The Importance of Being Ernst: Who’ll Be the New Blofeld?

What actor could play the role of Ernst Stavro Blofeld

The character that inspired Dr. Evil, the villain in the Austin Powers films, is back, and James Bond has got him.

After decades of legal entanglements, Team Bond has won the rights to use Ernst Stavro Blofeld in one of its films. The bald super-bad dude was a co-creation of 007auteur Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory, and since McClory laid claim to the character, protracted legal mishegas has ensued. 

On screen, Blofeld has been played as a hissable, cat-stroking, SPECTRE-affiliated creep by Eric Portman’s voice in From Russia with Love; by Anthony Dawson (with Portman’s voice) in Thunderball; Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice; Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; Charles Gray in Diamonds are Forever; and John Hollis (voiced by Robert Rietty) in a pre-credit sequence in For Your Eyes Only. The great Max von Sydow limned the role as the European criminal mastermind in the unofficial Bond adventure Never Say Never Again.

Although it hasn’t been decided if Blofeld will be cast as Bond’s rival in the next Sam Mendes-helmed 00-outing, speculation has already begun on who should play the Polish-Greek creep with world domination on his noggin.

Here are some suggestions we’ve devised with hopes one of them gets a chance to play the devious dude. And we’d love to know who you would want to see in the part, too.

Bryan Cranston: We know he can do bald and we know he can do Bad. In fact, we’re not sure what the 57-year-old actor can’t do.  The only problem could be an accent, but we don’t doubt this veteran whose been at acting since the late 1960s would have a problem—he’s done voice work for such series as Clerks, Archer and The Cleveland Show in the past. Walter White, meet Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Bruce Willis: We can’t think of many roles in which Willis was the bad guy. He’s usually ready, willing and able to kick ass and ask questions later—whether it be in a big-budget Die Hard franchiser or a direct-to-DVD actioner like Catch .44 or That Cold Light of Day. He’s gone on record to say he’s sort of tired of action films these days…even though there’s another go-round as John McClane in the not-so-distant future. We know Bruce is usually bald and don’t doubt the European elucidation will be a problem. He could also bring a sense of humor to the bad guy part, someone who truly enjoys being destructive. It worked with Javier Bardem in Skyfall, didn’t it? But will Willis really want to go there in his career?

Mike Myers: Hey, we know he can play the part, and he seems to be in search of…well, something. There was the quick cameo in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and The Guru, one of the biggest star vehicle flops in recent years. Perhaps Blofeld is too close to Dr. Evil for audiences to accept Myers playing it straighter than usual? Oh, behave!

Udo Kier: This Blofeld would be older than the others, but may be just what the Bond makers ordered. No stranger to portraying Euro-trash or Euro-sleaze, the German actor has played Dr. Frankenstein (in Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein) Dracula (in Andy Warhol’s Dracula), Dr. Jekyll (in Blood of Dr. Jekyll), the kinky male lead in The Story of O and many Nazis. In other words:  Blofeld should be a natural. Plus, we caught him bald and with a goatee as the psychic “Yuri” in the computer game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2. Perfect.    

Paul Bettany:  The British actor comes with steely good looks and light hair and reminds us a bit of Robert Shaw in From Russia with Love.  Married to actress Jennifer Connelly, this 42-year-old veteran of British TV appeared to be headed for leading movie roles, but has tackled more character types recently in such films as Margin Call, Blood, Priest and Legion.  He has edginess to him and can be quietly forceful, as evidenced in such films as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Margin Call.  If he took it, expect a more cool and calculating Blofeld, as opposed to the bombastic Telly Savalas sort. 

Mark Strong: He’s British, he’s bald and he certainly has enough experience playing mean—perhaps too much at this point. The 50-year-old thespian fought the titular heroes of Green Lantern, Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood,  John Carter and other films, so why not Bond? Another plus: He’s good friends with Daniel Craig, the current 007.

Djimon Hounsou: This strapping former model from West Africa is certainly imposing enough to tackle Daniel Craig, especially if the creators want get more physical than past Blofeld-Bond altercations. His physical prowess has impressed us in Gladiator and The Island, while he’s perfectly fine in the quietly powerful manner of
In America and Blood Diamond.  If Idris Elba can be considered for the first black Bond, why not Hounsou as the black Blofeld?   

Bruno Ganz: The versatile Swiss performer turned in a ferocious performance as Adolf Hitler at the end of his rope in Downfall (2004), charmed audiences as the angel Daniel in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987) and its 1993 sequel Faraway, So Close, and made strong impressions in Wenders’ The American Friend (1977), The Reader (2008), and as Jonathan Harker in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampire (1995).  He’s also been cast as a fictional Pope in an upcoming miniseries called “The Vatican.”

Werner Herzog: Speaking of Herzog, why not the German director as Blofeld? The iconoclastic 71-year-old filmmaker has appeared in his and other films, loves to be in front of the camera and could bring a sense of sharpness but mystery to the part. His intensity, accent and choppy speech pattern could make for fascinating fiend fodder as well.   

John Malkovich: Malkovich!? He’s got the shiny pate and the sinister side (i.e. In the Line of Fire) already going for him, and he exudes smartness. So why not John Malkovich? We don’t doubt this crafty actor can add the accent. He was always ripe to play a classic Batman villain like the Riddler, so 007’s arch-nemesis isn’t too far a stretch for this actor with a gift of keeping folks on edge.  

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