Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(June 26, 1951–     ): Charismatic American character actor who portrayed ruthless South American drug lord Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill. Davi was a breath of fresh air after the comic book Bond villains of the Roger Moore films and the buffoons in The Living Daylights.

Like Timothy Dalton’s version of Bond, Davi’s Sanchez is a darker, more realistic character who is totally immersed in his corrupt world. Such a villain was necessary in order to give Bond’s revenge mission credibility—in line with the way Ian Fleming portrayed the relationships between Bond and the villains in his first 007 novel, Casino Royale. Remembered Davi, “Timothy and I were fans of the Bond books. We went back to Casino Royale because they wanted a grittier Bond. Fleming never thought of Bond as a goody two shoes. I call Timothy Dalton the father of Daniel Craig. . . . Timothy brought that intensity and darkness as an actor.”[1]

Born in Astoria, Queens, Davi made his motion picture debut as Vito Genovese in director Richard C. Sarafian’s period crime drama Gangster Wars (1981). Two roles in the 1980s raised his profile considerably: opera-singing villain Jake Fratelli in The Goonies (1985) and FBI special agent Big Johnson in Die Hard (1988). His costar in the latter film, Grand L. Bush, was also cast in Licence to Kill, as Hawkins.

[1] George Simpson, “James Bond Villain Robert Davi ‘Timothy Dalton Is the Father of Daniel Craig’s Darker 007,’” Daily Express, June 11, 2019.


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