By Barry Koltnow, The Orange County Register –
“You expect me to talk?” James Bond says with a defiant air, even as he is strapped to a table with a laser beam moving perilously close to a sensitive area of his body.
“No, Mr. Bond,” says the unsmiling villain. “I expect you to die.”
Who could ever forget that iconic scene from the 1964 classic “Goldfinger?”
It was only the third movie in the James Bond film franchise, but movie audiences already knew what to expect after “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love.”
They knew to expect a great villain who would be a worthy opponent for 007.
“The hero is only as good as his adversary,” explains Michael G. Wilson, who produces the Bond films with his half-sister Barbara Broccoli.
For that reason, the producers populate their Bond movies with some of the most ingenious and devious villains ever to grace the big screen.
And the new Bond film is no exception. “Skyfall,” the 23rd film in the franchise, returns Daniel Craig for a third time as the British secret agent, and features Oscar winner Javier Bardem as a cyber-terrorist who will rank among the franchise’s best villains.
Broccoli told me this week that the character Silva was written with Bardem in mind, although he had not been approached about playing the role.
Bardem won an Oscar for playing another villain — in the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” — but Broccoli said that role had nothing to do with the producers’ desire to cast him as a Bond villain.
“We wanted him for the simple reason that he is one of the greatest actors on the planet,” she said. “We all wanted him, and thank God he wanted to do it. We thought he would have fun with it, and there was instant chemistry with Daniel. That’s really important because the Bond villain is the dark side of Bond.”
And that is our excuse to list the greatest Bond villains of all time. Before we present our list, however, I thought you might like to know who our two Bond insiders named as their favorite villains.
Wilson said his favorite is Auric Goldfinger (who uttered the aforementioned “I expect you to die”), while Broccoli named Robert Shaw’s character in “From Russia With Love” as her favorite in the early Bond films, and Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin in “A View to a Kill” from later Bond adventures.
The 10 best Bond villains ever:
1. Red Grant — Played by Robert Shaw (long before he took up shark hunting in “Jaws”) in the 1963 film “From Russia With Love,” my favorite Bond film of all time. If he hadn’t given himself away ordering red wine with sole, he might have bested our hero. The struggle inside the train remains one of the best fight sequences of all time.
2. Auric Goldfinger — Played by German actor Gert Frobe in “Goldfinger” (1964), he looked upon Bond as a nuisance. He was too busy trying to corner the world’s gold supply to lower himself to battle Bond personally, so he left that job to number three on our list.
3. Oddjob — Played by actor Harold Sakata, he was Goldfinger’s main henchman, and his weapon of choice was a metal-brimmed bowler. He met a shocking end at Bond’s hands.
4. Rosa Klebb — In “From Russia With Love,” actress Lotte Lenya portrayed this chilling assassin with shoes to die for.
5. Ernst Stavro Blofeld — This villain appeared in more movies that any Bond villain, and was played by the likes of Donald Pleasance (“You Only Live Twice”), Charles Gray (“Diamonds Are Forever”), Anthony Dawson (“From Russia With Love”) and Telly Savalas (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”).
6. Francisco Scaramanga — Most people don’t know this but Christopher Lee was supposed to play Dr. No, but he lost out to Joseph Wiseman. It was worth the wait because Lee was perfect as the three-nippled villain in “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974). A special nod to Nick Nack, Scaramanga’s able sidekick, played by Herve “Tattoo” Villechaize.
7. Le Chiffre — If the mention of this villain’s name doesn’t make you squirm, then you’re probably a woman. Played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen in the 2006 film “Casino Royale,” his method of torture made James hurt where he loves.
8. Max Zorin — David Bowie was an early pick, but thankfully, Christopher Walken won the role in “A View to a Kill” (1985).
9. Jaws — Richard Kiel introduced this villain with the metal teeth in “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), and became as beloved as some of Bond’s closest allies.
10. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd — These very odd hired killers, who we met in “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), actually got the best of our hero, but instead of killing him right away, they got cocky and gave James an opportunity to escape. Played by Bruce Glover (Wint) and Putter Smith (Kidd).