- Holly Goodhead: "Do you know him?"
- James Bond: "Not socially. His name's Jaws. He kills people."
- ―Holly Goodhead and James Bond[src]
Jaws is a fictional assassin in the James Bond media franchise with stainless steel teeth. He first appeared in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me and made a subsequent appearance in 1979's Moonraker. The character was played by the late actor Richard Kiel.
An obvious reference to the 1975 horror/thriller film of the same name, Jaws gets his name both from his enormous size and strong metal teeth that could bite through virtually anything. During filming, Kiel would only wear the metal teeth for a few minutes because they hurt his mouth.
Jaws first appeared in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me as a henchman to the villain, Karl Stromberg. He would later appear in the sequel Moonraker as a henchman to the villain Hugo Drax. However, in this second appearance, his character was changed from that of a ruthless and unstoppable killing machine to more of a comedy figure. He eventually turns against Drax and helps Bond to defeat him, and also gains a girlfriend.
"Well, here's to us." (Jaws first and final line to girlfriend Dolly)
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Jaws battled a shark and won, had an entire construction scaffold collapse on top of him, drove a car off a cliff into someone's roof, and fell off a moving train and survived. Furthermore, in Moonraker, Jaws survives a fall from an airplane without a parachute in the opening credits; later in the movie, he survives a high-speed crash of a tramway car in Rio de Janeiro and a fall from a Brazilian waterfall (shot at Iguassu Falls). After every accident, a signature move by Jaws is to get up, dust himself off, and walk away.
In addition to having steel teeth, Jaws was also 7 feet, 2 inches (2.18 m) tall for 315 pounds (142 kgs). He is also extremely strong, which forced Bond to be especially inventive while fighting him. In combat, Bond found himself caught in an unbreakable death grip by Jaws, who was about to fatally bite him; Bond only escaped by using a broken electric lamp to send an electric shock through the assassin's teeth to stun him. Jaws also has an uncanny ability to survive any misfortune seemingly completely unscathed and come back to challenge Bond again.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Jaws survives a battle underwater with a shark and the destruction of Stromberg's lair. Most notably, in Moonraker he survives falling several thousand feet without a parachute (granted, he falls through a circus tent and lands in the trapeze net), a crash through a building on top of a runaway cable car, and falling off a waterfall, as well as the destruction of most of Drax's space station. He has fantastic skills in unarmed combat, combining his steel teeth, his tremendous strength with several highly complex martial arts moves. Along with Baron Samedi, Oddjob and Tee Hee, Jaws is perhaps the most iconic James Bond henchman in the franchise, and one of several characters who have creative appearances, deaths, fighting styles and relationships with other characters. He is exceedingly sadistic and psychopathic, smiling when he kills people and fights James Bond. He has almost reckless in his efforts to overpower his enemies and doesn't take in his surroundings, notably what could be used to defeat him.
Jaws' jaws are his weakness as well as his signature weapon. They are highly susceptible to magnetism, electricity and heat. They are also incredibly durable, able to withstand a bullet, an explosion and several direct punches. This also renders him unable to communicate with others.
Most of the background information on Jaws comes from Christopher Wood's novelisation of the film The Spy Who Loved Me, called James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me so as to differentiate from Ian Fleming's novel of the same name. In Wood's novel, Jaws's real name is Zbigniew Krycsiwiki and he was born in Kraków, Poland. Krycsiwiki was arrested by the secret police for his part in the "1972 bread riots". While imprisoned the police "beat him with hollow steel clubs encased in thick leather" until they thought he was dead leaving his jaw broken beyond repair. Krycsiwiki later escaped and stowed aboard one of Stromberg's vessels. Eventually he was caught; however, instead of turning him in Stromberg hired a prestigious doctor to create an artificial jaw. After 14 operations Krycsiwiki's jaw was restored using steel components that created two rows of terrifying razor-sharp teeth. The result of the artificial jaw left Jaws a mute.
Since none of the above is actually mentioned in either movie, this is not necessarily considered canon. Wood contradicts his own continuity when one compares his scripts and his novelisations; in the novelisation of The Spy Who Loved Me Wood specifically states that Jaws is a mute. Yet, in the film, Moonraker, he speaks, although in the novelisation James Bond and Moonraker, Jaws remains a mute. For the films, it is possible Jaws might have somehow regained the ability to speak between the two adventures, but there is nothing on screen or in literary form to suggest how this might have occurred.
One thing to also note is that Jaws was originally supposed to have been killed in the finale of James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, when Jaws encounters Stromberg's shark. The scene in the novelisation is ambiguous in that the blood mentioned could have been interpreted as either Jaws' or the shark's. Jaws at the time was technically attached to a magnet and dipped into the tank, unlike the film in which Bond releases Jaws from the magnet into the tank.
- "Now both hands were tearing at the magnet, and Jaws twisted furiously like a fish on the hook. As Bond watched in fascinated horror, a relentless triangle streaked up behind the stricken giant. A huge gray force launched itself through the wild water, and two rows of white teeth closed around the threshing flesh."
