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Bond 25: Is Christoph Waltz returning as Blofeld?

Get ready for round two, Mr. Bond.

Although his return hasn't been officially confirmed, Christoph Waltz — who portrayed the villainous Ernst Stavro Blofeld in 2015's Spectre — has been spotted shooting scenes on the Pinewood Studios set of the as-yet untitled Bond 25. Baz Bamigboye, a columnist for the Daily Mail, dropped the bombshell news on his Twitter account.

If true, the news would be a bit of a surprise, as Waltz has indicated in the past that the flick's producers weren't interested in bringing back the character. In an interview posted to the Talky Movie Facebook page in October of 2017, the actor had this to say when asked about the potential for a return engagement: "No. I'm really sad, but that's the tradition, that there is a new…name. Sorry, but I would've liked to."

Apparently, said producers have had a change of heart, although it's obviously not known how large or small Waltz's role in the film will be. Although the character of Blofeld has a long history of vexing 007 onscreen, Waltz would be only the second actor to reprise the role.

The evil mastermind behind the terrorist organization Spectre, Blofeld first appeared in 1963's From Russia With Love (although he was not named in the credits). Seen only from behind, he was portrayed by actor Anthony Dawson (who had previously played Professor Dent in 1962's Dr. No), with Blofeld's voice provided by character actor Eric Pohlmann; the pair returned to the role, with Blofeld's face once again obscured, in 1965's Thunderball.

The next portrayal of Blofeld, in which his scarred visage is seen for the first time, would prove to be one of the most iconic villainous turns in film history. For 1967's You Only Live Twice, the role was taken on by Donald Pleasence (who would go on to play Dr. Loomis in John Carpenter's horror masterpiece Halloween), and so menacing was his interpretation of the character that it would go on to influence a number of screen villains, from the straight-faced to the satirical, in its wake. (Most notably, Dr. Claw of the classic Inspector Gadget cartoon and Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers franchise were directly inspired by Pleasence's version of Blofeld.)

The character resurface in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, played by Telly Savalas of Kojak fame. It was this film that established Blofeld's status as Bond's ultimate arch-nemesis, as the villain is responsible for the death of 007's wife, who was killed in a drive-by shooting (in which Blofeld himself was the driver).

1971's Diamonds Are Forever saw the role taken over by Charles Gray, who had previously portrayed a fellow MI6 operative in You Only Live Twice. Due to legal issues, Blofeld once again was relegated to a back-of-the-head-only turn in 1981's For Your Eyes Only (played by John Hollis, with Robert Rietty providing the voice), and in 1983, the great Max Von Sydow appeared briefly in Sean Connery's return to the role of Bond, Never Say Never Again. 

This was the character's final onscreen appearance until Spectre, and most fans agreed that Waltz had acquitted himself nicely in the role. As the Daniel Craig-led Bond pictures take place in an alternate continuity, the character's backstory was significantly retconned; it was revealed that his real name was Franz Oberhauser, and he was the son of a man who took the orphan Bond in as a child. Jealous of the future 007's supplanting of his own position in the family, Oberhauser killed his father, faked his own death, took on his iconic alias, and founded Spectre with the intention of working behind the scenes to seal Bond's doom.

Since the character survived a helicopter crash to be hauled away by MI6 at the conclusion of Spectre, it's been rumored ever since that Blofeld would return for Bond 25. But Waltz was nowhere to be seen on the cast list released by the production in April, and it's been confirmed that Rami Malek — fresh off his triumphant turn as the late Freddie Mercury in last year's Bohemian Rhapsody — will be filling the main villain role. As such, it's likely that Waltz's appearance in the film will amount to little more than a cameo — but fans will be psyched to see him, nonetheless.

In addition to Craig, Malek and Waltz, the flick's cast includes Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), Lashawna Lynch (Captain Marvel), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Lea Seydeoux (The Lobster), Rory Kinnear (The Imitation Game), Ben Whishaw (Mary Poppins Returns), Dali Benssalah (A Faithful Man), Billy Magnussen (Velvet Buzzsaw), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), and David Dencik (Chernobyl). It hits screens on April 8, 2020.