Best Bond villain actors

The best Bond movies are carried, not by gadgets, not by fights and chases, but by excellent actors. A good Bond villain should be a character, not a nobody. He/she should have presence, should be truly memorable. I have listed the best ones I can think of, somewhat in order.

There is only one Bond movie that I can't take into account, "Casino Royale" (1966 version) of which I have only seen parts (couldn't stand it). I havn't found any really good villains in the later movies, which I think is why I don't like them. I don't think Craig is the problem, I think they need some great villain actors - and give them enough space to let us appreciate them.
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1.
Anthony Dawson
Actor, Dr. No
Long-faced, emaciated-looking character actor with a thin mustache and an impeccable English accent, Anthony Dawson was typecast in a variety of villainous roles in the 1950s and 1960s. He was born Anthony Douglas Gillon Dawson in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Ida Violet (Kittel) and Eric Francis Dawson...
“ Superb villain actor whose job on "Professor Dent" is far from his best but still the best actor in "Doctor No". Did you know that he also was Blofeldt in "From Russia with love"? ” - ingemar-4
 
2.
Bruce Glover
Actor, Chinatown
An instinct for acting showed very early for Bruce in 1935,he didn't know it was acting when at 3 he distracted his Mom from the worries of Depression Era Chicago by recreating stuff they'd seen at the movies like FDR struggling to walk, putting his little body thru it, to try to understand by experiencing it...
“ Did a fabulous Wint, showing how much you can tell by moving an eyebrow and by picking the right voice. ” - ingemar-4
 
3.
Vincent Schiavelli
Vincent Schiavelli, selected in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of the best character actors in America, had made over 120 film and television appearances. He studied acting at NYU's Theatre Program. Aside from his acting career, Vincent was the author of three cookbooks, and has written numerous articles on food for magazines and newspapers. In 2001, he received the James Beard Journalism Award.
“ By far the best actor in "Tomorrow never dies", despite the brief appearance. ” - ingemar-4
 
4.
Peter Lorre
Actor, Casablanca
Peter was born in Rózsahegy, Hungary, to Alois and Elvira Löwenstein. He was educated in elementary and secondary schools in Vienna, Austria. He ran away from home when he was 17 and joined an improvised theater. In 1922, he worked as a bank clerk. Did bits with a company in Breslau, then secured a part in Galsworthy's "Society" in Zurich...
“ The first "Casino Royale" was pretty simple, but Peter Lorre did the best Le Chiffre ever (and also the first filmed Bond villain ever). ” - ingemar-4
 
5.
Gert Fröbe
Actor, Goldfinger
Tall, portly built German born actor (and talented violinist) who notched up over 100 film appearances, predominantly in German-language productions. He will forever be remembered by Western audiences as the bombastic megalomaniac "Auric Goldfinger" trying to kill Sean Connery and irradiate the vast US gold reserves within Fort Knox in the spectacular "James Bond" film Goldfinger...
“ How he could make such a good Goldfinger without even understanding his lines is beyond me, but the fact remains, he is very enjoyable. ” - ingemar-4
 
6.
Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya was a Tony Award-winning and Academy award-nominated actress and singer who is best remembered for her supporting role as Rosa Klebb in the classic Bond film From Russia with Love. She was born Karoline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blaumauer on October 18, 1898, in Vienna, Austria (at that time Austro-Hungarian Empire)...
“ Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb is just perfect. ” - ingemar-4
 
7.
Harold Sakata
Actor, Goldfinger
The most famous henchman of the entire James Bond series of spy thrillers, Harold Sakata will forever be remembered as the villainous "Odd Job" in the ultimate Bond film, Goldfinger, with his lethal martial arts and steel-brimmed bowler hat. He was born Toshiyuki Sakata in Hawaii, of Japanese descent...
“ An actor who is right just by looking right. His Oddjob is an icon. ” - ingemar-4
 
8.
Telly Savalas
Actor, Kojak
Son of Greek immigrants. Soldier during World War II. Studied psychology. Worked as journalist for ABC News. The bald-headed actor played character roles, often as sadistic or psychotic types. He became a TV favorite in the 1970s when his role as Det. Theo Kojak in the TV movie The Marcus-Nelson Murders was expanded into the gritty Kojak TV series, lasting from 1973-78.
“ Did a very good and often overlooked Blofeld. ” - ingemar-4
 
