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As I said somewhere else recently he was somewhat typecast due to his looks when younger. When that faded, sadly around the time of AVTAK, the roles dried up as well.
If he'd managed to keep a bit of his youthful swagger & energy like his contemporary Clint Eastwood did, then I believe he could have had a stellar post-Bond career imho.
"Would you like to have a bite of my sausage? In England we call them bangers."
Don't forget Doctor Who. After all, he's the only Bond to have appeared on that series.
Brosnan, next to Connery, had the best post-Bond career.
As for Spinning Man, it's only a VOD film. Not a large theatrical release to be recognized as a masterpiece. It delivered what it promised. An average mystery thriller.
Brosnan - Lot of standard action flicks, which have led to some moderate box office success
Dalton - Moderate success, most in areas that I don't watch, but I've seen him in Penny Dreadful, Hot Fuzz, Toy Story
Moore - Retired from Bond at 58, when most actors start seeing a decline in roles, so not really a surprise. Also got very invested in UNICEF and his battle with cancer in the early 90s took much of his immediate post Bond career
Lazenby - Wasn't given many opportunities after he left the Bond franchise in the way he did
His only full post Bond performance I remember seeing is an episode from Alfred Hitchcock presents called 'Diamonds Aren't Forever'.
Moore had a little better post Bond career, even though his movies after Bond were not very good in quality.
Connery and Brosnan clearly have had the best run of movies after their turn as double o seven.
Craig's career seems to lead him in to television or in movies that are both box office and critical duds.
Best I can hope for him is that he'll have a career close to Dalton, after he ditches the tuxedo. Some quality acting work as supporting character in movies, or larger roles on tv and on stage.
Now that we're on the subject of these actors, and speaking mainly in terms of prestige and popularity, my impression is that while Connery remained a star through his entire career, after his original run as James Bond, he seemingly only hit the major leagues again with The Untouchables, after which he became a major Hollywood star in the nineties, probably even more so than in the sixties (Bond aside). I suspect Never Say Never Again revived people's interest in him, which lead to The Untouchables and all the later success. It's like with Clint Eastwood in the late eighties/early nineties-- both of these actors managed to stick around long enough so that after a slight decline, which threatened to render them obsolete, they became famous "all over again" by choosing the right projects.
I would also add that in his post-Bond years, Brosnan also appeared in Mamma Mia! and The Ghost Writer, which were quality projects, regardless of what one may think of them as films. Apart from that, as well as his share of solid-to-great action flicks, he has made a number of films which have aspired to achieve a certain prestige. He has worked with some name actors and was nominated for a Golden Globe for The Matador (I know the Globes are decided by just eighty "journalists," but in terms of image they do count for something). But crucially for him, Brosnan has managed to remain visible over the years-- he hasn't vanished, he sticks around. All things considered, he has carved a fine career for himself, I must say.
Dalton capitalized on Bond with The Rocketeer but shortly afterwards he was back to doing projects of a lower profile, and working with Fran Drescher (hehe). I think he just didn't have the ambition to become a big star. That's the vibe I get from him from interviews, anyway.
Roger Moore was 58 when he left Bond so he was already unlikely to remain a big star for long. Also, that long stretch from 1985 to 1990 in which he didn't get any projects completed (apart from that snowman flick) was probably harmful as well. I recall at one point he was going to make Bullseye! with Shirley Maclaine, but that fell through, obviously. He was also going to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love but quit because he felt he wouldn't be able to sing in sync with the orchestra. I think he did have the ambition to remain relevant as an actor, but couldn't succeed at it (he was seduced by the prospect of getting top-billing alongside Van Damme in The Quest-- which didn't happen in the end and he disliked Van Damme and producer Moshe Diamant ever since, for that and other reasons). I do wonder why he didn't make more films in the UK; after all, during his run as James Bond, that's where he had found the most success outside of 007. And I read somewhere that 1994's The Man Who Wouldn't Die was intended as a pilot for a TV show. I'm not sure it's true, but if it is, it obviously didn't pan out, and yet it makes me think he could've taken another shot at a US-made TV show. In a sitcom, I'm sure he would've made a wonderful lead and put his considerable charm to great use. He obviously would've worked very well in a mystery show, too.
After Bond, Lazenby was about to make a film with Bruce Lee, but life intervened. I think he wanted to hit it big outside of Bond, but just didn't know the right people-- not after just one film role and no acting experience before that. I always remember Tony Curtis' career decline in the seventies. In his autobiography he himself says he didn't have any contacts left in Hollywood in that decade. He had had a famous agent whose name I forget, and then replaced him with Swifty Lazar, who didn't have the same clout as the former agent. So after a while, there weren't enough people in high places in Hollywood who knew who he was, and he was getting the most awful projects, with some exceptions. And his cocaine addiction didn't help, but that's another story.
