Giving movie villains a religious motive is a crutch too many storytellers have leaned on over the years, and definitely creeped up more after the Gulf War and again after 9/11. This stereotyping really only seemed to go one way, of course. If you needed a bad guy, make him brown and make him an extremist from the Middle East, that was enough. Rami Malek, who plays the villain in Bond 25, sought to break that cycle and it’s one reason why he’s excited for the role.
“It’s a great character and I’m very excited,” Malek told Daily Mirror. “But that was one thing that I discussed with Cary [Fukunaga]. I said, ‘We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion. That’s not something I would entertain, so if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out.’”
“But that was clearly not his vision. So he’s a very different kind of terrorist. It’s another extremely clever script from the people who have figured out exactly what people want in those movies. But I feel a substantial weight on my shoulders. I mean, Bond is something that we all grow up with.”
The James Bond franchise is especially guilty of using religious and ethnic stereotypes for its villains, so knowing that Malek’s will break that mold is exciting. As for what his character’s motivations are, we don’t know. Some have hinted at him being a genetic terrorist, which I think is a little too close to Riz Ahmed’s Venom role. Whatever it is, I’m down to see Bond face a different kind of threat.
Bond 25 opens April 8th 2020.