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The Bond villain is a coveted role that sees MI6’s best facing some of the most cunning and vicious villains in film history. Many great actors have played memorable villains such as Donald Pleasence as the most iconic version of Blofeld, Christopher Lee as the three nippled Scaramanga, Sean Bean played a former companion of Bond’s and the revenge driven Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem.
Bond 25 is now in pre-production with a planned 2019 release and Daniel Craig playing Bond for a final time. Seeing that this is going to be Craig’s last outing as 007 he deserves a worthy foe and here are ten actors who would be up for the challenge.
Vincent Cassel is a recognizable actor who has appeared in films in his native France and in numerous English language films. Throughout his career he has played characters that ranged from being morally dubious to outright villains – some of his notable performances include being a raged-filled young man who wants to kill a cop in La Haine, a man who kills his girlfriend’s rapist in Irréversible, the artistic director of the New York Ballet who pushes Natalie Portman to explore her dark side in Black Swan and French gangster/Robin Hood figure Jacques Mesrine – a role that earned him the César Award for Best Actor (the French equivalent of the Oscars).
Recently Cassel played the role of The Asset in Jason Bourne, – a role that had huge potential – a Blackbriar assassin who was captured and tortured after Bourne exposes Blackbriar operations. But his character was ruined when it revealed that The Asset also killed Bourne’s father.
A Cassel Bond villain could be a man who grew up in poverty – who ended up being a gangster or industrialist who Bond has to investigate or Cassel could be an agent betrayed by MI6 and the CIA – and desires nothing but revenge against the agencies.
Cassel is also multilingual: he is able to speak French, English, Portuguese and Italian and learned to speak Russian for his role in Eastern Promise. Useful skills for anyone working in espionage.
Through the Bond franchises 55-year run (64 if you count the novels) there has only ever been one woman who was the main villain, Elektra King in The World is Not Enough. Whilst The World is Not Enough is not remembered fondly by most Bond fans (I think it is very underrated), Sophie Marceau nailed the role of a seemingly traumatized kidnapped villain who was really the mastermind that wanted revenge against M and a huge profit for her oil company by nuking Istanbul.
The Bond franchise could easily accommodate another major female villain and an actress who could do the role justice would be Jessica Chastain. Chastain has had a meteoric rise in 2011 and she has appeared in many major films like Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar and The Martian and landed a major role in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Chastain has the ability to play a villainess, as a cold ice queen and a manipulator and make her a compelling screen presence, having a dark and tragic backstory.
Chastain has a distinctive look because of her red head and at 40 years of age it would be believable that she would be able to obtain a senior role in espionage, crime or industry.
Best known for his lead role in 2003’s Oldboy, Choi Min-sik is a talented actor from South Korea and appeared in some of the best films that that nation has had to offer in the past two decades. Choi has started in a great collection of dark thrillers like I Saw the Devil, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and the aforementioned Oldboy – films that have a dark and blurred sense of morality. Choi would be able to use those characteristics to play the Bond villain. The hallway fight in Oldboy shows that Choi has the fighting ability that a Bond villain would need.
Choi could play an East Asian crime lord or weapons dealers who fled North Korea as a youngster and worked his way up in the South Korean and later Pacific Rim criminal world. Or because of South Korea’s advanced economy could be an executive at a high-tech company who uses his wealth and power for a classic Bond villain scheme.
The risk with Choi is his lack of English and his art-house sensibilities. The other issue is making the villain East Asian may affect Bond 25’s box-office return in Asia, but this could be countered if Bond has a major ally from China or South Korea.
Since starring in District 9, Sharlto Copley has had a massive rise as an actor – appearing in films like The A-Team, Oldboy (2013) and Hardcore Henry. His best work has been with Neil Blomkamp – starring in all three of his films – and Copley has shown an incredible range in his filmography. Throughout his career Copley has played psychopaths, crazy people, well-groomed individuals and public servants who didn’t realize they were working for the bad guys.
His show stealing performance in Elysium serves as the best example of what a Copley Bond villain could be like. As Kruger, Copley was a ruthless, sadistic henchman who has ambitions of power. He was cunning and a physical threat who was skilled in many forms of combat and had a particular fondness for blades. Copley should have been the main villain of that film.
If Copley is ever cast to be a Bond villain there is one major stipulation: his character has to be South African. Copley is at his best when he uses his native Afrikaans accent and his character could be written to be a former South African special forces soldier turned mercenary causing havoc and misery across Africa and beyond – a man who would have the skills and the cunning to be a match to face Bond.
Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is best known for playing Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones and on one occasion has been touted as a potential Bond – however, at 47-years-old he would be too old to be a viable replacement. However, Coster-Waldau would make a fantastic Bond villain and would easily work as a dark mirror of the MI6 agent.
Coster-Waldau is an obvious handsome man who could play a suave, well-groomed former Double-0 agent or equivalent who went rogue and one Bond has to stop. He could play a villain that is just as skilled as Bond and enjoys the finer things in life. If Bond 25 is Daniel Craig’s last outing as MI6’s then facing a dark mirror villain would be a wonderful way for him to bow out.
The Norwegian thriller Headhunters shows what a Coster-Waldau Bond villain could be like – a handsome ex-soldier turned tech executive who has the determination of a Terminator when hunting the film’s protagonist.
If the Bond series want to go for a villain that is purely psychotic then they can’t do much better than Michael Shannon. Since being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Revolutionary Road, Shannon has become known for playing characters with rage issues. Shannon is best known for playing a religious Prohibition agent turned bootlegger, Nelson Van Alden, who suffers from violent outbursts – one of the most notable being hitting a man in the face with a burning hot iron. Shannon’s also had a memorable role as General Zod in Man of Steel, – a scenery chewing performance from the actor.
Shannon’s villain could be a leader of an organization he dominates with fear – meaning no one is willing to turn against him and if a double agent is discovered within his organization Shannon’s character would gleefully torture them. He could be one of the most ruthless and cruel villains Bond could ever face.
Back before the production of Skyfall it was rumored that Michael Sheen was being considered to play the villain: some rumors even suggested he was set to play Blofeld. Despite not getting the role the Welsh actor would still be a fantastic choice to play a Bond villain.
Sheen has had an incredible acting resume on stage and screen: he has played former British Prime Minister Tony Blair three times, presenter/interviewer David Frost and soccer manager Brian Clough. Sheen is also willing to appear in genre films such as Tron: Legacy, The Twilight Saga and the Underworld series – which he got into incredible shape for.
Sheen has plenty of experience playing charming if smarmy characters which would be a great way to play a Bond villain – an anti-Bond if you will. Sheen has overacted when he has played villains but if he plays the character like Javier Bardem played Raoul Silva – someone who is able to mix being sinister and theatrical.
Born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia, Mark Strong is a British actor of Italian and Austrian descent and known for playing villains in Sherlock Holmes (2009), Kick-Ass and John Carter. Standing at 6’2″ Strong lives up to his name and is an imposing figure – having a broad frame and a lot of muscles.
Strong has a versatile look and throughout he has played people from different backgrounds – besides from playing British characters, Strong has also played an Italian-American gangster in Kick-Ass, Arab characters in Syriana, Body of Lies and Black Gold and the head of South African intelligence in the TV film Endgame. Strong also speaks fluent German and some Italian. It would be easy for Strong to play a mysterious man with a mysterious background that intelligence services around the world don’t know anything about. Strong could be the threat of brains and brawl.
Another South African actor to make this list is Charlize Theron. She is an obviously accomplished actress, winning an Oscar for her role as Aileen Wuornos in Monster. 2017 has seen Theron have an actioner double whammy, starring in Atomic Blonde and The Fate of the Furious. She got to kick ass in East Berlin as Lorraine Broughton, including that incredible stairwell fist fight, and as Cipher Theron was pretty much a Bond villain, a hacker with her own high tech plane.
Theron has played villainous roles – most noticeably as Queen Ravenna in the Huntsman films, although it was an excuse for her to chew the scenery, yet she has the talent to either play a theatrical villain or someone nuanced.
Theron can perform the role with an American or English accent and whilst she no longer has a South African accent she is able to speak Afrikaans and she could use her language skills when playing a villain.
If the Bond franchise wants to be bold Theron could play a former Bond girl and an agent who turns on both Bond and MI6 and be the female version of Alec Trevelyan from GoldenEye.
Fans of Indonesian action films will know Iko Uwais as the lead of The Raid series and Headshot and he would be dream casting to play a villain’s henchman. At 34-years-old, Uwais is 15 years younger than Craig and his youth, agility and martial arts ability could mean Bond face an opponent that could kick his ass and his casting would be similar to the freerunner Sébastien Foucan in Casino Royale.
Uwais could be the henchman Bond faces in the pre-title sequence – could be either the main villain’s main bodyguard or be an ex-Indonesian secret agent or criminal who became an assassin for hire.
Uwais could continue the long tradition of silent henchmen in the Bond series.