Sometimes actors will take a gig like within the franchise of James Bond movies solely on the strength of the material. Casino Royale star Mads Mikkelsen counts as one such person, as the man who played the dastardly Le Chiffre didn’t know how “big” of a deal 007 was when he landed the part. Even stranger is the fact that he didn’t learn the truth until the London premiere of the 21st Bond film.
Mads Mikkelsen recently spoke at the Zurich Film Festival (via Variety), where he shared a whole bunch of stories about his experience with Casino Royale. Among the tales discussed were the time he left his script on an airplane and how he and Daniel Craig’s torture scene could have been much more brutal. However, there was a new admission the Danish actor made regarding when he scored his part in 00-history:
Considered one of CinemaBlend’s 100 best movies of the 2000s, Daniel Craig’s James Bond origin story is a finely tuned machine. Mads Mikkelsen is no small part of that experience either, as his Le Chiffre is both oddly charming, yet utterly menacing. All in all, he’s a perfect example of a modern Bond villain. That fact makes it all the more surprising — and interesting — to know that Mr. Mikkelsen had a severely limited amount of 007 knowledge to begin with. I must also say, though, a swanky shindig involving the Queen is certainly one way to be alerted to the hype.
Even as a die-hard James Bond fan myself, I have to admit even the most ardent non-fan would know who Richard Kiel’s Jaws is. So at least the fan-favorite actor had that in his pocket when trying out for Casino Royale. Then again, by the time his audition with Martin Campbell arrived, the two-time Bond director had given him the part rather quickly during a very busy day.
Since Mads Mikkelsen went into playing the legendary Ian Fleming antagonist with only the knowledge of Jaws, he was freed of any sort of baggage other actors might’ve entered with. There wasn’t a Blofeld or an Elliot Carver, or any of the best James Bond villains influencing his performance. Le Chiffre was purely Mikkelsen’s interpretation, and making him one of the most well regarded baddies in the 007 legacy seems even more sensical as he really went for it on instinct alone.
Perhaps this is something any future candidates for Bond villains, and even the central role itself, should keep in mind as we march towards Bond 26. While it’s still true that knowledge is power, sometimes feeling things out for yourself leads to even sweeter results. Even if those efforts sometimes need to be reined in by the director, who doesn’t want his spy film struck with an R-rating for extreme torture.
Fans can revisit Casino Royale, and most of the other James Bond films, through the use of a Prime Video subscription. As to when Commander Bond will return to theaters, we’ll have to keep our ears and eyes open for whatever new developments arrive in due time.