Valentin Zukovsky: From KGB Agent to Bond Ally
Valentin Dmitryovich Zukovsky, an ex-KGB intelligence officer, now Russian mafia head, who presently operates a bar, a casino, and a caviar factory, and a valuable ally for Bond.
Portrayed by the late Robbie Coltrane, this recurring ally, first introduced in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye. Zukovsky’s presence continues in the 1999 film The World is Not Enough, always reluctantly offering Bond valuable information and even saving his life.
In his early years as a KGB intelligence agent, Valentin locks horns with James Bond, a showdown that culminates with Bond shooting Valentin in the leg, absconding with his car, and winning the affections of Valentin’s girlfriend.
Now on the hunt for Janus, Bond turns to Zukovsky at his nightclub in St. Petersburg, attempting to persuade him to arrange a meeting with Janus.
Initially, Zukovsky brushes off Bond’s request, bitterly reminded of the gunshot wound in his knee that aches daily and intensifies in the cold. In a revenge attempt, he fires at the sofa where Bond sits.
However, a combination of a bribing him with the promise of military equipment and the knowledge that Bond’s shot to the leg could have been fatal convinces Zukovsky to cooperate.
Despite initially harboring resentment towards Bond following his KGB days, Zukovsky eventually softens his stance when he realizes that collaborating with Bond can prove profitable.
The World Is Not Enough
Fast forward to 1999, Valentin Zukovsky is now a casino mogul in Baku, Azerbaijan. Bond turns to him again, this time for details on the terrorist Renard. Later in the casino, Bond watches as Elektra King wins a straightforward card game, earning a hefty $1 million from Zukovsky.
Bond and Dr. Christmas Jones visit the Russian tycoon at his caviar factory. After the factory’s destruction, Zukovsky discloses that the money is intended to compensate his nephew Nikolai for transporting a submarine to Istanbul.
Zukovsky guides them, and his henchman and driver Mister Bullion to an old KGB safehouse in Istanbul, now under FSB control. M, while imprisoned, uses a clock battery to trigger a tracker that Bond had discovered and passed to her. An FSB radio analyst picks up the signal and reveals their location.
As the group prepares to leave, Bullion leaves his suitcase behind in the safehouse, leading to an explosion that seemingly kills everyone except Bond and Christmas, but they’re taken captive by Gabor and his henchmen.
Unknowingly, Zukovsky survived the improvised explosive device attack, and he initiates an assault on Maiden’s Tower where Bond is held. He kills Mister Bullion as he infiltrates the tower.
Then after entering the room, he demands Elektra King comply with him, but she shoots him. Despite his wound, Valentin manages to perform a clever shot using a concealed gun in his cane, providing Bond with the chance to escape Elektra’s Antique Torture Chair.
Robbie Coltrane OBE (30 March 1950 – 14 October 2022), born Anthony Robert McMillan, was a renowned Scottish actor and comedian who made significant contributions to the entertainment industry with his versatile performances.
Educated at Belmont House School and Glenalmond College, Coltrane initially studied art before transitioning into acting. His acting career took flight in the 1980s with roles in films such as Flash Gordon and Mona Lisa, but it was his award-winning portrayal of Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald in the TV series Cracker that made him a household name.
Coltrane later starred in James Bond films and the Harry Potter series, displaying his broad acting range. A passionate fan of transportation, he presented documentaries such as Coltrane in a Cadillac and Coltrane’s Planes and Automobiles.
Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an OBE in 2006 for his services to drama. Despite suffering from osteoarthritis, Robbie Coltrane’s career spanned over four decades, leaving a lasting legacy in the entertainment world.