Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen has become a stalwart in playing complex villains in blockbuster films. He has been featured in the MCU as Kaecillius in Doctor Strange, Gillert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, and Jürgen Voller in the recent Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
However, his taste for mainstream villainy started in the James Bond film Casino Royale. The first film of Daniel Craig’s iteration of the character, the film was a rousing hit and one of the most delicious parts of the espionage action film was Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre. The actor reportedly had to come up with his own backstory for his infamous eye scar as there was no information about it in the script or Ian Fleming’s novel, which was the basis for the film.
Production And Development Of Casino Royale
Casino Royale was writer Ian Fleming’s first novel that introduced the world to Agent 007. Though it was the first novel, Eon Productions chose to start the film franchise with Dr. No and the novel was adapted as a television episode as well as a non-canon comedy film. While MGM hoped to make the film with the previous Bond – Pierce Brosnan, it only materialized after his departure and was chosen to be the first film for Daniel Craig as James Bond.
Screenwriter Paul Haggis was brought on board to do some rewrites by director Martin Campbell. Haggis mentioned that he wanted to give the Batman Begins treatment to James Bond, making him more serious as the Brosnan films had veered into the campy territory. Casino Royale is known for its faithfulness to the source material, a contribution from the initial screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.
While Craig was already cast as James Bond, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen and actress Eva Green were cast as the antagonist and the ‘Bond girl’, Vesper Lynd for the film. The film opened to universal acclaim and was loved by critics and audiences alike despite the initial backlash over Craig’s casting. The film earned $616 million at the box office.
Mads Mikkelsen As Le Chiffre In Casino Royale
While Daniel Craig proved his naysayers wrong with his phenomenal performance as James Bond in Casino Royale, another breakout star of the film was Mads Mikkelsen, who played the antagonist Le Chiffre. Chiffre is a banker for known terrorists and is a partner of the shadow organization SPECTRE. He is known to be a genius at mathematics and an expert in poker.
One of the defining characteristics of Mikkelsen’s Le Chifre is his signature eye scar and his tears of blood. The detail was added specially for the film and was not present in Ian Fleming’s novel. The scar gave Mikkelsen a menacing quality while also indicating that the character had undergone something traumatic. Every Bond villain since has had some scar or a wound.
Mads Mikkelsen reportedly had nothing to bounce off of when it came to the scar. The source material did not have the scar in the description of the character, making him more mysterious. The screenwriters did not give any back-story to the scar in the script and was only added as a small detail. Hence, Mikkelsen decided to come up with his own back story to get into the character better. He said in the book Nobody Does It Better,
“I think he was an orphan from Albania or Algiers — somewhere down there — and he had been a street kid until he turned 14 or 15. I am sure he was small, so he carried a pocket knife, and that eventually ended up in his own eye. That is why that scar is there. He has always had this thing with numbers; he played backgammon, and then he becomes a chess player, and then slightly moves into having contact with the Mob.”
The back-story seems to have worked as Mikkelsen’s performance as Le Chiffre has gone down in cinema history as one of the best villain portrayals and has paved the way for the actor to appear in antagonist roles in other blockbuster productions as well.
Source: Nobody Does It Better