No Time To Die's Dr. No Fan Theory Is Finally Addressed By Its James Bond Director

Some fan theories are so popular that not even the truth will stand in their way. So while No Time To Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga has finally addressed that long-standing rumor that Rami Malek’s Safin is secretly Dr. No, don’t expect that to turn fans off of that potential trail. Though, for the record, Fukunaga’s reason why that classic Bond villain hasn’t returned sounds pretty legit.

In an interview with SFX Magazine, Cary Fukunaga supposedly cleared the air about Safin and the persistent need to connect him to that first classic James Bond villain. What’s more, No Time To Die’s villain was apparently so difficult to create that Fukunaga, along with Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, all got a little frustrated during the process. As you can see from the filmmaker's below comment, creating a new villain in a world like the James Bond franchise has some very unique ups and downs:

Making a villain that doesn’t seem laughable, that you can take seriously, where it’s still frightening what they’re attempting to do and why they must be stopped, is more difficult than people actually acknowledge. I remember us sitting around early in the development stage. Barbara and Michael have been doing this for decades and even Barbara admitted, 'This is really hard!' ... This is a new villain. He’s not, as some have speculated, Dr. No. Hopefully he’ll be one that is lasting in some way.

While Rami Malek has enjoyed the ambiguity that surrounds his No Time To Die villain, he’s definitely fed into the sort of baddie Cary Joji Fukunaga is hoping to land. Given the opportunity to help craft his antagonist, even before accepting the role, Malek feels as close to Safin as Fukunaga is. And thanks to their efforts, the Academy Award-winning actor claims that his No Time To Die character is certainly, “a nasty piece of work.”

But again, that sort of villain isn’t easy to create, even in the world of 007. Just look at Spectre’s reintroduction of Blofeld, which, quite frankly, rubbed some fans the wrong way. More specifically, the twist where James Bond and his classic arch-nemesis are revealed to be adopted brothers had some series loyalists crying foul, as that same twist was deployed in Austin Powers in Goldmember. Which, strangely enough, seems to be a touchstone that Cary Joji Fukunaga kept in mind when crafting Safin for No Time To Die:

It’s so hard to term him as a villain in this world anymore. We live in a very educated, saturated world of converse narratives. Anyone can be vilified or turned into a hero. It’s more and more difficult to create villains because it’s gotten to the point where they become parody, especially once Austin Powers came out in the ’90s.

There’s an established pedigree of James Bond villains, and films like The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard have absolutely played to the sillier side of that formula. But as Daniel Craig’s serious era of rebooted continuity comes to a close in No Time To Die, times call for a menace that’s more complicated, while remaining severely deadly. But even with all of the talk of serious Bond villains, could Safin be another Franz Oberhauser situation? This fall will see the truth about Rami Malek’s Safin revealed to the public at large when No Time To Die heads to theaters on October 8.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.