What’s bigger than playing Bond himself? Playing the Bond Villain. In Daniel Craig’s series of James Bond villains, we’ve encountered heavy-hitters like Mads Mikkelson, Jesper Christensen, Mathieu Amalric, Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista, and Andrew Scott. Now, the list will include Oscar-winner Rami Malek.
In Craig’s last Bond movie, No Time To Die, Malek will be playing the Bond baddie named Safin. Safin is said to be more diabolical than past Bond villains and will be a threat not just to Bond and the people he loves, but the world at large too.
Driven by a hunger for vengeance, Safin could possibly make a run for horror thrillers rather than a spy film. “We really did sit down and think about what would truly frighten us, what would send a real panic into our hearts. It’s that sense of dread that sets it apart,” said Malek.
Whilst Malek remains tight-lipped about Safin’s plans, the 39-year-old actor doesn’t do much to reject rumours that have been running rampant online. “Let the rumours fly,” Malek says in an interview with GQ, “because no matter what you expect from this movie, you will be shocked when you watch the film. I will not add any fuel to that fire.”
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga recounts a scene in the film in which Safin attacks a young girl. Between takes, Malek would ask the actress if she’s alright. “She was fine. But here’s Rami, right in her face with this frightening prosthetic skin, talking sweetly. Then the camera rolls and he’s back to the villain again, pushing her underwater,” said Fukunaga. “It was pure Rami. Gentle and sweet and then surreally twisted at the same time.”
Even Bond himself was in awe of Malek’s performance as Safin.
“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,” said Bond actor Daniel Craig.
Malek’s Safin terrorises characters in No Time To Die with a Japanese Noh mask. The mask gives off different expressions depending on the light and angle at which it’s viewed. Pairing the mask with Malek’s soft eyes, Safin is gloriously creepy whilst still managing to maintain a modicum of his humanity.
Like many other films, No Time To Die has been delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In a recent interview, Bond actor Craig confirmed a new release date of 12 November 2020. With plenty of US cinemas remaining closed and European governments such as Italy, Germany and the UK imposing another set of lockdown periods, this could possibly mean a new release date too, though there’s yet to be news on that.