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Rami Malek Says ‘No Time to Die’ Villain Safin May Be Connected to Dr. No
If you’re a James Bond fan who speculated that Rami Malek’s mysterious, masked No Time to Die villain was in fact famed Bond villain Dr. No, the time may be coming to cash in your bets. In a new interview with Esquire UK, Malek added a few more breadcrumbs to the ongoing trail of clues suggesting that “Safin” isn’t who he seems.
Though Malek prefaced the conversation by saying, “I have to be extremely careful. I can’t really talk about the character,” he responded (albeit cheekily) to rumors that his character is actually Dr. No, an iconic villain played by Joseph Wiseman in the very first James Bond movie.
“I heard that,” Malek said. “Am I? I mean, isn’t that an exciting thing to consider all the way up to the release?” He did, however, acknowledge that “there is a resurgence of an Ian Fleming influence on this film.” In the 25th Bond movie and the swan song for fan-favorite Bond Daniel Craig, there would certainly be some poetic circularity to including Dr. No, the first on-screen Bond villain and a classic Ian Fleming creation from a 1958 novel.
Daniel Craig would only go so far as to say of Malek’s role, “He’s a very complex human being, he played a very complex part, and it was just fabulous to watch.”
Previously, Malek said that his character was “a very nasty piece of work,” though he considers himself “altruistic at heart.” Malek was thoughtful about the internal life of the villain, saying, “I think all villains, if you play them correctly, are all misunderstood.”
Malek joined No Time to Die so late in the game that there was no time for rehearsal. However, according to Craig, with whom Malek claims to have shared a “mutually respectful” and “philosophically aggressive” acting partnership, Malek was a consummate professional.
“I have a responsibility on these films,” Craig said. “All I want to do is make [Rami] feel as comfortable as it’s possible to be, for him to feel like he’s welcome, because it’s a huge machine and I don’t want it to feel overwhelming. There aren’t many films bigger than Bond, so I want to make sure that when someone like Rami walks onto set, he can hit the ground running. But he was ready. He was ready to go.”
Sam Esmail, the writer and director of Malek’s television series Mr. Robot, which just ended in December, also sounded off on the mystery.
“Watching the trailer, I’ve got my own expectations of what his part is going to be and how he’s going to perform it,” Esmail said. “But this is the one thing I definitely know going into it: all of those expectations are going to be subverted. He’s going to surprise me in a very interesting and compelling way. I know it’s going to be really special.”
No Time to Die hits theaters on April 10th. Until then, keep gathering evidence.
Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.