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No Time to Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga: "Safin’s not, as some have speculated, Dr No"

Rami Malek in No Time to Die
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

No Time to Die director Cory Joji Fukunaga has opened up about the movie's villain Safin, played by Rami Malek – and dispelled a popular theory. 

"He’s not, as some have speculated, Dr. No," the filmmaker tells SFX in the new issue of the magazine, which features Dune on the cover.

Safin's agenda remains undisclosed but he’s rumored to be using weaponized technology. What makes him the right villain for today? 

"It’s so hard to term him as a villain in this world anymore,” Fukunaga says. “We live in a very educated, saturated world of converse narratives. Anyone can be vilified or turned into a hero. It’s more and more difficult to create villains because it’s got to the point where they become parody, especially once Austin Powers came out in the ’90s. One of the most difficult things about Bond films is that you can’t really wink and nod to yourself. You have to try and find a way of taking it seriously. At the same time it’s being completely aware that you can be parodied."

He adds: "Making a villain that doesn’t seem laughable, that you can take seriously, where it’s still frightening what they’re attempting to do and why they must be stopped, is more difficult than people actually acknowledge. I remember us sitting around early in the development stage. Barbara and Michael have been doing this for decades and even Barbara admitted, 'This is really hard!' 

Safin is a terrorist leader on a revenge mission who comes up against Bond (Daniel Craig), but we haven't seen him before – despite what some have theorized. 

"Everyone thinks it’s so easy to make these tentpole films, that it’s just formulaic and you just plug-and-play and people are going to show up for the cinema. Actually, if you want a good film you have to take it seriously and put a lot of thought into it. It takes a lot of smart people to create these films, and also to create these characters that will hopefully last. This is a new villain. He’s not, as some have speculated, Dr. No. Hopefully he’ll be one that is lasting in some way."

For more from Fukunaga and the entire Bond cast, make sure to buy the new issue of SFX Magazine. No Time to Die arrives on the big screen on September 30 in the UK and October 8 in the US.