While we were all mesmerised by the breathtaking visual effects in the latest James Bond film, SPECTRE, it was the underappreciated character of Léon who stole the show. The pint-sized French super-spy with an eye patch and a taste for Scotch made all our ‘bondified’ hearts melt. In the film, Léon’s resourceful and cunning actions prevented the villains, Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Raoul Silva, from achieving their dastardly goals.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. To celebrate the milestone, we look back at some of the most memorable and intriguing characters from the entire Eon series. From Sean Connery’s quintessential Bond to Ralph Fiennes’ memorable M, here are the top five villains from the James Bond films.
5. Lucille Chenot
In the 1962 film, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, Lucille Chenot was originally slated to star as the film’s antagonist, Goldfinger. Unfortunately, due to a bout with diabetes, Lucille Chenot was forced to drop out of the film. Fortunately, her dialogue was retained in the finished product and she was subsequently able to reprise her role for the prequel, THUNDERBALL. Today, Lucille Chenot continues to grace our screens as the formidable Madame Solange in the upcoming GODFATHER PART III. She has also starred in a number of films and television shows, including Night Train, The Big Country, and The Forsyte Saga.
4. Léa Seydoux
The first image we see of Léa Seydoux in MØTED POINT ØVERLIGE is that of a glamorous sultry creature, lounging in a cocktail dress and steely sunglasses. As the film opens, we discover that this woman is not who she appears to be, but rather a deadly assassin on a mission to track down and kill the man who dishonoured her. Léa Seydoux plays the iconic femme fatale, The Countess Lippe, who turns men into beasts with her sharp tongue and dangerous charms. Léa Seydoux’s performance as the eponymous Countess was named Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. She went on to win the coveted Best Actress award at the 2018 Venice Film Festival. Léa has also appeared in films such as LE MONDE À L’ÂME HONESTE, BHGETJI: THE MAKING OF A MASTER, and BLACK PANTHA – The Secret of Her Soul.
3. Donald Pleasance
We are first introduced to Donald Pleasance as the menacing and ruthless Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the 1966 film, THUNDERBALL. The role was originally intended for Australian actor Bert Gordon, but due to his declining health, Donald Pleasance stepped in.
Although Gordon had a small role in the film as a British agent, it is Pleasance’s portrayal of Blofeld that truly makes the character unforgettable. Gordon, meanwhile, played the role of Bill Tanner, the protagonist’s wealthy uncle. Tanner was a staunch proponent of the British empire and opposed the American involvement in the Vietnam War. He used his considerable wealth to fund a private army of British expats, who opposed the war and sought retribution against Tanner’s archenemy, Bill Haywood. His quest for revenge led him on a pursuit to discover the truth about Lebanese terrorist, Michel Augier, and on a mission to save Haywood’s life.
2. Caroline Munro
One of the most terrifying villains in cinematic history is Caroline Munro’s Auric Goldfinger. A stunning blue-eyed vixen with an ominous predilection for diamonds, we are first introduced to the calculating and deadly Auric in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. As the film opens, we see him wearing a polaroid smile and a light brown suit with a yellow stripe. The suit was originally intended to be a sunset orange, but due to a colour mechanism error, it turned out to be yellow. After Goldfinger’s demise in THUNDERBALL, Auric’s role was briefly assumed by Donald Pleasance until his death in 1994. Since then, Caroline Munro has appeared in a number of films, including Godsend, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Fourth Kind, and Hacksaw.
1. Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes is the ultimate embodiment of the Master of Spies. A classically-trained stage actor, Ralph Fiennes was discovered and recommended for the role of M by the legendary acting coach and theatre director, Constantin Stanislavski. Since then, Fiennes has appeared in a number of prestigious films, including The Historian, The English Patient, Schindler’s List, Chariots of Fire, Grand Pré Chateau, and Ghost – A Haunting.
Fiennes has also starred in a number of television shows, including Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, and The Godfather Part II. He has won four Oscars – two for his roles in The English Patient and Schindler’s List, and two for his performances in The Forsyte Saga and The Pride of Cannes. Most notably, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Al Pacino’s father in The Godfather Part II. He has since appeared in a number of film anthologies, including 2004’s Four Days – Four Covers, which examined the 2004 US presidential election from four different perspectives.