How old is James Bond?

This should be subtitled “Why I should not be allowed to use Excel when I should be doing something else,” by the way.

But because no one stops me, I can tell you that the average age of a man playing James Bond, as defined as the actor’s age (well, year of release – year of birth, which is close enough) on the day of the film’s release, is about 43.3.

This makes a bit of sense. Bond’s clearly had career before becoming 007, so he can’t be too young. He also carries the equivalent of an O-5 rank (he’s a Naval Reserve Commander, equivalent to an American Lieutenant Colonel). That alone establishes a lower bound of the late 30s, more or less. And if we look to the books and other Bond scholarship (yes, such a thing exists), we see folks have placed his birthdate in 1920 or 1921. Fleming’s first novel was published in 1953, which would’ve made Bond only about 32, but we can make allowances for the circumstances of WWII, in which the literary Bond certainly served. His last Bond book, a set of short stories, came out in 1966, suggesting at 45-ish Bond.

The films are a different matter. People my age have an image of an ever-older Bond, because for the first 23 or so years of the series he aged in real time thanks to the fact that, when Connery was done, they hired a guy who was actually 3 years older. (I’m skipping Lazenby for a moment). Bond was 32 and in his prime in Dr. No, but a geriatric 58 in 1985’s A View to a Kill. In all, 13 of the 23 films include a Bond aged 32 to 45; nearly all the outliers are because Bond was too old, generally because he was Roger Moore. Moore never made a movie at the “right” age; he was already 46 for Live and Let Die in 1973. (Only one outlier is for youth; George Lazenby was 30 for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.)

In all, only Connery, Dalton, Lazenby, and Craig are in the literary age range for all their fllms, and the fact that Craig’s been contracted for two more will spoil that meaningless stat for him — he’s 44 in Skyfall.

The gentlemen and their average ages as Bond, along with their average variance from the “cinematic mean”:

Bond Films Range Average Age Average Diff from C.M.
Connery 6 32 to 41 35.3 -8.0
Lazenby 1 30 30 -11.2
Moore 7 46 to 58 51.6 +8.6
Dalton 2 43 to 45 44 +0.7
Brosnan 4 42 to 49 45.3 +2.0
Craig 3 40 to 44 40.7 -2.6

After Craig’s other two projected films, set for 2014 and 2016, his average will creep up to 43.2, or almost precisely the cinematic mean mentioned above.

The cinematic mean is sort of a weird stat, skewed as it is by how young Connery was, and how old Moore was, but it still ends up being a solid Bond age — plausible, experienced, neither too green nor too grey, and within the implied literary range. Craig’s in the right zone, but, looking back, so was Dalton.

I’d have said, before Craig, that nobody would stick around for as many films are as many years as Moore or Connery, but he’s on a track for 5 films in 10 years. Connery did 6 in 9 years; Moore did 7 in 12. If he does those films, he’ll be second in terms of duration in role, and third in film count.

Comments are closed.