The Daily Mail is reporting that the greatest Bond villain of all time might be making a return: It’s been more than 30 years since James Bond faced evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld, his most feared adversary.
But now the intimidating baddie – famous for his trademark white cat and for gruesomely disposing of his failing underlings – is back. Django Unchained star Christoph Waltz is tipped to play the evil genius in a new 007 movie which is due to begin shooting next month.
The 58-year-old double Oscar-winner will join an elite band of stars who have previously played the role. Donald Pleasence starred as Bond’s nemesis in You Only Live Twice in 1967, followed by Kojak star Telly Savalas in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The smooth-voiced British actor Charles Gray took the part in Diamonds Are Forever in 1971.
Blofeld had previously featured in From Russia With Love in 1963, and in 1965’s Thunderball – but the character’s face was not shown and only his lower body was visible as he stroked his white Angora cat.
The villain made his last appearance in an ‘official’ Bond film in 1981 when he featured in For Your Eyes Only. In a nail-biting opening scene Blofeld is hanging from an helicopter which is being piloted by Roger Moore’s James Bond. The scene ends with Blofeld being dropped down a huge brick industrial chimney close to the River Thames in London.
Waltz’s involvement in the new film – which has the working title ‘Bond 24’ – will be confirmed at a press conference to be held in the first week of December. Eon productions, which owns the James Bond film franchise, will announce the star is playing an unknown character called Franz Oberhauser, son of the late Hans Oberhauser, a ski instructor who acted as a father figure to Bond.
But senior sources believe the casting is a double bluff worthy of 007 himself and that Waltz is actually playing Blofeld. One Hollywood source, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Christoph Waltz is playing Blofeld in the next Bond film. The tone of the 007 films has changed significantly in recent years and the producers have changed the character to fit in with the new-look 007.’
Blofeld’s return is now possible because of the settlement of a long-running legal dispute involving Eon Productions and the estate of the late Kevin McClory – a film producer and former friend of 007 author Ian Fleming – over who owns the right to the character and his evil empire SPECTRE.
Blofeld, who was also known as No 1, quickly established himself as the archetypal Bond villain when he made his big-screen debut in From Russia With Love. His sinister one-liners and increasingly ingenious methods of dispensing of his underlings made him an instant hit.
But Bond villains have an almost superhuman capacity to cheat death, and there was no close-up shot of Blofeld’s body when he was dropped down the chimney in For Your Eyes Only.
In any case, the character reappeared alive and well in the ‘unofficial’ Bond film Never Say Never Again when Max von Sydow played Blofeld.
The name of the villain was inspired by Thomas Blofeld, a schoolmate of Fleming at Eton. His son is Henry Blofeld, the cricket radio commentator.
Sources say the new Blofeld will be just as sinister as earlier incarnations but will be more sophisticated and less ‘campy’.
Blofeld remains one of the most popular villains in cinema history and his influence is obvious in the Austin Powers films which spoof the Bond franchise. Powers’s secret agent has to do battle with the bald headed Dr Evil and his cat Mr Bigglesworth.
Pre-production work on ‘Bond 24’ has already started in Austria, and Waltz’s co-stars will be Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as spymaster M and Ben Whishaw as Q.
Michael G Wilson, who co-produces the Bond films with his half-sister Barbara Broccoli, last night declined to comment on the return of Blofeld. A spokeswoman for EON productions also declined to comment.
Source: The Daily Mail