Warning: Major SPECTRE spoilers ahead!
Christoph Waltz tried to deny it. If you want to be tougher on the guy you could say he flat-out lied about it. When asked by British GQ earlier this year if he was playing iconic Bond villain Blofeld in SPECTRE, Waltz responded: “That is absolutely untrue. That rumor started on the Internet, and the Internet is a pest. The name of my character is Franz Oberhauser.”
The rumor made complete sense. Here was a Bond movie called SPECTRE, named after the shady contingent of evildoers that have since the very dawn of the 007 mythology been the central rival to Her Majesty’s Secret Service, MI6. And here was Waltz, Hollywood’s most prolific antagonist, the rogue from Inglourious Basterds, The Green Hornet, and Water for Elephants who is so good at being bad that even his San Francisco painter (in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes) was a despicable excuse for a human being. Of course we had to think he was Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the SPECTRE kingpin.
And the rumor was true.
(Another warning: Seriously, stop reading if you don’t want the end of SPECTRE ruined for you.)
Yes, his character is technically named Franz Oberhauser. At least that’s his birth name. When we first meet him, he’s the shadowy man at the head of the table presiding over a SPECTRE lieutenant check-in. That’s the first clue. He knows Bond, who is eavesdropping on the affair, well, and early on takes responsibility for all of the mishaps that have plagued 007 during the Mr. Craig era (so throughout Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall).
Later we’ll find out that Bond knows him just as well — Oberhauser’s father adopted him after his parents perished (Oberhauser is indeed the name of a man from Ian Fleming’s stories who served as a father figure to Bond and taught him how to ski, but he didn’t have his own son). Of course, Pops Oberhauser took to little James moreso than his crazy little biological tyke, and this drove Franz further into madness and ultimately toward the madman he’s come to be today. You know, the guy who’s engineered a series of terrorist attacks around the world and now sits in a fortress in Northern Africa where is he tortures Bond and awaits full control of the world’s collective intelligence. (Leading up to the events of Spectre Bond had been under the impression Franz had died in a skiing accident with his father.)
The family connection is definitely a nice twist, but the ultimate reveal is far less surprising (and made pretty much obvious once we see a white cat). Franz killed his father because of the betrayal he felt, faked his own death, and reinvented himself as… wait for it… Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Image via WhatCulture.com
Waltz joins an impressive list of other actors who’ve played SPECTRE’s No. 1, including Donald Pleasance (You Only Live Twice), Telly Savalas (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and Max von Sydow (Never Say Never Again, if that counts). And while Mike Myers was not technically playing Blofeld, his classic Dr. Evil spoof-job was closely modeled after Blofeld. (In fact some outlets have pointed out the fact that SPECTRE essentially steals its twist from Austin Powers in Goldmember.)
You can’t blame Waltz for trying to be deceptive. He was guarding one of the revealing and potentially surprising elements of the entire series, and was in a tough position to begin with. The whole thing reminds us of a similar scenario that played out in the lead up to Star Trek Into Darkness. Benedict Cumberbatch (as well as other parties involved) denied time and time again that he was the franchise’s most iconic villain, Khan. And then of course he was Khan.
So Waltz was indeed in a tough spot. But let’s face it, lying about your identity? That’s totally a Blofeld move.
Watch: We rank our favorite Blofelds: