The Daniel Craig era of James Bond began by deconstructing the tropes that had served the franchise so well for decades, before eventually folding them back into the mix as the actor’s five-film stint at the helm progressed, and it was largely successful if a little ropey at points.
Judi Dench’s M was the only pre-Craig holdover to begin with, but by the end of No Time to Die we’d been reintroduced to fancy gadgets, Q, Moneypenny, a brief love interest named Strawberry Fields, Blofeld, the nefarious Spectre organization and much more. However, one major twist was deemed to be a little too farfetched by Ralph Fiennes.
Speaking to the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the actor revealed that Spectre director Sam Mendes had some bold ideas about the identity of Bond’s arch-nemesis Blofeld, which would have negated the need to bring in two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz at all.
“I think I can say now that I had to fight off an attempt by Sam in Spectre to make M – I said I don’t want to play M and then you turn around and make him the bad guy. M is never the bad guy. So I had to have some pretty intense discussions with Sam saying, ‘This is not fine with me…’ It was like he was Blofeld or something, but that was a red line.”
Having M turn out to be the big bad of the Craig years more than likely would have been rejected by the fanbase, so it was a smart call to veer away from what would have admittedly been a jaw-dropping revelation. Waltz didn’t get a lot to work with as Blofeld, even if he did end up maximizing his minutes with a turn that was equal parts sinister, slimy, and just hammy enough.