9.
Donald Pleasence
Actor, Halloween
Balding, quietly-spoken, of slight build and possessed of piercing blue eyes -- often peering out from behind round, steel-rimmed glasses -- Donald Pleasence had the necessary physical attributes which make a great screen villain. In the course of his lengthy career, he relished playing the obsessed...
“ The first time we could see Blofeld's face he was given quite a face, the one of Donald Pleasence. A good choice. ” - ingemar-4
 
10.
“ I can't say any positive things about the casting in Goldeneye, except for John Gottfried. ” - ingemar-4
 
11.
Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow was born Carl Adolf von Sydow on April 10, 1929 in Lund, Skåne, Sweden, to a middle-class family. He is the son of Baroness Maria Margareta (Rappe), a teacher, and Carl Wilhelm von Sydow, an ethnologist and folklore professor. His surname traces back to his father's partial German ancestry...
“ His talent for villains is obvious as Blofeld in "Never say never again". ” - ingemar-4
 
12.
Geoffrey Holder
Dancer, choreographer and actor Geoffrey Holder was born on August 1, 1930, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, into a middle-class family. One of four children, he was taught painting and dancing by his older brother Boscoe Holder, whose dance troupe, the Holder Dance Company, the young Geoffrey joined when he was seven years old...
“ I can't really say whether Geoffrey Holder acts well in "Live and let die", but his twisted acting makes him spooky, which is why it works so well. ” - ingemar-4
 
13.
Christopher Lee
Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga. Although most notable for personifying bloodsucking vampire, Dracula, on screen, he portrayed other varied characters on screen, most of which were villains, whether it be Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film...
“ The man with the golden gun is one of the most famous villain actors, and of course he did a good job as Bond villain. ” - ingemar-4
 
14.
Hervé Villechaize
Hervé Villechaize was born in Paris on April 23, 1943. He stopped growing very early and his father (who was a surgeon) tried to find a cure by visiting several doctors and hospitals. But there was none, so Hervé had to live with his small height and also with undersized lungs. He studied at the Beaux-Arts in Paris and made an exhibition of his own paintings...
“ Smallest Bond villain ever, and quite a character. ” - ingemar-4
 
15.
Richard Kiel
Actor, Tangled
Towering 7' 2" tall actor who has cornered the market on playing giants, intimidating henchman, bayou swamp monsters and steel toothed villains! Kiel worked in numerous jobs including as a night club bouncer and a cemetery plot salesman, before breaking into film & TV in several minor roles in the late 1950s / early 1960s...
“ Stupid comic character or scary monster character? In "Moonraker" he was mostly the former, but the "The spy who loved me" he was a superb monster villain. ” - ingemar-4
 
16.
Vladek Sheybal
Looking back at his filmography, it isn't difficult to imagine Vladek Sheybal in a scene, lobbing Molotov cocktails at advancing German troops, against a backdrop of war-torn Warsaw. However, this part of his life played out for real. A member of the Polish underground, he was twice captured and interred in concentration camps...
“ The self-confident Kronsteen is yet another strong performance in "From Russia with love". ” - ingemar-4
 
17.
“ Good female villain, Blofeld's second in command in "In her Majesty's Secret Service". ” - ingemar-4
 
18.
Julian Glover
Actor, Troy
Julian Glover is an English actor whose film roles have included a wide range of characters, including General Maximilian Veers in The Empire Strikes Back, the James Bond villain Aristotle Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only, Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Brian Harcourt-Smith in The Fourth Protocol...
“ Julian Glover did a handsome villain in "For your eyes only". ” - ingemar-4
 
19.
Michael Gothard
Michael Gothard was born in London on June 24, 1939. He left school at 17 with little idea of what he wanted to do. He traveled around Europe, washing dishes in restaurants, as a house cleaner and building laborer. He spent a year in Paris, living in the Latin Quarter. He dabbled in modeling, but never felt comfortable doing so...
“ My favourite villain in "For your eyes only", for some reason I can't really understand. No special look and not much acting, but still... something is right. Acting is subtle and that can be why. Maybe he is just well-cast in his "supporting villain" role. ” - ingemar-4
 