Brosnan and Sean both did well post Bond. I think Brosnan has probably had the best of it. Roger didn't really try to do much. Dalton not quite so strong a career, though stronger in recent years.
Definitely an 'in.
Lazenby easily the worst
I previously found other actors who list Connery at the very top:
Personally, I'd say Lazenby got the short end of the stick after Bond. Blacklisted in Hollywood, he had to finance his own movie Universal Soldier here in the UK. Though some critics actually liked it, the movie performed poorly and that was pretty much it for Lazenby. I've seen Universal Soldier in its entirety and it's a strange little movie without much of a plot, but Lazenby is quite good in it. And as I pointed out, the critics thought he acted better in that movie than he did in OHMSS. I don't happen to agree with them, but then I've never agreed with most of these stuck-up movie critics to begin with. Of course, Lazenby almost teamed up with Bruce Lee but sadly that never came to fruition due to Lee's untimely and early death. A total travesty as I think we would now be seeing Lazenby in a different light if he had made those movies with Lee.
Moore, on the other hand, made some real stinkers outside of Bond. During his tenure as 007: That Lucky Touch, Escape to Athena and The Sicilian Cross come to mind in the 70s. Though both Gold and Shout at the Devil fared much better at the BO, it was his ensemble cast movies The Wild Geese and The Cannonball Run that he excelled in. Post Bond, Roger Moore pretty much did lousy movie after lousy movie. I can't think of one that's any good to be honest.
Dalton, after Rocketeer, was pretty much confined to playing in TV mini-series. I happen to think that he was very good in the ones that I saw: Framed (1992) being the best of them. However, Dalton has experienced somewhat of a resurgence of late and has made some very good movies such as Hot Fuzz, Toy Story 3 and also appeared in The Tourist (2010) with the likes of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, and of course Penny Dreadful (TV Series).
Brosnan and Connery, we all know about so to list their achievements would be futile. Connery without a doubt is the undisputed king here, with Brosnan following behind by quite some margin. Next, I'd place Dalton, followed by Moore and finally Lazenby in last for obvious reasons.
Lazenby has done ok all things considered. He should never have had any kind of career...at all...but he did some stuff and has made his money.
Moore, kind of retired after Bond. Acted as and when it suited him. Worked with his mates, parodied himself. Had he wanted to he could have reinvented himself as a serious character actor, I have no doubt. I can see Craig in a similar vain, although he will pick and chose more worthwhile projects than Spice World I shouldn't wonder.
Dalton is the anomaly here. At a time when we had the beefcake leading men in the USA (Willis, Stallone) and the younger, sensitive slightly bumbly Brits (Hugh Grant, Colin Firth,), I'm not sure Dalton really fitted as a leading man on the big screen. He should have taken his time, played the West End, searched for good TV projects instead of US mini series. He got there in the end with Penny Dreadful, but I think he has chosen poorly, and I would say he has had the most disappointing post Bond career.
Some just didn't translate well for audiences - The Molly Maguires, Five Days One Summer, The Next Man, Hostage, Zardoz. Others like The Green Knight, Cuba and Meteor were outright bombs. The better ones were where he was paired with other actors like Michael Caine and Donald Sutherland or as part of an ensemble.
I've never seen UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, but I've enjoyed some of the movies Lazenby did after Bond, especially WHO SAW HER DIE? and THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, both featuring convincing performances from Lazenby (although in the case of WHO SAW HER DIE?, he was not available to loop his voice in post-production). Lazenby also has the benefit of appearing in two legitimately great films in supporting or minor roles, Peter Bogdanovich's SAINT JACK and the American Civil War epic GETTYSBURG, both of which are better than anything in Daniel Craig's filmography.
I disagree here. Moore acquitted himself quite admirably in THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF, FFOLKES, and THE NAKED FACE -- all very uncharacteristic roles.
I thought Rog was great in Gold, The Wild Geese, Cannonball Run, Ffolkes and The Sea Wolves.
Shame Dearden died so early. I would've loved to see him directing Bond. Had there been a proper Casino Royale effort with Sean Connery in the sixties, he'd have been the most eligible to direct the film.
It has nothing to do with MacLean other than being a counter-terrorism thriller. For one thing, MacLean would have never developed such an oddball protagonist.
FFOLKES is the U.S. title. It also aired on television here (the States) as ASSAULT FORCE.