Screen villains cherish their bond with 007
Chicago Sun Times
Screen villains cherish their bond with 007
December 15, 2006
BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO Weekend Editor
Sure, James Bond gets all the cool gadgets, sexy cars and the gorgeous girls.
But as any true fan of the Bond films will tell you, the villains are every bit
as important to the final product as 007 himself.
"Bond girls" and "Bond villains" are an elite bunch, indeed. When it comes to
villains, even if you can't recall the actors' names, their screen personas are
part of American pop culture: Ernst Blofeld (played by three different actors,
Anthony Dawson, Telly Savalas and Charles Gray), "Oddjob" (Harold Sakata),
Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), "Dr. No" (Joseph Wiseman) and "Jaws" (Richard
With the release of all of the Bond films (except for the latest, "Casino Royale")
on DVD (MGM Home Entertainment), two of the actors who portrayed Bond
villains -- Sean Bean (Alec Trevelyan/ Agent 006 in 1995's "GoldenEye") and
Yaphet Kotto (Mr. Big/Dr. Kananga in 1973's "Live and Let Die") -- talked
to the Sun-Times about their coveted roles.
Both Kotto and Bean are trained actors. Kotto was a member of the Actors
Studio in New York, while Bean is a graduate of the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Art in London. Bean has played both the bad guy and the guy
who breaks your heart in films such as "The Lord of the Rings," "Troy,"
"National Treasure," "North Country" and "Patriot Games." Bean's next
project is the role of the psychopathic killer John Ryder in the remake of
Kotto has amassed an impressive body of work with films such as "Midnight
Run," and "The Star Chamber," as well as the television miniseries "Roots."
He most recently starred on television in the groundbreaking series
"Homicide: Life on the Street."
Q. How much fun is it to play a Bond villain?
Sean Bean: I love it. It's more fun to play the bad guy. 006 was such an
interesting character and the film really explored his friendship with Bond
and how it all went wrong, so it was a very personal journey for both
characters. And to quell the rumors, I never auditioned for the role of Bond.
Yaphet Kotto: It's very cool to be known as one of the villains. It's great being
a part of history in that sense. But they never really promoted my character
when the film came out. They had never seen a black man chasing a white
man across the screen like that, so it was a very odd situation.
Q. What were your respective James Bonds like?
SB: Pierce [Brosnan] was a good Bond. I think every actor who plays Bond
brings his own qualities to the role. Daniel Craig, for example, is more violent
and darker, but I always thought he'd be good. But my favorite Bond is still
Sean Connery. He was a man's man. He wasn't a sissy.
YK: I didn't know much about Roger [Moore], so I really didn't have feelings
about him one way or the other. He was doing his thing and I was doing
Q. What's the coolest thing about playing a villain?
SB: A bad guy has to have unpredictability. You have to be able to make
the audience sympathize with your character without being cheesy. I like
playing intelligent bad guys. They have to have an agenda. Plus, I do
think there's something sexy about them. They're driven, passionate,
edgy. It's quite seductive for a character to achieve all that.
YK: The coolest thing for me was being a black American brother in England.
I was making all kinds of mistakes when I'd be out on the town because I
really didn't know the customs and such. So I met this wealthy English
woman who befriended me and told me to stay in London for a while when
the filming was done to get some polish. Here I was, this brother out of
New York City living in this apartment in Kensington. (Laughs) Can you
imagine how that was? But I came to love London. I still do. I went back
there to do "Alien" and some theater work. I love being there.
Q. Were you insulted that your villain, Kananga, was a drug dealer?
YK: It didn't bother me because that's what Ian Fleming wrote. If somebody
had just made that up, you know, like, hey, we need a black drug dealer,
then I would have been really bothered. The role was the role that was
created by Mr. Fleming. Not gonna argue with that. What bothered me was
the movie's character of the [stereotypical Southern] sheriff [J.W. Pepper,
played by Clifton James]. That character bothered me.
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