25 best Bond villains ever: James Bond’s most fierce adversaries
We've pored over 60 years of movies to bring you this list of the best Bond villains ever created
James Bond has now been in the cinema for 60 years. We’ve pored over the James Bond films to bring you this list of the best Bond villains ever.
For a limited time (we’re not sure quite how limited) and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Bond on the silver screen, all 25 Bond movies have landed on Amazon Prime Video including Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre and No Time To Die.
In no particular order, the best (or worst!) James Bond villains ever are:
Rosa Klebb (From Russia With Love, 1963)
Hatchet-faced harridan Rosa Klebb is the mastermind behind a plot to assassinate – and humiliate – James Bond with the help of a decoding machine and duped Russian cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova. She’s chiefly memorable for her lethal choice of footwear, packing a concealed knife in her sensible shoes. It makes for one of the more hilariously awkward fight scenes in the Bond films, as she hops at Sean Connery while he tries to fend her off with a chair.
Xenia Onatopp (GoldenEye, 1995)
Not so much Onatopp as over-the-top, Famke Janssen rose to fame as this beautiful and hilariously-named Georgian killer – who murders her victims by suffocating them between her thighs, reaching orgasm as they die. And they say Bond films are daft…
Dr Kaufman (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)
He’s only in the film for five minutes, but Vincent Schiavelli’s Teutonic hitman steals the show as the briefest of Bond villains. Whether he’s boasting of his talents (“I could shoot you from Stuttgart und still create ze proper effect.”) or expressing his dissatisfaction with his underlings (“I feel like an idiot, I don’t know what to say.”), he’s a model of Germanic efficiency.
Max Zorin (A View to a Kill, 1985)
David Bowie and Sting turned down the role of microchip tycoon Max Zorin, but Christopher Walken stepped in to play the platinum-blond psycho – a product of Nazi eugenics experiments. A yuppie villain for the Thatcher years, Zorin’s scheme involved triggering an earthquake to flood Silicon Valley, giving him a stranglehold on the world microchip market.
Hugo Drax (Moonraker, 1979)
Drax may be your bog-standard villainous megalomaniac, but he wins a place on this list simply for plotting the most grandiose scheme of any of the Bond villains. Not for him the piffling crimes of irradiating Fort Knox or drug smuggling, no – he wants to destroy all life on earth and repopulate it with his army of gym bunnies. From his secret base. In spaaaaaace. Well, no one can accuse him of not thinking big.
Dr Julius No (Dr No, 1962)
The first cinematic Bond villain set the template for those to come, with his Nehru jacket, sadistic predilections and physical deformity (he sports metal hands, a consequence of fiddling around with radioactive material). He also has a taste for the finer things in life – following the theft of Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington, production designer Ken Adam cheekily slipped it into the background in Dr No’s lair.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld (You Only Live Twice, 1967)
Bond’s arch-enemy had appeared on-screen before, in From Russia With Love and Thunderball. But it was only with You Only Live Twice that we got to put a face to the name – and what a face. Austin Powers’ parodic Dr Evil may have robbed his scarred visage of some of its impact, but as soon as he starts talking in that clipped whisper, you realise Blofeld is no joke. And he gets some killer lines courtesy of screenwriter Roald Dahl (yes, that Roald Dahl). “Give him his cigarettes. It won’t be the nicotine that kills you, Mister Bond.”
Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger, 1964)
“No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die!” Gert Forbe’s alarmingly jolly master thief threatens Bond’s crown jewels with a laser in one of the iconic scenes from the series, before embarking on an audacious plan to irradiate Fort Knox. Forbe didn’t speak English, so had to deliver his lines phonetically – he was subsequently dubbed over by another actor. Despite this, the producers considered bringing him back for Diamonds Are Forever – an early treatment featured Goldfinger’s identical twin brother as the villain.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
Blofeld changed radically between films, from Donald Pleasance’s soft-spoken megalomaniac to Telly Savalas’ cultured bruiser. Charles Gray – who appeared in You Only Live Twice as a British agent – took Blofeld into high camp. The arch-villain seems to be having an absolute whale of a time being evil – whether he’s posing as a Howard Hughes-type recluse or dragging up to kidnap Bond girl Tiffany Case.
Francisco Scaramanga (The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974)
Christopher Lee was Ian Fleming’s first choice to play Dr No – they were step-cousins and worked together during the Second World War. This made Lee uniquely qualified for a role in the series, but he didn’t get a look in until Roger Moore donned 007’s tuxedo.
In truth, The Man With The Golden Gun is one of the weaker entries in the series, though Lee is his usual chilling self as the triple-nippled assassin Scaramanga. It’s a pity we didn’t get to see him make use of his talents in a better film, though.
Necros (The Living Daylights, 1987)
Necros is one of those Bond villains who’s more memorable than his employer. This ice-cold killer displays an inexplicable love for The Pretenders – who knew that Chrissie Hynde is the perfect accompaniment to slaughtering MI5 agents with exploding milk bottles in rural Oxfordshire?
Dancer Andreas Wisniewski brings a fluid grace to the role, but he’s brutal when he needs to be – Necros gets some of the best fight scenes in the Bond series, including a vicious set-to with a luckless British agent in a kitchen, and his breathtaking battle with Timothy Dalton’s Bond while dangling out of the back of an aeroplane.
