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Bond Villain Alumni Round-Up

Everyone* knows that Ronin features three actors who also played Bond villains: Sean Bean from GoldenEye, Jonathan Pryce from Tomorrow Never Dies and Michael Lonsdale from Moonraker.

* potentially

Are there any other movies featuring three of the superspy’s nemeses?
 
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly fits, but only if you count the hors-série, lawsuit-spawned Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again as a proper James Bond film. That unofficial seventh tour of duty for Sean Connery includes a cameo from Max Von Sydow as übervillain Blofeld, and Sydow’s co-stars in Diving Bell include Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene in Quantum of Solace) and Isaach De Bankolé (Obanno in Casino Royale).
 
If it’s that easy, there must be others.
 
I thought a good place to start my research would be the career of Steven Berkoff, who played the demented warmongering General Orlov in Octopussy and has 111 other acting credits to his name. Sadly he has worked with far fewer other Bond villains than I’d hoped. Scrolling through his IMDb page quickly becomes an act of futility.

Next stop: the even more prolific Christopher Walken, who was the second best thing about A View to a Kill after the awesome Duran Duran title song. Sleepy Hollow matches Walken with Christopher Lee who was of course the titular, triple-titted Man with the Golden Gun (I’m saving him for later). Alas, Sleepy Hollow features no other villainous alumni despite Tim Burton’s usual gallery of grotesques.

Telly Savalas, the best of the official Blofelds (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), leads me to the unwatched, will-never-watch Biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told. His co-stars include (promisingly) Von Sydow, (hilariously) John Wayne and (interestingly) David Hedison, one of only two actors to return as Bond’s erstwhile CIA buddy and master of disguise Felix Leiter. Best of all, Donald Pleasance from You Only Live Twice plays “The Dark Hermit - Satan”. This not only gives us three villains, but does so with an unholy trinity of Blofelds—again, if you count Never Say Never Again—and a bonus Leiter.

Fuck it, let’s try Christopher Lee. Of course—he was in The Lord of the Rings with Sean Bean and Lawrence Makaore (lazily-named Mr Kil in Die Another Day). A few clicks confirm that they were all in the same cinema-released, not-special-edition instalment of the trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, if it matters). As a cherry on the cake, Makaore gets appendages sliced off in both Fellowship and Die Another Day.

Die Hard comes frustratingly close, featuring two major Timothy Dalton-botherers: Andreas Wisniewski from The Living Daylights and Robert Davi, who was the scariest villain of the series in Licence to Kill. In Die Hard, Davi’s FBI partner (and namesake) is Grand L. Bush, who has a minor role in Licence to Kill but not as a villain—he was, at best, a by-the-book annoyance summarily ignored by Dalton. As some kind of crew bonus, though, the scores for Die Hard and Licence to Kill were both written by Michael Kamen.

Munich must receive an honourable mention as Daniel Craig appears alongside both Lonsdale and Amalric. However, having scoured the full and extensive cast list on IMDb, I cannot find anyone else who played even a second-tier Bond villain. One could make the case that in Casino Royale Craig plays Bond as his own worst enemy, ultimately losing the girl and about $120,000,000 which we never see recovered, but I can’t in good conscience categorise him as a bad guy.
 
As long as we’re handing out booby prizes, one must go to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The main cast features a former Bond (Connery, of coursh), a former Bond villain (Julian Glover, For Your Eyes Only) and arguably a former Bond girl (Alison Doody). I say arguably because Doody’s principal function in A View to a Kill is to set up a couple of Roger Moore’s awful horseriding-themed sexual puns, but she still gets more lines than “Cigar Girl” in The World is Not Enough and her character's name is spoken out loud and recorded in the credits. These three Bond alumni also occupy the same dramatic positions in Last Crusade: hero, villain and semi-romantic interest.
 
Astonishingly, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy doesn’t feature a single Bond villain, despite an extensive cast of actors who would fit the profile—including but not limited to Gary Oldman, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds and Simon McBurney. How has Ciarán Hinds never played a bad guy in a Bond film? Surely an administrative error—and if it was corrected then Munich would have the record-breaking combination of one James Bond and three villains. There's still time.
 
In summary, the only films featuring three official Bond villains are Ronin and The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. If we open the competition to unofficial Bond villains (ie. Max Von Sydow) then we can also count The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Greatest Story Ever Told. If that’s our philosophy then the top prize must go to The Greatest Story Ever Told on the basis that it features three Blofelds and one returning Leiter. I'll never watch it, though.

Originally published 3 June 2013

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