Rumours are hotting up that Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz - recently confirmed to be joining the cast of the upcoming 24th James Bond film - may be taking the iconic role of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Almost as soon as reports broke of the ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and ‘Django Unchained’ star’s casting alongside Daniel Craig in director Sam Mendes’ ‘Skyfall’ follow-up, there were immediate murmurs that he would be a perfect fit for the most celebrated Bond baddie of them all.
Now, the Daily Mail have cited unnamed sources who claim that Waltz has indeed signed on for this role - but we perhaps shouldn’t expect this to be made official right away.
The Daily Mail report that an upcoming press conference will make Waltz’s casting in Bond 24 official - but will announce the actor being cast as “an unknown character called Franz Oberhauser, son of the late Hans Oberhauser, a ski instructor who acted as a father figure to Bond.”
However, we’re told this will be a ‘double-bluff’ concealing that Waltz will in fact portray the iconic head of SPECTRE.
The Daily Mail’s unnamed source claims, “Christoph Waltz is playing Blofeld in the next Bond film. The tone of the 007 films has changed significantly in recent years and the producers have changed the character to fit in with the new-look 007.”
Blofeld was Bond’s nemesis in the Sean Connery/George Lazenby years. An unseen figure in the early films, he was portrayed by Donald Pleasance in ‘You Only Live Twice,’ Telly Savalas in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,’ and Charles Gray in ‘Diamonds are Forever.’
However, beyond a brief, implied appearance in 1981’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (in which his face is not shown, nor is his name mentioned), Blofeld has not appeared in the EON Bond series since. This was primarily due to the rights to the character being partly held by the late producer Kevin McClory, owing to the complex legal issues surrounding the fifth Bond movie, ‘Thunderball.’
Ian Fleming’s novel ‘Thunderball’ novel was in fact based on an original Bond screenplay he had worked on with McClory and screenwriter Jack Whittingham before the Eon Productions film series got started - yet Fleming neglected to give McClory or Whittingham any credit for their part in conceiving the story.
Subsequently, McClory sued Fleming, and was granted part ownership of ‘Thunderball,’ credited as a producer on the film, and was later able to remake the film as 1983’s ‘Never Say Never Again’ with Sean Connery. This unofficial Bond movie featured the last appearance of Blofeld as played by Max Von Sydow - though in the years since, Mike Myers famously parodied the character with Dr Evil in the ‘Austin Powers’ movies.
This troubled chapter in the history of the Bond franchise came to a close in November 2013, when McClory’s estate sold back all rights to ‘Thunderball’ to MGM - thereby opening the door for Blofeld’s return.
There has been a sense that the Bond series has been trying to get back to its roots of late, particularly given that ‘Skyfall’ brought back Miss Moneypenny, Q and a male M; and we might add that neither Naomie Harris nor Ralph Fiennes were officially announced in their iconic roles prior to the film’s release.
As such, it isn’t hard to see Blofeld coming back - and it certainly isn’t hard to envisage Waltz in the role. Still, to date Eon Productions have declined to comment on the matter.
We’ll keep our ears to the ground for any official word either way - but in the meantime, please, no “I’ve been expecting you” jokes…