2006's Casino Royale was not just the first James Bond film after Pierce Brosnan left the title role, but a dramatic reimagining of what the franchise means in the modern world. The film featured Daniel Craig in his star-making turn as a gritty new version of secret agent 007. Mads Mikkelsen, who played the lead villain Le Chiffre in the film, recently revealed in an interview with Vulture that he and Craig were very enthusiastic about showing the darker side of Bond's adventures, particularly during a scene where Le Chiffre is torturing 007.
"There were a few times when Daniel Craig and I went a little far at the table discussing what the scene might be able to do. It was a scene where I tortured him and he's stripped naked to the chair, which was kind of radical. We've never seen Bond naked, and we've never seen him that fragile, and then obviously there are some undertones with the rope."
The scene in question takes place near the end of the movie. Bond has won the high-stakes poker match, foiling Le Chiffre's attempts to pay off his debts, and forcing the villain to become desperate. Thus, Le Chiffre arranges for Bond to be kidnapped, stripped naked and tied to a chair with its bottom removed, ready for an old-school torture session.
The scene was memorable for taking away the lasers and the futuristic torture devices that previous Bond villains had used. Instead, Le Chiffre swung a heavy, knotted rope under the chair to inflict brutal damage on Bond's nether regions. As uncomfortable as that scene is to watch, Mads Mikkelsen revealed that he and Craig wanted to step things up another notch with some blood-letting as well.
"We were discussing how to approach it. And we just went further out with something that was really brutal and insane...[at one point Le Chiffre] actually cut [Bond] up somewhere, and he had to suffer with that for a while. At a certain point, director Martin Campbell was just smiling and said, 'Boys, come back to the table. This is a Bond film. We can't go there.' We were lost in our indie world, right? You have to respect that. It is a Bond film. That's the framework you need to understand."
At the time that Casino Royale was being made, both Craig and Mikkelsen were best known for their work in experimental, boundary-pushing movies. While a gory torture scene would have been welcome in those kinds of films, this was a James Bond movie, and as Martin Campbell pointed out, there had to be a limit to just how gritty and bloody they could make the franchise.
Fortunately, Casino Royale managed to toe the line between daring and traditional, and became a breakout hit, setting both Craig and Mikkelsen on the path to greater prominence in Hollywood. Now, Craig is getting ready to say goodbye to Bond with one last movie in the series, No Time to Die.
Directed and co-written by Cary Fukunaga, No Time to Die stars Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen, and Rami Malek. The film arrives in theaters on October 8. This news originated at Vulture.