christian bale

Bond. So much of British film is encapsulated in that single surname. So much of our desired national image has been projected, in cinematic terms, within that 4-letter export.

James Bond. That clumsy addition of a Christian name somehow evolved into the Hall of Fame of eternally-quoted film phrases. James Bond; that’s his name, that’s his style, that’s his authority.

And the Bond franchise truly has been about an overtly-stylized form of British authority. The outrageous jingoism, the hole-riddled plotlines, the gadgets, the cheesy one-liners, the nefarious, uncomplicated villains- the Bond formula has never really gone out of fashion.

The enduring cinematic legacy of Bond is intricately woven into an increasingly desperate British outlook. One which has lost its pre-eminence; its empire; its stiff upper lip, maybe even its tuxedos. So, it’s all rather fun to see a suave gent of the officer class maintain classic British values whilst expunging the evils of some madman in some exotic, almost ex-colonial, locale.

Classy, flashy and tech-savvy, the Bond films and Jimmy B himself have everything…or have they? Have they been well cast? Have we always brought in the right double agent for the job?

One of the notables of the Bond franchise has been its ability to bring in new faces, constantly reinventing its appeal with new pin-ups, new story directions, new directors- new Bonds. But given our love for this most iconic of characters, who might have served Her Majesty that bit better?

Here are ten (though perhaps it should have been 007) British actors who didn’t, but should have played this enduring, outrageous cinematic character. 

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This article was first posted on June 30, 2013