Franz Sanchez (License To Kill, 1989)
Sanchez’s drug-running schemes might be less showy than those of other Bond villains, but it’s his brutality that brings him onto 007’s radar – he maims longtime Bond associate Felix Leiter and murders Mrs Leiter after escaping police custody. 007’s revenge mission sees him disobeying orders and going rogue, and Sanchez is dealt with in an appropriately callous manner – Bond drenches him in petrol and sets him on fire.
Alec Trevelyan/006 (GoldenEye, 1995)
Sean Bean auditioned for the role of James Bond, but lost out to Pierce Brosnan. Still, he got a hell of a consolation prize – the role of rogue agent 006 who is clearly one of the best Bond villains ever. As a former “blunt instrument” of British Intelligence himself, he’s the perfect foil for Bond in a film that’s all about questioning 007’s relevance in a post-Cold War world. When he ponders whether “all the vodka martinis ever silence the screams of all the men you’ve killed,” you get the feeling he knows that it would only take the tiniest push to send Bond to the dark side himself.
Elliot Carver (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)
This villainous media mogul’s schemes go beyond listening in on celebrity voicemails. Instead, he plans to foment a war between China and Britain just so that he can snap up a better deal for Chinese broadcasting rights. Hasn’t anyone told him that streaming video is the future? Fun fact: actor Jonathan Pryce kept hold of his costume and re-used it to play Doctor Who villain The Master in a charity skit.
Elektra King (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
While there have been plenty of bad girls in the Bond films, Sophie Marceau earned the distinction of playing the first female lead villain in the series. Together with her henchman Renard – played by Robert Carlyle – ambitious oil heiress Elektra plots to blow up a Russian pipeline to increase the value of her holdings. With a nuclear bomb. In the middle of Istanbul. Talk about using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Le Chiffre (Casino Royale, 1967)
The first Casino Royale movie was a bizarre satirical send-up of the preceding Bond films, and features an eclectic cast including David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen and Ursula Andress. None other than Orson Welles appears as Le Chiffre too, financial agent for international terrorist organisation SMERSH and baccarat genius. Welles took the role on the condition that he could show off his stage magic skills. The film is a certified mess, but watching Welles work is, as ever, spellbinding.
Mr Wint and Mr Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
Bond’s nemesis Ernst Blofeld hires these sadistic assassins to eliminate every link in a diamond smuggling operation, stealing the diamonds which SPECTRE can then use to build a laser-toting satellite.
The odd couple share a sense of dark humour and habitually finish off each other’s sentences. Wint was played by Bruce Glover – father of Back to the Future’s Crispin Glover – while Kidd was played by jazz bassist Putter Smith, who initially thought he was being hired to work on the soundtrack.
Oddjob (Goldfinger, 1964)
Quite possibly the most memorable henchman in movie history, the hulking, taciturn Oddjob is Goldfinger’s chauffeur, golf caddy and enforcer – a metal-brimmed bowler hat his weapon of choice. But when it comes to Bond villains, don’t pick him in multiplayer GoldenEye or all your mates will hate you.
Baron Samedi (Live And Let Die, 1973)
Based on the Haitian voodoo master of the underworld, Baron Samedi sits pretty comfortably within Live And Let Die’s vaguely blaxploitation motif. One of three main henchmen to the movie’s villain Kananga, Samedi attempts to sacrifice Jane Seymour in a voodoo ritual, only to be trapped – and apparently killed – in a coffin filled with snakes. However, his supernatural nature is hinted at when he reappears at the very end of the movie, laughing while perched on the front of a train.
Nick Nack (The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974)
Herve Villchaize proved memorable in his role as Scaramanga’s miniature manservant, despite his short stature being played for laughs in this rather campy Bond instalment. Nick Nack acts as a thief and trickster, before attempting to kill Bond during the film’s conclusion – only to be shut in a suitcase by 007.
Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977 and Moonraker, 1979)
One of the few bad guys to span more than one James Bond film, Jaws is a ruthless killer in The Spy Who Loved Me – a mute giant with deadly steel teeth. Appearing again as a henchman in Moonraker, Jaws eventually sees the error of his ways and turns against his master Hugo Drax, helping Bond defeat his evil plot.
May Day (A View To A Kill, 1985)
Seemingly having wandered onto the set from an ’80s fashion show, Grace Jones appeared as another villain-turned-ally in A View To A Kill, playing an assassin with apparently superhuman strength and a natty line in haute couture. After being betrayed by her boss Max Zorin, May Day sacrifices herself to save Bond to prevent Zorin’s underground bomb from triggering an earthquake.
Le Chiffre (Casino Royale, 2006)
Daniel Craig’s first outing as 007 is an altogether more serious affair than the 1967 Casino Royale, displaying levels of brutality never before seen in a Bond film – notably when Le Chiffre sets about 007’s nether regions with a knotted rope. Danish thesp Mads Mikkelsen provides a suitably menacing turn as Le Chiffre – here reinvented as a terrorist financier whom Bond must bankrupt in a game of high stakes poker at the titular gambling house.
Fatima Blush (Never Say Never Again, 1983)
Barbara Carrera netted a Golden Globe nomination for her role as SPECTRE agent Fatima Blush in this “unofficial” entry to the Bond series. Blush is the first of the evil Bond girls to be killed by Bond face-to-face – in this case, blown to smithereens by Q Branch’s experimental rocket pen, leaving little more than a pair of smoking stiletto heels.