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No Time To Die’s Rami Malek Explains How He Fell In Love With His Bond Villain

Rami Malek in No Time to Die
(Image credit: Danjaq LLC and MGM)

There are some iconic roles in film that many actors can only dream of getting to play. James Bond is one of those roles, but so is playing a James Bond villain, and while the role of Bond himself is tough to get, the role of the villain is at least more available to more actors. Some of the greats have played Bond foes past and Rami Malek was the latest to join that club in No Time to Die. And it’s a role he truly loved to play. 

Director Guillermo del Toro recently hosted a roundtable discussion on No Time to Die that included Rami Malek, and the actor explained that the reason he particularly loved his villain character of Safin was because he loves the villains that are mysterious and quiet. Safin always looks like he could snap at any moment, but you can’t be sure when it will happen, which makes characters like his scarier. Malek explained in his own words,…

I think there is an aspect of him where because of what he's been through, he has nothing to lose. There is such power in that. He had the ultimate technological and scientific ability in his hands the whole time. He didn't have to be this loud megalomaniac. I loved the idea... I always wanted to keep him as this coiled spring. And he could release himself whenever he wanted to. The way I see villains, I've always fallen in love with the ones that are reserved and you can't really access them and maybe a little bit on the quieter side because you always get this tension of something brewing inside of them and that's how I felt about him this entire time. He had the ultimate power throughout and it was just up to him as to when to use it. And I found that interesting to play. He never had to raise his voice. It was all about having Bond come to him.

James Bond has certainly met with all manner of bad guys. Some have been crazed and violent and others have been quiet and cruel. Safin was certainly one in this latter category, though the actor says he took no particular influence from previous Bond villains. Rami Malek’s right that we never really get to understand him.

If there was any major criticism of Rami Malek’s role in No Time to Die it was exactly this. The fact is that we never really got to know Safin in the same way that we often get to understand other Bond villains. No Time To Die drilled deep into James Bond as a man in a way that most previous films really hadn’t, and as such, even with it’s extended run time, there just wasn’t a lot of space for Safin to become a fully realized villain. Also, his plot was sort of convoluted, but that’s par for the course with James Bond villains.

At the same time, if we had understood him better, perhaps Safin wouldn’t have been quite as menacing a villain. Perhaps leaving him as this external force we don’t understand was the best choice. Safin may not go down as one of the all-time great James Bond villains, but he works very well for the role he needs to play in No Time to Die. In that regard maybe he will be seen as a classic Bond villain after time has been the judge. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.