A couple of weeks back we heard Bond 23 screenwriter John Logan heavily hint towards a familiar villainous face returning to torment the world’s most famous spy in the next 007 movie that begins filming very soon. Right now director Sam Mendes and his Bond team are kicking pre-production into a higher gear, recently securing up shooting locations and no doubt putting the last minute casting details in place. We could be just days away from a firm title announcement on the film along with a reveal over who the new villain is. Could it be a return for Blofeld for the first time since the early 80′s?
So as we like to do around here with our Fantasy Casting series, we have put our heads together collectively and come up with 10 actors who really would make great contenders to stroke that white cat and plot world domination.
These choices have been picked by five different WhatCulture! writers (though I myself wrote the ‘Why It Won’t Happen’ part for the majority of the entries) and purposefully missing from the list are Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes who we already know have been offered roles in the new film (at least according to the horse’s mouths themselves) and we can’t be quite sure yet as to what parts they have nabbed. Certainly it could be conceivable that one of them has already taken the role (a lot of clues point towards Ralph Fiennes playing Blofeld or a Blofeld type character as the head of Q.U.A.N.T.U.M, which is a fine choice) but we chose not to complicate things and come up with ten names of our own.
Read them below and let us know what you think and who your personal pick is to play Blofeld…
Why It Should Happen: I’ve got to be honest, I’d watch Tom Hardy in anything; he has an intangible aura, and presence that I just eat up, and in the more villainous and unhinged roles he has so far committed to screen – most notably in Cape Wrath, Star Trek: Nemesis, The Take and Bronson – he exudes menace that is as much about the fire and cold pleasure in his eyes as it is about his considerable size.
Hardy would offer a different take on the Blofeld character that we have never seen – but Blofeld was young once, and he must have got to his position of power through some seriously villainous behaviour. Hardy also has a wonderful voice, with slightly plummy tones and a rough edge that would offer a good mirror to the character’s own inexplicit contradictions – most specifically, of course that traditional contradicition of charisma and evil.
Why It Might Not: Hardy will be finishing up (or perhaps already has completed) his time on The Dark Knight Rises that ends filming next month and he will then prepare for taking on the mantle of Mad Max early next summer. Scheduling wise, I guess it all comes down to whether Hardy needs time off after the physical and mental strain playing Bane must have on him and he may be wary of not wanting to become the franchise man with a place for him also likely in a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy sequel.
Plus he may not want to ruin his chances of perhaps one day playing James Bond by appearing as the villain….
Picked by Simon Gallagher
Daniel Day Lewis
Why It Should Happen: A pick very much on the same lines as Hardy, though with even more presence, and a slightly less overtly wild spirit: two time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis could and should play every notable villain ever, and he has the on-screen power to completely disarm the audience. Combined with the actor’s size, that presence and power would make a Day Lewis Blofeld the biggest ever threat to Bond, which is precisely what Daniel Craig’s so far fairly invincible 007 needs.
The casting of Day-Lewis could be the greatest thing the Bond universe has done in years.
Why It Might Not: Well it simply won’t happen. Daniel Day-Lewis is currently preparing (and with him, that pretty much means living, breathing the role for months and demanding that people refer to him as “Mr. President”) his biopic of the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in an ambitious Steven Spielberg biopic that begins filming around the same time as Bond. So he simply won’t be available… plus he has never once accepted one of these annual offers to play an iconic character in a movie blockbuster and we doubt he is ready to start now.
Picked by Simon Gallagher
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Imagine if you will a Silence of the Lambs era Anthony Hopkins, the perfect portrait of chilling intensity, curiously surveying Daniel Craig’s Bond the same way Lecter sized up Clarice, like a small but horribly poisonous spider toying with a fly caught in his irresistible web. Now tell me that’s not the ultimate image for Blofeld: he isn’t a man who needs to call upon ultra-violence to convince of his malignancy, because his piercing, silent intensity is enough to fill a room with negative energy anyway.
Why It Won’t: Sadly, Hopkins may now be a little old, and his Blofeld may well be too close to Donald Pleasance’s, but that is why it fits so well – Pleasance after all was the greatest of all four actors who have taken on the role so far. There’s very few reasons NOT to cast Hopkins except that he may be too perfect for the role and it may end up being Anthony Hopkins playing Anthony Hopkins as Blofeld (kind of like Jack Nicholson playing Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Batman) rather than Hopkins playing Blofeld. Plus modern Hopkins villains (see “The Rite”) are ridiculously campy.
Picked by Simon Gallagher
Why It Should Happen: Slightly left-field, I’ll concede, but Irishman Brendan Gleeson actually fits the same sort of bill as Donald Pleasance, Telly Savalas and Charles Gray, blending comedy credentials and a disarming charm with a frame of intensity and explosive power when necessary. Gleeson should be cast in a future Bond based on his status as one of Britain’s pre-eminent acting talents, and crucially, his choice would resist the cliches that tend to be attached to the character, and his characteristics. His presence would also be a considerable forte, since many of his former roles have involved physicality, though many have also called for him to mask that power until necessary (see In Bruges), and the idea of this hulking man sitting, menacingly stroking that white cat, possessing the requisite size to overpower, but not the need to use it.
Additionally Gleeson, beyond all others suits Blofeld’s unspoken narrative – he would be the perfect answer for the need to show that Blofeld once had to make his way to the top of the villainous ladder.
