James Bond: Ranking The 007 Actors From Worst To Best

8. Barry Nelson


The first man to ever play James Bond in live action cinema, American actor Barry Nelson took the lead role in an adaptation of Casino Royale that was broadcast in October 1954 as part of the anthology series Climax! on CBS (the whole thing can be seen here). Obviously, nobody involved had any idea that the character would go on to become the most iconic spy in popular culture, but even by the standards of the time the whole production is pretty poor.

Shown in three acts, the low-rent production features some wonderfully unconvincing sets and unintentionally hilarious fight scenes, not to mention the strange sight of seeing Bond sport an American accent and be referred to as 'Jimmy'. Part of the problem is that the show was broadcast live, with Nelson nervously fumbling a few lines and failing to give his take on James Bond any form of charisma or personality, with legendary character actor Peter Lorre easily stealing the show as Le Chiffre. All in all, it was a fairly inauspicious screen debut for Ian Fleming's literary creation, soon to become one of the most well-known and popular characters in the world.

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