Al Pacino – 007’s Next Blofeld?

If you go back to the first seven James Bond films and watch them in order, you’ll find a serialised consistency to the criminal organisation SPECTRE – the bad guys throughout all the Sean Connery (and George Lazenby) films of the series.

In “Dr. No”, the film’s villain only mentioned the organisation. In the second and fourth (“From Russia with Love,” “Thunderball”) you saw more of SPECTRE, though the head of the group was only a cameo by a man who never showed his face – only his arms, lower torso, and white Persian cat. In the fifth (“You Only Live Twice”) he finally revealed his face and name (Ernst Stavro Blofeld) and served as the main villain right through til the end of the seventh (“Diamonds are Forever”).

Played by the likes of Donald Pleasance, Telly Savalas and Charles Gray, the character’s distinctive cat, Nehru jacket, and at times bald head and facial scarring became icons of supervillainy and inspired many copycats and homages – most notably Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” films. Due to rights issues, the character never came back after ‘Diamonds’ short of an unnamed appearance where he was killed off at the beginning of 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only”, and a short appearance by Max Von Sydow in the unofficial Bond feature “Never Say Never Again” in 1983.

Now the series may follow a similar pattern this time around. 2006’s unofficial restart with “Casino Royale” had only mentions of an organisation that the villain LeChiffre worked for and was ultimately killed by one of its members Mr. White. As previously reported, the upcoming follow-up “Quantum of Solace” has Bond (Daniel Craig) finding out more about this group and tackling a villain named Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) who’s another member.

An interesting story today however at AICN reports that the film will also feature a cameo by the head of this organisation who will possibly serve as the larger villain overall throughout Daniel Craig’s stint as 007 (Craig is said to be signed on for five films in total so far). Here’s what they said about the role and who may be playing it:

“The big news that he leaked was that Al Pacino would be taking part in filming. I was a little shocked as the cast has been revealed aready, but he said Pacino would play the head of the terrorist group introduced in ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Quantum of Solace’. Al is said to come to Pinewood in April-May to film what is said to be a brief cameo.”

The news is surprising considering the Bond films are more notable for casting mostly unknown actors rather than household names – there’s always exceptions though in case of the Bond girls like Denise Richards & Halle Berry, but the villains tend to be proven European & American thesps that are hardly known by the public at large at the time. AICN however states the rumor is unconfirmed as yet even through their regular sources so be aware it’s still very much up in the air.

The news has received decidedly mixed reaction with only those newcomers who jumped onboard with ‘Royale’ and ignore the rest seemingly approving. Personally as much as I like Pacino I hope it’s not true – this is more the role for a talented British veteran actor, a well enough known name but one that can disappear into a role. In other 007 news, video is up of shooting underway in Panama City where the National Theatre stage was converted to a scene set in the Bolivian jungle.