Mads Mikkelsen's Casino Royale Casting All Came Down To Location

When Daniel Craig first stepped into the role of James Bond, everybody involved knew he had big shoes to fill. Taking on a role that had been defined by legendary actors like Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan wasn't a task to be taken lightly. Craig learned that quickly, getting hurt a few times on the set of his first film as the British superspy, "Casino Royale." If people were going to accept him as the new Bond, Craig was going to do a great job, even if that meant doing his own stunts.

It was a blessing for Craig, then, that Mads Mikkelsen was ultimately casted to be his first archnemesis of his run as Bond. Mikkelsen played the calculating financier, Le Chiffre, who takes Bond on in an extremely high stakes game of poker.

Mikkelsen brought a presence and suavity to the role that made him a great foil to Craig's Bond, who is clearly used to being the coolest man in the room. The dynamic between the two was vital to the critical success of "Casino Royale," and is likely part of the reason Craig got off to such a strong start in his new role.

More than 15 years later, it's hard to imagine anyone but Mikkelsen in the role. However, according to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mikkelsen wasn't the casting director's original choice for the role of Le Chiffre. He just happened to be in Prague at the right time and got cast largely because of that coincidence.

The right place at the right time

In the Entertainment Weekly interview, Debbie McWilliams, the casting director for "Casino Royale," says that originally the studio had another actor in mind to portray Le Chiffre. When they weren't able to lock that actor down for the part, they had to shift gears.

"You always have to have your eyes open in case you have to replace somebody, which has happened many, many times. I had been monitoring Mads Mikkelsen for quite a while and had seen him in a few Danish films and was really impressed with his versatility. I'd kept my eye on him although, to my mind, he wasn't entirely right for the part because La Chiffre by his own name is meant to be French, but once our French actor was not going to be cast, we were in Prague and by pure chance so was Mads Mikkelsen and so I grabbed him and got him in."

According to an interview with IGN in 2005, not even Mikkelsen knew that he was the replacement. Despite his last-minute casting, Mikkelsen absolutely nailed the part, bringing an energy to the part that truly made him seem like an equal to Bond.

I'm sure this sort of thing happens a lot, where actors are unable to take on a part and are switched out at the last minute. It raises lots of questions as to what the movie would be like if the unnamed French actor they wanted to play Le Chiffre had agreed. To me, Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre is just as vital to the film as Craig as Bond. It's an interesting thought exercise, but considering how awesome "Casino Royale" is, I think we should all be thankful it fell to Mikkelsen.