Casting Dave Bautista as Ernst Stavro Blofeld could have led to a far more dynamic version of the character facing Daniel Craig’s James Bond.
One casting change could have led to a far more dynamic version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld for Daniel Craig’s James Bond era. Christoph Waltz took on the role of James Bond’s arch-nemesis in Craig’s last two films, SPECTRE and No Time To Die, following in the footsteps of Blofeld actors like Donald Pleasance, Telly Savalas, and Charles Gray. Waltz was made up to resemble his screen predecessors, even down to Pleasance’s iconic scar and his fluffy cat, with the only twist on the classic formula being the contrived and heavily criticized moment Blofeld was revealed as James Bond’s adoptive brother.
In paying tribute to previous screen Blofelds, too, it veered away from his physical appearance in Ian Fleming’s books. Though Blofeld went through a number of disguises through the three books he appeared in, he always retained one thing – a large, imposing physique. In his first appearance in Thunderball, his body mass was described as “about twenty stone,” (280 lbs.) having been an amateur weightlifter in his youth, with muscle that had softened under his “vast belly that he concealed behind roomy trousers.” Though he lost weight in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in his last appearance in James Bond novel You Only Live Twice, he was described as being a “dominant, horrific figure,” about “six foot three, and powerfully built.” Waltz’s Blofeld retained the sharp intellect of Fleming’s character, but lacked the sheer physical size that also made him such a threat to Bond.
However, there was another actor playing a villain in SPECTRE who had the potential to pull off both sides of Blofeld: 6’6″ former wrestler Dave Bautista, who played the silent henchman, Hinx. If he had been given the role of Blofeld instead, Bautista would have had the opportunity to flex the subtler acting chops he showed off in films like Blade Runner: 2049, and fully reinvent the character with a hulking sense of threat. Indeed, when Bautista spoke about wanting to play Bane in a Batman film, his approach sounded suited to Blofeld, explaining he would bulk up but be “the type of character that’s so menacing and so terrifying and so intelligent, he would hardly ever raise his voice,” (via Collider). Having Blofeld in this form would have shocked audiences who had become used to the countless parodies seen in films like Austin Powers, but retained his imposing essence.
It would have also given Daniel Craig’s Bond film the opportunity to accomplish the surprise reveal it was going for. Throughout publicity for SPECTRE, Christoph Waltz had repeatedly denied being Blofeld, saying he was playing Franz Oberhauser, a name SPECTRE revealed Blofield had adopted after murdering his father. However, speculation still ran rampant that he was Blofeld, with the character sporting too many similarities to deny. By casting Bautista or someone against type from previous screen incarnations of Blofeld, producers could have laid red herrings more carefully without having to resort to a convoluted story about name changes.
Instead of relying on the plot of a long-lost foster brother to make it personal, Bautista’s casting could have done so by creating a threat unparalleled in Craig’s time in the role – someone who could crush James Bond in a fight, and mentally outwit him, too. It would differentiate him from other Daniel Craig-era villains like Mr. White, Dominic Greene, and Le Chiffre, who were more intellectual challenges to Bond than physical ones. Importantly, there wouldn’t need to be a family connection contrived to make the threat of Blofeld more meaningful, as the fact the two titans of the secret service and the criminal underworld respectively had come head-to-head would have been dramatic enough.
The Daniel Craig era had already stripped Bond down to his basics, exposing the brutality underneath his slick surface and redefining the character in the process. If it had taken the risk and done the same for Ernst Stavro Blofeld, it could have created a similarly definitive version of a classic character. Though Bautista will likely never appear in another James Bond movie, there’s always the hope that he will one day indeed play Bane as he desires.
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