Thus far in the Daniel Craig series of James Bond villains, we’ve had heavy-hitters like Mads Mikkelsen, Jesper Christensen, Mathieu Amalric, Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista, and Andrew Scott. Now, in Craig’s last shot at the role, the unfortunately delayed No Time to Die, a recent Oscar-winner joins the list: Rami Malek. And per a recent profile of the actor in GQ, many of the film’s creative team is insistent that Malek’s take as Safin will be the biggest, most frightening, and most stakes-shattering Bond villain yet. In other words, Craig’s reign of Bond is going out with a bang.
Malek knew the giant stakes of taking this role going into the film, and they excited him. “It’s a 007 film, man. They’re a part of our cinematic history,” told Malek to GQ. “An opportunity to go toe-to-toe, head-to-head with Daniel and give them all I got? That’s something I’ll look back on as as big as it gets.” And Craig himself, with some typically English understating, agreed with Malek: “When you’re working with Rami, you just know he is aware of all those things. He’s got this big, active brain, so I know he’s pushing all the right buttons… Rami knows me. He understands the weight of what he’s playing. He understands he’s playing a Bond villain – what that means, what it means historically and the kind of Bond villains that have come before. Rami’s really good at his job. I mean, that’s an understatement.”
To develop his take on the villain, Malek sat down with director Cary Joji Fukunaga to discuss “what would truly frighten us, what would send a real panic into our hearts. It’s that sense of dread that sets it apart.” Fukunaga himself said that this intensity in villainy, perhaps more akin to a horror villain than a traditional spy villain, was baked into the intensity of the overall film: “Once we got into Christoph Waltz/Blofeld territory, you can’t go small again. We had to think bigger. It’s tricky because you don’t want to make a cliché super villain, but you have to make someone that’s threatening not only to Bond and the people he loves but to the world at large.” It’s an interesting statement, given that Craig’s Bond run has been set apart in large part because of its smaller-scale focus on the bruised character of Bond and the people he loves. Does this mean No Time to Die will be the perfect fusion of the global stakes of early Bond films with the closed-off intensity of Craig Bond films? Only time (of which there is none left to die) will tell.
No Time to Die is currently scheduled to hit theaters April 2, 2021.