As the release of Spectre gradually approaches we’re full of optimism, so here’s a nostalgic run-down of our top ten Bond villains, old and new.
10- Max Zorin
Though he features in A View to a Kill, which was far from the best Bond film (Roger Moore was 57 at the time of filming,) Max Zorin has to be given some credit. Firstly he’s played by Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Pulp Fiction,) and secondly, the last half hour of the film, including its eye opening climax, definitely deserves some praise for fantastic, pure, adrenaline pumping action, all devilishly masterminded by Zorin. A flooding mine, a machine-gun slaughter and a ludicrously large bomb all build tension before a dramatic escape and a final showdown on top of the Golden Gate Bridge that is by far the films highlight.
9- Baron Samedi
Standing at an impressive 6ft 6 and played by the late Geoffrey Holder in Live and Let Die, Baron Samedi was an oddity when it came to Bond villains because of his implied supernatural nature. Baron Samedi traditionally is a Haitian voodoo spirit, (the spirit of the dead,) his role in the film was often that of a simple henchman, but hints were dropped as to his alleged immortality.
8- Red Grant
An Irish SPECTRE assassin given the task of killing James Bond (it’s worth mentioning that Rosa Klebb, another superb villain, selected him for this task by punching him in the stomach, unexpectedly, with a knuckle duster. He, rather comically, didn’t flinch and was selected). Grant presents one of the more realistic, down to earth threats that Bond faces, but his ploy of posing as a fellow 00’ agent makes for an amazingly tense sequence on-board the Orient Express in 1963’s From Russia with Love. His guile and immense strength sees him almost able to dispatch Bond, before a Q-Branch gadget comes, once again, to the rescue.
Played by Sean Bean, the so often ill-fated gem of British cinema, Trevelyan was formerly 006 before faking his own death and defecting to become Bond’s nemesis in Goldeneye. Though at times Bean’s attempt to ditch his broad Yorkshire accent means his dialogue can come across a little laboured overall Trevelyan is a memorable villain as his betrayal marks him out as being quite unique within the franchise and leaves his conversation with Bond open to much more familiar cut and thrust. Another reason Trevelyan will live on your memory is his death sequence, which is jaw dropping (the argument that that was a spoiler is void- let’s remember he’s played by Sean Bean).
Jaws is utterly conspicuous and arguably, utterly ridiculous. However he’s also pretty much the ultimate henchman. Portrayed by Richard Kiel, who measures in at an amazing 2.1 metres tall, Jaws signature weapons are his metal teeth and immense strength (which doesn’t always work in his favour, a boat-chase in Moonraker sees him accidentally wrench the steering wheel of his boat loose). Jaws, though more of a pantomime villain than anything else- is utterly memorable and is an indelible part of the way Bond films have evolved. He’d never find his way into a Bond plot in 2015 of course, but the fact he appeared in both Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me, shows that he’s made an important and memorable contribution to the series.
The ex-KGB agent with nothing to lose. Renard was shot in the head and bullet is slowly but surely making its way into his brain, though a little fantastical, the premise that he will grow stronger every day until it kills him is classic over-dramatic James Bond gold and is a fantastic feature of The World is Not Enough. As a result of this condition Renard acts with no fear and feels little pain: one scene sees him calmly holding a hot coal, before pressing it into the palm of a henchman who has disappointed him. ‘Unstoppable brutality’- two words that sum up Robert Carlyle’s Renard perfectly and make him a very memorable Bond villain indeed. (Notably he also comes much closer to achieving his destructive goals than many of Bond’s adversaries.)
4- Francesco Scaramanga
A merciless assassin with three nipples, a flying car and a gun made of solid gold- Christopher Lee played Francesco Scaramanga in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. Lee portrayed Scaramanga perfectly with a remarkably sinister confidence- his threat was a refined and civilised one. Scaramanga’s uniqueness comes in that he sees killing as a sport and one at which he excels. His final duel with Bond on his island home is another amazing set piece classically-Bond climax. Ko Khao Phing Kan- the island where the film’s final scenes were shot, is now a popular tourist destination for fans and is referred to as ‘James Bond Island’.
Simplistic, immensely strong and frankly ridiculous (as some of the greatest Bond characters and moments are). Oddjob was played by Japanese-American actor Toshiyuki Sakata, who was an Olympic weightlifter and professional wrestler. His expertise in those fields is immediately apparent in his size and when it comes to his character, the threat of his gargantuan strength is only topped by that of his bowler hat, which is equipped with a razor sharp brim and is somehow capable of cutting through solid steel. A novelty character- make no mistake, but can anyone who’s seen Goldfinger ever forget Oddjob?
2- Raoul Silva
Played by Javier Bardem, Silva essentially revived the classical Bond villain formula in the wake of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace featuring grittier, less characterful villains (not that those villains were ‘bad’, but their gritty, real world personas would perhaps have been more at home facing down Jason Bourne than James Bond). Silva though, re-dressed the balance, he’s not quite the zany villain of old (think Jaws, Oddjob or Nick Nack,) but his excellent monologue, his William Tell-esque challenge for Bond and his intense fascination with M all marked him out as something different than the run of the mill, action film villain. That is exactly what a Bond villain has to be and as a result Bardem’s performance as Silva was a great relief to Bond fans who resented the largely forgettable villains of Quantum of Solace.
1- Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Without Blofeld, there is no Bond. Appearing in 4 films (and semi-appearing in several more, 1965’s Thunderball exemplifies this,) the head of SPECTRE is an ever present threat to MI6 and looks likely to make an exciting return in 2015’s Spectre. Having been played by Telly Savalas, Anthony Dawson, Charles Gray and Donald Pleasance his latest iteration looks to be in the hands of Christoph Waltz (Waltz denies this, but stars have done similarly before and the evidence in the teaser trailer is near un-questionable, Waltz looks to be sat at the head of a table of SPECTRE agents, saying only ‘Welcome James, it’s been a long time’). Waltz’s performance as a vicious yet characterful Nazi officer in Inglorious Basterds makes it easy to see how he could well be the perfect actor to play James Bond’s ultimate adversary and Spectre’s title also hints that that is what we’re soon likely to see.
By George Storr