then aged 22, Dalton felt he was too young to do justice to the role. He said yes when he was approached again in 1987 and his take on the role was grittier than Moore's easy-going, wisecracking spin.

How many Bond films?

The Living Daylights (1987)

Licence To Kill (1989)

Did you know?

Dalton quit the series before his contractual third film because Eon Productions was embroiled in a long-running court battle with MGM over television rights. As a result, the third film never materialised and five years after Licence To Kill, Dalton announced his decision to quit.

6. The actor: Pierce Brosnan

Die Another Day starring Pierce Brosnan. PHOTO: 20TH CENTURY FOX

The debonair Irishman was a natural fit for the role of Bond and indeed fans were clamouring for him to be cast after he became a television star, thanks to the hit series Remington Steele (1982 - 1987).

Unfortunately, while discussions were underway to cast him as Bond in 1986, television channel NBC suddenly reversed its decision to cancel Remington Steele and renewed it for a fifth season. To add insult to injury, after scuppering Brosnan's chances to become Bond, Remington Steele's last season was a truncated one, comprising on six hours instead of the usual full 22 episodes.

Brosnan finally took on the role in the mid-1990s.

How many Bond films?

GoldenEye (1995)

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Die Another Day (2002)

Did you know?

Brosnan was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2003 for his "outstanding contribution to the British film industry".

7. The actor: Daniel Craig

Skyfall, a James Bond movie, starring Daniel Craig. PHOTO: SONY PICTURES

Daniel Craig is the actor credited with bringing not just the sexy back to Bond, but also a gritty menace and emotional gravity to the character.

He was cast in 2005.

How many Bond films?

Casino Royale (2006)

Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Skyfall (2012)

Spectre (2015)

Did you know?

Craig was doubtful about taking on the role at first, being a serious actor whose resume up to that point comprised artier fare such as The Mother (2003) and Sylvia (2003). It was Brosnan who advised him to take the role: "Go for it. You'll have the ride of your life."