- ― Christopher Wood.
It has been stated that in the initial script, the film concluded with Jaws being killed by the shark; however, after a rough test screening including Lewis Gilbert's grandson, Jaws was so well liked that the scene was changed to have Jaws live. Jaws was later brought back in the film Moonraker and Christopher Wood's follow up novelisation of Moonraker, entitled James Bond and Moonraker.
Jaws, likely being the most popular of the henchmen and characters in the James Bond franchise, has appeared in three video games since his last cinematic appearance in Moonraker. His first appearance was in the 1993 Sega Megadrive game The Duel, where he appears multiple times, and also as the final opponent of the game. His second appearance would be in 1997, in the Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye (video game), in which Jaws — for unknown reasons — is working for Drax Corporation once again in a bonus level. In 2002, he appeared in Nightfire, but only as a multiplayer character.
In 2004, Jaws appeared again in the video game Everything or Nothing, working for the game's villain, Nikolai Diavolo. Richard Kiel is credited, because his face and body was used to create the 3D game model. He recorded no dialogue for the game (only grunts). Jaws makes an appearance in the Goldeneye remake in the multiplayer as a playable character in the splitscreen mode, and on Classic Conflict mode online. He has appeared in game 007 Legends .
Personality & Abilities
Jaws regularly doesn’t use firearms, unless attacking from a distance, preferring to use his physical strength and his metal teeth as his weapons. He seems to enjoy tearing out the jugulars of his victims after scaring them half to death. He effectively uses fear as a tactic to make his foes do mistakes, but Jaws also attacks in haste at times thus striking down objects that he shouldn’t have struck.
The henchman speaks very rarely although he is fully capable of doing so. Trying to get a bantering dialogue going with him in combat situations is useless. Plus, the likes of Bond will be too busy spending HPs just to survive to try banter. When taking order from his employer Jaws usually just nods and gets going. His intents are usually apparent from his body language. While not too intelligent, he is actually somewhat smarter than people usually give him credit for, and will perform some trickery. There is, at times, a certain slyness about him and his methods - he does use covers and disguises - and underestimating would be a severe mistake. At the same time he exhibits some of the behavior of a child. He has an odd personality and mentality, indeed.
While Jaws mostly does missions solo, he is not above teaming up with other henchmen or even opponents if justified. The death of such temporary compadres doesn’t become him the least, always being mission-oriented. He seems to find it amusing that Bond has survived him so many times, and usually greets him with a grin upon meeting him again. He always does what his employers tell him to do (unless they try to have him killed); if that happens he will look after his own interests and ally with former enemies, because as a professional he bears no ill will towards them. Neither will he be part of anything that could lead to the destruction of mankind or the Earth.
This is also an exceptionally strong and tough man. For being such a large man he is very quiet and stealthy, capable of surprising or evading the most perceptive of opponents. His famous bite attack, using his titanium teeth, is strong enough to easily cut through metal chains or men’s jugulars. He has something of a knack for finding his targets in very big cities without trouble, probably by using his criminal colleague.
Behind the scenes
Although Ian Fleming had requested that no elements from his original book The Spy Who Loved Me be used in the film series, the novel's antagonists would provide the basis for the characters of Jaws and Sandor. The novel features two thugs named Sol Horror and Sluggsy Morent. Horror is described as having steel-capped teeth, while Sluggsy had a clear bald head.
While Jaws was in two James Bond movies, he actually only had one short line of dialogue. In Moonraker, towards the end of the film, he turns to his girlfriend Dolly and says "Well, here's to us".
Richard Kiel passed away 3 days prior to his 75th birthday.
- Jaws was the second henchman to switch sides in the entire series. The first would be Ladislav Kutze. He's also the only other Bond villain apart from Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Mr. White to appear in more than one film.
- Bond punched Jaws in the mouth in The Spy Who Loved Me but it seems that he totally forgot about it in Moonraker when he did it again and both times it did not affect Jaws.
- In the final credits sequence of the 1999 film Inspector Gadget, Dr. Claw's assistant is shown attending a "Minion Recovery Group". Richard Kiel is one of the participants (along with Oddjob and Nick Nack) and is billed in the credits as 'Famous Guy with Metal Teeth'.
- Jaws also appears to be immune to being kicked in the crotch; when Bond tried it, Jaws didn't react. Instead we hear a clanging sound and Bond appears to have hurt his foot.
- Richard Kiel played a very similar character — complete with strange teeth — in the 1976 comedy Silver Streak.
- A similar character to Jaws appears in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. King Bulbin is extremely powerful, wielding one of the most powerful enemy weapons in the game, not flinching when Link damages him with his sword, surviving two falls off a bridge and taking a lot of damage from Link. He doesn't speak until his final fight with Link, after which he switches sides.
- In the animated TV series, Darkwing Duck, Steelbeak, a rooster was inspired by Jaws. His beak, like Jaws' teeth are coated in stainless metal that can tear through anything.