There are few film franchises with as many fascinating and fun villains as James Bond, from Auric Goldfinger to Ernst Stavro Blofeld to Red Grant to Alec Trevelyan and on, and the upcoming 24th Bond film - Spectre - is likely no different. In it, Christoph Waltz plays Franz Oberhauser, a mysterious man with a mysterious connection to 007 himself. There's been much speculation about the character - is he (twist) secretly Blofeld under a fake name? - but so far very little has been revealed about him.
Back in March, we visited the set of Spectre in Mexico City and had the opportunity to interview Waltz. And even though we were embargoed from running this interview until today, the two-time Oscar winner was still very tight-lipped about who his character is and what we can expect from him.
Screen Rant: You're playing a character named Franz Oberhauser -
Christoph Waltz: [Makes the so-so gesture]
SR: Did I get that right?
CW: No, but I know what you mean.
SR: Do you want to do it for me?
CW: Franz Oberhauser.
SR: There we go.
CW: Yes, we certainly do.
SR: That was much better.
CW: I agree.
SR: What can you tell us about that character? Anything?
CW: Sure! What do you want to know?
SR: For example, the [first] trailer seemed to be positioning you as the head of the evil organization known as SPECTRE, which some might interpret as you being maybe an updated version of Blofeld. Is there any validity to that?
CW: What makes you think the head?
SR: Because you were at the head of the table?
SR: Is that fair?
CW: Yeah, I certainly was at the head of the table. You're absolutely right. This Franz Oberhauser is, in a way, a visionary businessman like, you know, Elon Musk or Richard Branson, with a vision for the future and a vision of what development could be and should be to the benefit of humankind.
SR: So he's just a regular business guy, there's nothing sinister going on?
CW: I just tried to give him all this aura and you say "regular business guy." Does that sound like a regular business guy?
SR: Well, a regular big-time business guy.
CW: Not regular. Irregular. Well, Elon Musk is not a regular big-time businessman. He shoots people into space.
SR: That's true. Fair enough.
CW: Actually, Elon Musk is a perfect James Bond villain.
SR: [Laughter] So you would say that your character is a Bond villain?
CW: Well, I mean, you did just hear me say that? Elon Musk is a perfect Bond villain?
SR: Right, but you didn't say that you were.
CW: No, of course not.
SR: The [first] trailer also seemed to be hinting at a possible shared mysterious past between your character and 007. Is there any truth to that or...?
CW: Well, inasmuch as there is a relation between these characters as they go through the movies...and that's 50 years now. So it is really a set constellation. And those relations are true, you're absolutely right. Beyond that? I'm not so sure.
SR: Did you take any inspiration from previous Bond villains or Bond characters?
CW: Meaning - do I look at others and copy them? No.
SR: Okay. Do you have anything else coming up after Spectre?
CW: I hope so.
SR: Anything on record?
SR: All right.
CW: I mean, I hope my career doesn't end here.
SR: I don't think you have to worry about that.
CW: Thank you, that's kind of you. No, no, this is all good, you know? It's very difficult to really have a conversation about a movie that's only halfway through shooting. And we pretend we can talk about a result here, you know? We can't. So we have to - as we said in an interview just this morning - "It's a lot of beating around the bush." Then I said, "Well, but there's not much bush to beat around." So it's an additional fun aspect I suppose, but it makes it a little...
CW: Yes. Sort of hit-and-miss and in the dark and...
SR: Yeah. For me too.
CW: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and you flew in all the way from New York.
SR: That's true, but didn't you fly from Europe?
CW: Yeah, yeah.
SR: So we're all in the same boat.
Perhaps the most interesting moment in the interview came when Waltz talked about the relationship between his character and Bond "going back 50 years now." Now, maybe that's just a weird way of phrasing things (after all, he's trying to be incredibly ambiguous throughout the interview), but is he not implying that his character has been in previous movies in the franchise? If Franz Oberhauser is truly the character that Waltz is playing, that's not true. But if he's actually playing Blofeld? Well, then that would make much more sense, and it looks like he may have slipped up there.
Spectre hits theaters November 6th, 2015. Also, don't forget that today is Global James Bond Day - the anniversary of Dr. No's 1962 theatrical release.