Best Bond villain actors

by ingemar-4 | created - 17 Jul 2011 | updated - 19 Feb 2014 | Public

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.

1. Anthony Dawson

Actor | Dial M for Murder

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"?

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 ...

Did a fabulous Wint, showing how much you can tell by moving an eyebrow and by picking the right voice.

3. Vincent Schiavelli

Actor | Tomorrow Never Dies

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 ...

By far the best actor in "Tomorrow never dies", despite the brief appearance.

4. Peter Lorre

Actor | Casablanca

As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for several years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M (...

The first "Casino Royale" was pretty simple, but Peter Lorre did the best Le Chiffre ever (and also the first filmed Bond villain ever).

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 ...

How he could make such a good Goldfinger without even understanding his lines is beyond me, but the fact remains, he is very enjoyable.

6. Lotte Lenya

Actress | From Russia with Love

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 (1963).

She was born Karoline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blaumauer on October 18, 1898, in Vienna, Austria (at ...

Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb is just perfect.

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 (1964), with his lethal martial arts and steel-brimmed bowler hat. He was born Toshiyuki Sakata in Hawaii, of ...

An actor who is right just by looking right. His Oddjob is an icon.

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 Kojak: The ...

Did a very good and often overlooked Blofeld.

9. Donald Pleasence

Actor | Halloween II

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 ...

The first time we could see Blofeld's face he was given quite a face, the one of Donald Pleasence. A good choice.

10. Gottfried John

Actor | GoldenEye

Gottfried John was born on August 29, 1942 in Berlin, Germany. He was an actor, known for GoldenEye (1995), Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar (1999) and Proof of Life (2000). He was married to Brigitte. He died on September 1, 2014 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.

I can't say any positive things about the casting in Goldeneye, except for John Gottfried.

11. Max von Sydow

Actor | Minority Report

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 ...

His talent for villains is obvious as Blofeld in "Never say never again".

12. Geoffrey Holder

Actor | Annie

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 ...

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.

13. Christopher Lee

Actor | Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

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 ...

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.

14. Hervé Villechaize

Actor | The Man with the Golden Gun

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 ...

Smallest Bond villain ever, and quite a character.

15. Richard Kiel

Actor | Moonraker

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 ...

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.

16. Vladek Sheybal

Actor | From Russia with Love

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 ...

The self-confident Kronsteen is yet another strong performance in "From Russia with love".

17. Ilse Steppat

Actress | On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Ilse Steppat was born on November 30, 1917 in Barmen, Germany as Ilse Paula Steppat. She was an actress, known for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Rittmeister Wronski (1954) and Marriage in the Shadows (1947). She was married to Max Nosseck. She died on December 21, 1969 in West Berlin, ...

Good female villain, Blofeld's second in command in "In her Majesty's Secret Service".

18. Julian Glover

Actor | Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Julian Wyatt Glover was born on March 27, 1935 in Hampstead, London, England, to Honor Ellen Morgan (Wyatt), a BBC journalist, and Claude Gordon Glover, a BBC radio producer. He is of English, Scottish and Welsh ancestry. Primarily a classical stage actor, Glover trained at the National Youth ...

Julian Glover did a handsome villain in "For your eyes only".

19. Michael Gothard

Actor | Lifeforce

Best remembered in Britain for the television series Arthur of the Britons (1972), Ken Russell 's The Devils (1971) and as the villain in For Your Eyes Only (1981). His break into films came with Don Levy's Herostratus (1967). Michael was unmarried, living in Hampstead, England and under treatment ...

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.

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 (1972), and then scored the lead role of Buford Pusser (!) in the ...

Joe Don Baker stands out as the best villain actor by far in "The living daylights", as Brad Whittaker.

21. Jonathan Pryce

Actor | Tomorrow Never Dies

From Holywell to Hollywood, Jonathan Pryce, CBE is a critically acclaimed and award winning actor from North Wales, internationally regarded as the one of greatest ones both on stage and screen. Renowned for his immense versatility and powerful presence he has transcended the industry, effortlessly...

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.

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 ...

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.

23. Putter Smith

Actor | Diamonds Are Forever

Putter Smith was born on January 19, 1941 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Patrick Verne Smith. He is an actor and composer, known for Diamonds Are Forever (1971), In the Mood (1987) and Citizen Soldier (1990).

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.

24. Leonard Barr

Actor | Diamonds Are Forever

Leonard Barr was a comic and eccentric dancer who was famous for truly being 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, he became a ...

Although "Diamonds are forever" is a messy story, casting is wonderful. Leonard Barr as Shady Tree is yet another example.

25. Charles Gray

Actor | The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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 ...

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.

26. David Bauer

Actor | Diamonds Are Forever

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 ...

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.)

27. Yaphet Kotto

Actor | Alien

Yaphet Kotto was born on November 15, 1939 in New York City, New York, USA as Yaphet Frederick Kotto. He is an actor and writer, known for Alien (1979), Live and Let Die (1973) and Midnight Run (1988). He has been married to Tessie Sinahon since July 12, 1998. He was previously married to ...

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.)

28. Julius Harris

Actor | Live and Let Die

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 (1964), in which he played a father ...

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!