Making his 007 debut in 2006’s Casino Royale, actor Daniel Craig had what was possibly one of the most infamous scenes in James Bond history. Tied to a chair and stark naked, Bond finds himself at the whim of the nefarious villain Le Chiffre, played by Another Round actor Mads Mikkelsen. What ensued was a torturous experience where James Bond has his crown jewels whipped by a knotted rope; a scene that, if it were left up to the actors, could have been even more brutal.
Reunited by Variety for a very informative video chat, the Casino Royale co-stars spilled a lot of fun stories from the beginning of Daniel Craig’s reboot arc. But if you’re going to get James Bond and Le Chiffre in the same room, one of two things has to come up: their supposedly laughable poker battle or the ball whipping incident. Both were discussed, with Mads Mikkelsen revealing the process that reined in the madness on the latter:
I do remember we had an extensive conversation with Martin Campbell, and we were like, because we came from rock and roll films, we were just diving into that scene and we came up with so many cool ideas, and Martin was listening and listening, and at a certain point he said, ‘Guys, guys, come back, come back, it’s a Bond film.’ We just left that. We were somewhere else. … It was always a scene that was on the edge. We were never sure if it was going to be in there or not, because it was on the edge for a Bond film.
While the finished scene in Casino Royale apparently was toned down from the extreme energy that Daniel Craig and his iconic co-star were working with, it was still a bit harsher than what the 1953 book intended. For starters, in Ian Fleming’s version of events, Le Chiffre wielded a “cane carpet beater” that he lightly flicked underneath Bond’s chair. But in director Martin Campbell’s second outing meant to introduce a new 007 to the world, he went balls to the chair with a thick, knotted rope.
It was certainly a far cry from Daniel Craig’s first day on the set, kicking ass and taking names. And make no mistake, that Casino Royale scene was actually carried out. Mads Mikkelsen was really whipping Daniel Craig in a chair, just with an added layer of protection. Though as Craig and Mikkelsen waxed nostalgic, it was learned that even that protection had its moment of weakness:
Craig: So I’m sitting in a chair, which had… and I’m naked. … And I had a, I don’t know what it was made of, it was fine and it worked, it was a sort of thing that was the shape of my backside, in the chair. Which I sat in…
Mikkelsen: ...to stop the knot.
Craig: [Mads] was actually swinging that thing right up under the chair, and it was hitting me, the chair, as hard as it sounded. So I kind of had to give over to the fact that this thing wouldn’t break. Because he was swinging the fuck out of it.
Mikkelsen: It did break, a couple times. And it was made out of some plywood, so you got splinters. It was a wonderful day for me—you, maybe not so much! It was a brutal day, obviously. It was eight hours of you screaming your lungs out.
The chair torture in Casino Royale actually exceeds its literary source material when it comes to its cruelty. In Chapter 17, entitled “My Dear Boy,” Le Chiffre’s methods against James Bond’s manhood are more exacting, but still quite painful. That said, the character is described as having a more girthy presence than Mads Mikkelsen’s more svelte and handsome version in the movie. Also, Le Chiffre is smoking and working on a pot of coffee as he works his foe over in a much nicer room than we see in Casino Royale’s film adaptation.
As you’ll see in the scene itself, this Le Chiffre is no frills and all pain, which is an approach that actually helps modernize Ian Fleming’s work into a version that fits the rest of the bells and whistles the film contains. But try not to flinch at the thought of splinters, as you watch that interrogation unfold:
With Daniel Craig getting ready for the fall release of his final James Bond film, No Time To Die, and Mads Mikkelsen talking up the Oscar-nominated film Another Round, we won’t see a shortage of either participant in this discussion. And that might be hysterically complicated by the fact that, after reading the details above, their memorable showdown in Casino Royale won’t easily be shaken from the mind. Of course, the ball’s in their court as to whether or not that story shall persist or if it’ll die down.