10 Best... James Bond Villains
SPECTRE, the 24th film featuring Ian Fleming's famous spy, sees Daniel Craig returning for his fourth stint as James Bond. Alongside Craig is a cast featuring Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Andrew Scott, Lea Seydoux and Dave Bautista, with Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris also returning to reprise their roles as MI6 gadget supremo Q and Eve Moneypenny. Perhaps the most exciting new addition though is Christoph Waltz, who appears as mysterious villain Franz Oberhauser.
Waltz has some impressive form playing villainous characters – particularly the sinister Hans Landa from Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds – and the general consensus seems to be that Waltz is an inspired choice and he joins a long list of brilliant Bond villains that have appeared on our screens over the last fifty years, so we thought we'd celebrate the best of the Bond baddies and we've picked our all time Top 10 Bond villains below. Enjoy...
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10. Emilio Largo
Making his first on-screen appearance in Thunderball in 1965, Emilio Largo is the eye patch wearing second-in-command of SPECTRE and the film's main antagonist, played originally by Sicilian actor Adolfo Celi (although the character also featured in the non-canonical remake Never Say Never Again, this time played by Klaus Maria Brandauer and equipped with two fully-functioning eyeballs). The original though is still one of the most iconic villains and one of several Bond characters parodied in the Austin Powers films. He also has a pretty sinister henchman in Mr. Vargas.
Best Line: “Vargas does not drink, does not smoke, does not make love. What do you do, Vargas? Every man has his passion. Mine's fishing.”
The Brosnan years were, it has to be said, a bit light on seriously menacing villains, but every rule there's an exception and in this case that exception surely has to Viktor Zokas - better known to his enemies as Renard - from The World Is Not Enough. Played by Robert Carlyle, Renard is an ex-KGB assassin whose sinister appearance is matched only by his inability to feel pain, the result of a bullet lodged in his head (put there by 009) that has disconnected the pain receptors in his brain.
Best Line: “You can't kill me, I'm already dead.”
8. Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big
Live and Let Die features not one but two of the best Bond henchmen in the steel-clawed Tee-Hee and the top-hatted voodoo loa Baron Samedi, but in a film heavily influenced by the blaxploitation films of the early 1970s the boss of them all is drug kingpin Mr. Big, a false persona invented by the real villain of the piece, Dr. Kananga. Kananga is both the owner of a restaurant chain named 'Fillet of Soul' and the dictator of the (fictional) Caribbean island of San Monique, but while he might not be the scariest Bond villain on our list, he does have arguably the best death scene in any Bond film ever (see clip below).
Best Line: “Names is for tombstones, baby!”
7. Max Zorin
Christopher Walken brings his unique brand of villainous chicanery to Roger Moore's final Bond film, A View to a Kill, which also features another of the best henchmen – or should that be henchwomen – in the form of Mayday, played in typically terrifying fashion by Grace Jones. But it's Walken's character, Max Zorin, who is running the show here and he has possibly the most perfect villain curriculum vitae of any Bond character. He's ex-KGB, he's a multi-millionaire with a penchant for gambling (which he's good at, of course, because he cheats by pumping his racehorses full of steroids) and as if that wasn't enough he's also the product of a Nazi genetic experiment, making him extremely intelligent and abnormally strong, as well as psychopathic.
Best Line: “Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius.”
6. Le Chiffre
Mads Mikkelsen is another actor with some impressive form playing bad guys, having just completed a three-season stretch as Hannibal Lecter, but his appearance in Casino Royale has to rank as one of his most sinister. The main villain of the film, Le Chiffre, acts as a banker for many of the world's criminal organisations, is a maths genius and a chess prodigy who, like many Bond villains, enjoys a bit of high stakes gambling – a habit which eventually costs him his life. After some lukewarm villains in the preceding Brosnan films, Le Chiffre's sadism and his habit of crying blood mark him out as a return to properly scary Bond villains. Mikkelsen's ice cool portrayal is a million miles from Woody Allen's version in the non-canonical 1967 film... and did we mention that he cries blood? Oh, we did. Good.
Best Line: “Wow. You've taken good care of your body. Such a waste...”
5. Auric Goldfinger
Appearing for the first and only time in Goldfinger, the film that bears his name, Auric Goldfinger is another of the many Bond villains with a fondness for gambling – and cheating – as well as being the employer of Oddjob, the former Korean wrestler turned henchman who is possibly the only character in the history of cinema that kills people with a bowler hat. Goldfinger's real passion though is not cards, or even golf, but a fondness for gold, so much so that he hatches a plan to blow up Fort Knox in an attempt to raise the value of his own stock.
Best Line: “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”
4. Francisco Scaramanga
The titular antagonist from The Man With the Golden Gun, assassin Francisco Scaramanga is so good at killing people he has become bored at how easy it is, so much so in fact that he has gone to considerable lengths to entrap Bond and create an elaborate game in which to hunt and kill him. Alternatively known as the man with three nipples and played brilliantly by the late, great Christopher Lee, Scaramanga has got the lot: the physical disfigurement, the elaborately constructed secret island hideout and even the creepy servant / henchman, NikNak, who may be less than 110 centimetres tall, but is sneaky, untrustworthy and, according to Scaramanga, a brilliant chef. He also has the rare distinction of being the only villain to be the subject of the film's theme song, packed with more innuendo than you could shake your proverbial weapon at.
Best Line: “I like a girl in a bikini. No concealed weapons.”
3. Raoul Silva
He may be one of the newest additions to the bond villain roster, but Javier Bardem is just plain terrifying as former MI6 agent-turned-cyber terrorist Raoul Silva in Skyfall, and fully deserves to be this high up on our list. He's bent on killing M as revenge for him being abandoned by MI6 and captured by the Chinese, who subject him to torture. He's also got the physical disfigurement that seems to be so common with Bond villains, the result of a botched suicide attempt using a cyanide pill lodged in one of his molars, melting away most of his teeth and part of his upper jaw. Most of all though, he's the only bond villain who has succeeded in killing M, leaving Ralph Fiennes' Gareth Mallory to take up the mantle, so he earns extra baddie points for that.
Best Line: “She sent you after me, knowing you're not ready, knowing you would likely die. Mommy was very bad.”
2. Dr. Julius No
The original Bond villain, and still one of the best, Dr. No's eponymous bad guy pretty much set the template for all future Bond villains. He has the hidden underwater lair, the physical disfiguration in the form of his metal, cybernetic hands (replacements for the ones cut off by Chinese gangsters when he stole their money), not to mention a taste for exotic methods of killing people, such as using venomous spiders. He's also the first character to make Bond aware of the existence of SPECTRE and employs a team of lethal henchman known as the Three Blind Mice. He ticks all the boxes and there's really only one villain that can top him...
Best Line: “The successful criminal brain is always superior. It has to be.”
1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Quite literally Number One, in every sense, Blofeld is the head honcho at SPECTRE and has been played by no fewer than five different actors over the years, but the most memorable of these must be Donald Pleasance, whose scarred face in You Only Live Twice provided the basis for Austin Powers' nemesis Dr. Evil. Often appearing only as a pair of hands stroking a white, fluffy cat, Blofeld is the brains behind almost every nefarious operation Bond has to deal with and although by the end of Thunderball he is presumed dead, he has a habit of escaping death to rival Bond himself, so who knows if we'll see him again?
Best Line: “Such nice cheeks too. If only they were brains.”