Oscar winner Rami Malek hinted Thursday he would appear as the villain in a new James Bond thriller that will see Daniel Craig bow out as 007 after eight years.
The 25th edition of one of the world’s most enduring Hollywood franchises will also see the return of Ralph Fiennes and Lea Seydoux.
Malek won this year’s Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
“I promise you all I will be making sure Mr Bond does not have an easy ride in this,” he said in a livestream announcement of the new film’s cast.
The big reveal was shot outside Bond creator Ian Fleming’s private villa at Goldeneye in Jamaica.
Film producer Barbara Broccoli probably disappointed many by refusing to give away the new film’s name.
The productions has been repeatedly delayed over disputes over the script. It is now due to open in April 2020.
But she did reveal one tantalising plot line.
Bond will be in what suspiciously sounds like retirement when the action kicks off at the Goldeneye resort.
“Bond is not on active service when we start,” Broccoli said. “He is actually enjoying himself in Jamaica.”
Craig jocularly played along with Malek’s warning about the tough time he faces in his fifth and final appearance as the everyone’s favourite British spy.
“Scared, a little bit creepy,” Craig said of Malek’s message.
Craig added that he has been a Bond fan since childhood.
“I remember going to seen them as a kid and they were a moment — a new Bond coming out was incredibly exciting,” he recalled.
“We’ve tried to continue that tradition of just making movies that stand out.”
– ‘Quite a ride’ –
Fiennes will return for another mission as British secret service chief M, as will Jeffrey Wright as the CIA operative who last helped 007 in “Quantum of Solace”.
Moneypenny will be played by Naomie Harris while Ben Whishaw will come back be as the gadget-savvy — and cat-loving — spook Q.
“My favourite thing about playing the character of Q is the sort of repartee and the banter I get to have with 007,” Whishaw said.
“Q is very fond of cats and he has two feline companions which may or may not appear in this new film. That’s all I’m saying.”
The new production’s delays were prompted in part by original director Danny Boyle’s replacement by Cary Fukunaga in September.
London and Hollywood media reported that Boyle left because producers refused to let him kill the current version of 007 and replace him with a woman or a non-white actor.
Boyle said only that revealing the true reason would be “unfair” on his successor.
Fukunaga gave little away Thursday.
“It’s an honour and I’m chomping at the bit,” the new director said.
“Daniel is my favourite Bond I want to continue that… to make sure this run of films have a really great next chapter, upping the ante and making sure who comes next has a tough job”.
All the cast members played their cards close to their chest.
“I’m very happy to be back and I can’t wait to start,” Seydoux said.
The film is due to feature its familiar mix of exotic locations and those closer to the British spy’s London home.
It will shoot across the seas from Jamaica to Norway and include some scenes in the cave city of Matera in southern Italy.
“We’ve got quite a ride in store,” producer Broccoli said.