Since No Time to Die will be Daniel Craig's final James Bond film, it only makes sense for the swan song to go big or go home. That philosophy will purportedly apply to the movie's villain, a scar-faced and revenge-fueled antagonist named Safin, played by Oscar-winner Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody). A former assasin for SPECTRE, the character is concocting a diabolical plot that will kill millions of people if it comes to fruition. Recently speaking with GQ, the project's director and co-writer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, promised that Safin will blow Ernst Stavro Blofeld out of the water.
"Once we got into Christoph Waltz/Blofeld territory, you can’t go small again,” the filmmaker said. “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.”
That's a pretty bold statement to make, especially when you consider that Blofeld — who has popped up numerous times over the decades — is already the Thanos-like big bad of the 007 franchise. Come on, he inspired Austin Powers' Dr. Evil for Pete's sake!
As revealed in Spectre, he (Blofeld, not Dr. Evil) was behind all the threats the current Bond has faced since Casino Royale. Waltz will return to play Blofeld for No Time to Die, but based on the trailers released so far, it seems like he'll be serving a more Hannibal Lecter-esque role from prison, providing James with crucial information about Safin. But can Malek really take the crown for most ruthless, cunning, and iconic Bond villain? Well, GQ writes that Safin and his methods would feel "more at home in horror thrillers than a spy film," hinting that he'll stick with us long after the credits roll.
"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," Malek said, echoing similar comments he made in late October.
No Time to Die will underscore the danger of Safin by immediately introducing him to us in the movie's extended pre-credits sequence, which involves the baddie chasing victims across a frozen lake. This may or may not be the same sequence referred to by Fukunaga in the GQ interview, where he talks about Safin chasing down a young girl before shoving her underwater. Due to his menacing aura and go-for-broke performance, Malek took the time between takes to make sure his co-star was alright. Since, you know, he was probably freaking her out a little bit.
"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," recalled the director. "It was pure Rami. Gentle and sweet and then surreally twisted at the same time."
No Time to Die is scheduled to hit theaters on April 2, 2021 — about a year after its intended release date.