20.
Joe Don Baker
Actor, GoldenEye
Tall, broad shouldered character actor with Texan drawl first appeared in support in several Western vehicles both on TV and the cinema in the mid 1960s. Got himself noticed playing Steve McQueen's younger brother in Junior Bonner, and then scored the lead role of Buford Pusser (!) in the unexpected hit Walking Tall...
“ Joe Don Baker stands out as the best villain actor by far in "The living daylights", as Brad Whittaker. ” - ingemar-4
 
21.
Jonathan Pryce
From Holywell to Hollywood Jonathan Pryce, CBE is a critically acclaimed and award winning actor from North Wales. Renowned for his immense versatility and powerful presence he has transcended the industry, effortlessly moving between Hollywood studio films and the classical West End to bold independent cinema and the broadway musical...
“ Jonathan Pryce as Elliot Carver stands out as the last decent leading villain in a Bond movie so far. Let's hope the casting in future movies is good enough to revise that opinion some time. ” - ingemar-4
 
22.
Joseph Wiseman
Actor, Dr. No
Joseph Wiseman was born on May 15, 1918 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He came to Broadway in the 1930s, where he was critically hailed for performances in Shakespeare's "King Lear", Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy" and Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya". Motion pictures in which Wiseman has been seen include Detective Story...
“ Although, in my opinion, overshadowed by Anthony Dawson, Joseph Wiseman does a great job as the very first leading Bond villain in a feature film, as the spooky Doctor No. ” - ingemar-4
 
23.
“ It is better if a Bond actor looks funny than looks boring. Putter Smith is really not an actor at all, but he looks funny - and Bruce Glover did the acting for both. ” - ingemar-4
 
24.
Leonard Barr
Actor, The Sting
Leonard Barr was a comic and eccentric dancer who was famous for being Dean Martin's uncle. He really was Dean Martin's uncle, as he was the brother of Dino's mother, Angela Crocetti (née Barra). They were Italians of mixed Neapolitan and Sicilian ancestry. Born Leonard Barra on September 27, 1903 in West Virginia...
“ Although "Diamonds are forever" is a messy story, casting is wonderful. Leonard Barr as Shady Tree is yet another example. ” - ingemar-4
 
25.
Charles Gray
The son of a surveyor, Charles Gray grew up in Queens Park, London, and went to school in his home town of Bournemouth. As a young actor, he received his vocal training from the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and at the Old Vic, having long abandoned his first job as clerk for a real estate agent...
“ After clearly deciding that Blofeld is bald in "You only live twice" and "In her Majesty's Secret Service", Charles Gray was a strange pick as Blofeld, but he was character enough to carry it. ” - ingemar-4
 
26.
David Bauer
Actor, Patton
Born in Chicago in 1917, David Bauer found more success as an actor in Europe than he did in his home country. He was one of those caught up in the anti-Communist hysteria that swept the US, and especially Hollywood, in the 1950s. Bauer left the US and settled in Great Britain. He found a niche in British television...
“ I almost feel bad for picking so many from "Diamonds are forever", it isn't even my favourite Bond, but there are so many good actors there. David Bauer as Morten Slumber is yet another who fits his role perfectly. (But in all honesty, the movie also includes a few bad cases... but let's forget them for now.) ” - ingemar-4
 
27.
“ Yaphet Kotto made a pretty good MrBig/Katanga in "Live and let die". With Geoffrey Holder and Julius Harris making more colorful characters in the same movie, Kotto is quite overshadowed, but he still delivers as the top guy, acting a "monarch". (Thanks to Stan Still for suggesting him.) ” - ingemar-4
 
28.
Julius Harris
Prior to breaking into films, Philadelphia native Julius Harris worked as a bouncer in New York City. It was due to his many associations with struggling actors, that on a dare, Harris auditioned for his first role, in the well-received picture Nothing But a Man, in which he played a father in the South, alongside Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln...
“ As I mentioned with David Bauer, I feel a bit reluctant to include several actors from the same movie, but... can we really skip Tee Hee? Good acting? Maybe not so much, but a colorful character? Yes! ” - ingemar-4