For Blofeld, They Just Grabbed An Actor Who'd Already Been In A Bond Film
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Every few years, the producers of James Bond have to figure out who they'll cast as the new 007. But with every single movie, they're faced with an even more interesting task: figuring out who they'll cast as the new Bond villain.
They need someone with presence and someone with menace. Preferably, someone capable of a strange accent. For the most recent movie, they went with Rami Malek, who seemed like s good choice, and he was a high-profile name thanks to a recent Oscar win. Perhaps they didn't bother writing for him a character that made any sense, but that's not important.
For a stretch at the tail end of the Connery era, casting the villain should have been easy. For three consecutive films, the villain was Ernst Blofeld. But with each movie, they got a new man to play the part.
First, before this streak, we saw Blofeld played by Anthony Dawson in two films. Dawson had already played a character named Professor Dent in the very first Bond film, and that was fine because these two movies hid Blofeld's face. Then, for his first real appearance in You Only Live Twice, they cast Donald Pleasence. They replaced him with Telly Savalas in the next movie, and that seemed appropriate because this movie also had a new Bond, George Lazenby.
But it was Diamonds Are Forever that really got weird. Sean Connery was back as Bond, but for Blofeld, they didn't go with Pleasence or Savalas. They picked someone else, Charles Gray (Blofeld is a master of plastic surgery). The weird part? Charles Gray had also appeared in You Only Live Twice, the previous movie with Connery and Blofeld just four years earlier, as a different character, Bond ally Dikko Henderson. That had not been an obscure role. Go to the man's Wikipedia page today, and for the main picture, they don't have him out-of-character as they do with most actors or as the iconic Blofeld. They have him as Dikko Henderson.
It must have been disorienting for some viewers. Still, it’s not as weird as, say, bringing back a Bond villain in a later film as a new character. Which they also did, bringing back Joe Don Baker from The Living Daylights as recurring Bond ally Jack Wade in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies.
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Top image: MGM