Why It Won’t: The only thing going against Gleeson is that he isn’t an A-lister. But then neither were the awesome actors who have played Blofeld in the past or most Bond villains so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Picked by Simon Gallgher
So now the 007 franchise has gone all moody and serious, why not get a thumping good European star to take the role – one with an authentic European voice? Stellan Skarsgard would be fab and he’s often been compared to Max Von Sydow who played Blofeld in renegade flick, Never Say Never Again. But probably even better than Stellan would be Jean Reno: mean, moody, magnificent and, despite being in his 60s, in pretty good physical shape. Plus, like Stellan, he has the acting chops. So bring on Reno, I say… but forget the cat and the Chairman Mao clothes.
Why It Won’t: Perhaps because he has done too many comedies (The Pink Panther movies, Couples Retreat, playing a ludcrious character in The Da Vinci Code) there’s a chance that modern day audiences have forgotten how menacing Jean Reno can actually be. Because of this, he’s probably more likely to actually turn up in an Austin Powers or Johnny English film than a serious Bond flick.
Picked by Tony Greenway
Why It Should Happen: Despite Blofeld being James Bond’s arch enemy he has never really had much opportunity to do much ass-kicking so that is why I have chosen Jason Statham for my fantasy casting. With Bond of late taking a more brutal approach and a shoot first, ask questions later style of interrogation I think Statham would be the perfect opponent for Daniel Craig’s Bond. There is little point in playing Blofeld as a feeble old guy with a white cat when the current Bond would just take him out with one punch. I want to see a Blofeld that is more than a match for Bond and Statham has certainly proved himself in the butt-kicking department in The Transporter films. It would also be great to see him in a bad guy role plus he is already bald so shaving his head would not be a problem.
Why It Won’t: For all the reasons it should happen.
Picked by Chris Wright
Why It Should Happen: Since being Oscar-nominated for his supporting role in Revolutionary Road, Michael Shannon has turned up in a wide range of films, including two collaborations with Werner Herzog – his sort-of remake of Bad Lieutenant and the David Lynch-produced My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?. Uniting all of his roles is a freakish and strange charisma which sends shivers down one’s spine. His unusual features and silently aggressive posture make him the perfect choice for Bond’s nemesis.
He’s a naturally intimidating screen presence, with huge amount of menace and facial expressions that could kill.
Why It Won’t: Assuming he’s comfortable playing pantomime villains, it will depend on his commitments with Man of Steel, where he fills Terence Stamp’s shoes as General “Kneel Before” Zod. Two iconic screen villains together for Shannon just seems so unlikely.
Picked by: Daniel Mumby
Why It Should Happen: Still best known to many as Dobby the House Elf from Harry Potter films, Toby Jones as every bit as chameleonic as Blofeld himself. Truman Capote in Infamous, Smee in Finding Neverland, Karl Rove in W. and Armin Zola in Captain America are just some of a huge range of credits. His outstanding recent performance as Percy Alleline in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy proves that he is at home in the spy thriller genre, while his brooding, cerebral presence in Frost/Nixon gives him the same sense of suave danger that Charles Gray captured in Diamonds are Forever.
Why him? Because like Blofeld, he could be absolutely anyone.
Why It Won’t Happen: Outside of the fact he is mostly seen by the general public as “That guy!” (which should be a positive and has allowed him to play such a variety of different roles) and isn’t a household name (but he is a household face), there is absoulutely no reason he couldn’t be Blofeld in Bond 23. His casting to us seems highly possible, especially if all the awards talk for TTSS amounts to anything by December.
Picked by Daniel Mumby
Why It Should Happen: As soon as director Sam Mendes was hired to direct Bond 23, he reportedly made a phone call to Kevin Spacey, his Oscar winning star of his Oscar winning debut film American Beauty and offered him a villain role but the actor turned it down because he is too busy with his duties at the Old Vic. Plus after playing Lex Luthor, he may have grown sick of playing blockbuster villains. But is the fact Mendes made a phone call to Spacey, an actor who played the aforementioned other iconic follically challenged bad-guy intent on world domination, proof alone that Blofeld is in the new movie and Spacey should really be playing him?
Certainly in the 90′s he made his name as a ruthless, cerebral villain in movies like Se7en and The Usual Suspects. He then went on to give challenging and towering powerhouse performances time and time again. There’s few actors on the planet who could chew the scene as Blofeld better than him…
Why It Won’t: Well he may have ALREADY turned down the role and let’s remember, after his run of awards season flicks he found modern day filmmaking increasingly uninteresting and turned himself to theatre, rarely returning to mainstream cinema. He mostly does indie fare now or will turn up for something fun (Horrible Bosses most recently) but if he were ever to play a Bond villain it probably would be in a Sam Mendes directed movie. But as we’ve said, it sounds like he turned it down already.
Picked by Matt Holmes
Why It Should Happen: The question isn’t so much why it should happen but how has it not happened yet? British actor Mark Strong has appeared as the baddie in Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Kick-Ass, in the future Green Lantern 2, Rock ‘n’ Rolla, Stardust and many, many, many more films and t.v. productions. Like Alan Rickman before him, he has become Hollywood’s go to villain, PLUS, he is bald! How more perfect can you get?
Let’s not forget his screen intensity is off the charts and he can play a ruthless cold hearted bastard as good as anyone. Plus unlike the Blofeld’s in the past, he looks like he could take Bond in a fight.
Why It Won’t: Simply because it is too obvious. Maybe he’s just played too many villains in the past that he has ruled himself out?
Picked by Matt Holmes
So there we have it our ten choices of who should play Blofeld in Bond 23. Who is your favourite?
This article was first posted on October 3, 2011