One thing that is interesting in the Bond film series as much as the title character is the exciting James Bond villains who always evoke mayhem in every installment of the acclaimed franchise. The role of the antagonists in all of the James Bond novels and film series cannot be underestimated when weighing the success of a particular installment. These villains add more life, suspense, and action to the scenes and without their evil looming in the background, it might just be the suave Mr. Bond and his beautiful women playing love scenes.
A lot of actors have played the famous James Bond villains but some left more indelible marks than the others with their stellar performances. From Raoul Silva to Le Chiffre, Sir Hugo Drax and Jaws, we bring you a rundown of some of the renowned James Bond villains and the actors who gave life to them.
Famous James Bond Villains And The Actors Who Played Them
Truly, there have been a lot of well-played James Bond villains portrayed by famous actors of great repute but we picked some of the best from the pack. Enjoy the read.
1. Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem)
Ranked among the best of the James Bond villains the film series has ever seen, Raoul Silva is the primary antagonist in the 2012 James Bond installment titled Skyfall. He used to be an MI6 agent but as a result of a grudge, he turns to cyberterrorism with the agency where he used to work as his main target.
Notably, Silva, whose real name is Tiago Rodriguez, hacked into Chinese confidential files, causing M, the head of the MI6 station he was working for, to give him up to be captured in exchange for some previously imprisoned agents. The torture he suffered while in confinement left him broken and he even attempted suicide – an incident that left most part of his body disfigured. When he finally escaped from custody, he changed his name and other things about him, as well as set out for revenge against M.
Academy Award-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem gave life to the character, bagging rave reviews for his performance. His execution of the role also earned him BAFTA and SAG nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
2. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen)
Addressed by several nicknames including Die Nummer, Mr. Number, Herr Ziffer, and just about any name relating to figures in other languages, Le Chiffre has been portrayed by several actors but Mads Mikkelsen gave the character an exciting twist. Le Chiffre is the main villain in the first among the James Bond novels – Casino Royale. The role was first played by Peter Lorre in 1954, in a television adaptation. Orson Welles then depicted the role in 1967 while Mads Mikkelsen picked it up in the 2006 version of Casino Royale.
Mads got the role so easily during casting that people speculated he slept with someone to land the spot. Though the Danish actor did not win an award for the role, he did a good job playing it.
3. Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi)
Among the James bond villains with a fierce look, Franz Sanchez was played by American actor Robert John Davi in a few projects, prominent among which is the 1989 James Bond project Licence to Kill. He is the main antagonist, a Mexican drug baron who is notorious for dealing with government officials in the most gruesome ways. James Bond was able to use his weakness against him, manipulating him to kill his own men.
4. Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce)
portrayed by Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce, the fictional character of Elliot Carver is one of the unforgettable James Bond villains. A media Baron with a scheming persona, Carver is the main villain in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. He is the media mogul in charge of the Carver Media Group Network through which he not only reports events but also make them happen. He has a vain, vengeful and manipulative personality which helped him go to any length to make his business prosper. However, his physical appearance doesn’t give him away as a villain and he relies on his henchmen to fight his wars.
5. Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean)
Asides the legendary James Bond (007), other 00 Agents with a few exceptions are often given minimal screentime. Alec Trevelyan (006) is actually the only one who played a substantial role in his James Bond movie appearance, followed by 009 who played a brief part. Others just get a hasty appearance or are killed off shortly after appearing.
Trevelyan, as portrayed by actor Sean Bean in GoldenEye (1995), is highly revered among the best James Bond villains by fans and critics alike. The fictional character was an MI6 agent but betrayed the organization during a mission where he also stagged his own death. He reappears nine years later as a reinvented Russian military man with the name Janus. Though it didn’t earn Bean any award, the villainous character is also seen in the video game GoldenEye 007 (1997).
6. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz, Telly Savalas, and More)
Christoph Waltz portrayed the villain and criminal mastermind named Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond film Spectre in 2015. The character features in three James Bond novels: Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice. Blofeld has also appeared in seven films from Eon Productions, including From Russia with Love (1963), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), For Your Eyes Only (1981), as well as Spectre (2015).
Asides Waltz, several other actors, including Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, and Charles Gray, among many more have played the role in different projects but Christopher Waltz is the latest to give life to the character. The James Bond villain has his background information infused in the stories he appeared in. He was was born on 28 May 1908 (James Bond creator’s birthday) in Gdingen, Imperial Germany. He has both Polish and Greek ancestry and studied Political History and Economics at the University of Warsaw. Blofeld also got a degree in Engineering and Radionics from the Warsaw University of Technology.
7. Maximillian “Max” Zorin (Christopher Walken)
A leading businessman, Maximillian “Max” Zorin is the main villain in A View to a Kill (1985), portrayed by Christopher Walken, an actor of great repute. The character was born before World War II ended, he then left his birthplace (Dresden) and moved to France where he established himself as a businessman. His birth is a product of medical experimentation conducted by the Nazis to produce super-strong children. The character who is known for his affiliation with the KGB was initially given to David Bowie but he turned the offer down and so did Rutger Hauer.
8. Jaws (Richard Kiel)
Inspired by Ian Fleming’s description of a hoodlum named Sol “Horror” Horowitz, Jaws is one of the James Bond villains we hate to love. He appeared in two installments of the James Bond film series – The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, portrayed by Richard Kiel in both films. The character is depicted as a monstrous killer, brutal, strong and uses his steel teeth to scare, as well as get rid of the victims who fall into his net.
Jaws’ popular teeth were added to the character by Albert R. Broccoli and after shooting, they were displayed during an exhibition at The Science Museum located in London. The character was first seen in the 1997 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me but he was a henchman working for the main villain. His next appearance was in Moonraker 1979 and he has made other appearances, including in 007 video games.
9. Sir Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale)
Portrayed by French actor Michael Lonsdale, Sir Hugo Drax is the main villain in Moonraker with Jaws as one of his henchmen. The character is a World War II hero of English descent. He stands at an intimidating height of 6ft and has red hair with a face that is badly scarred as a result of an attack during the war. Drax became a millionaire shortly after the war from trading metals and later established his company Drax Metals Ltd. Notably, the inspiration for the name of the character was influenced by Ian Fleming’s friend, Sir Reginald Drax.
10. May Day (Grace Jones)
If you thought the James Bond villains are only left for the men to play, think again. May Day served as the lover and henchwoman of Max Zorin, as well as one of the major James Bond villains in the 1985 film A View to a Kill. The character was played by American-Jamaican model Grace Jones. May Day is the main bodyguard of the chief villain and is in charge of an all-female team of guards charged with the task of protecting the main villain. However, she later turned against Zorin when she realizes he left her to die, she then set out to foil his plans, forming an alliance with Bond in the process. May Day died in a bomb blast that she actually saw coming.
Sophie Marceau is another woman who has played a villain in the Bond series. Her character is named Elektra King, Bond’s love interest in The World Is Not Enough, whom he later killed with a single gunshot.