The gritty and serious reboot has long since become passe, but just a year after Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins had kickstarted the trend that would last for well over a decade, James Bond got in on the action with Casino Royale.
Following the relatively disappointing Die Another Day in 2002, which was the highest-grossing 007 outing yet but came perilously close to jumping the shark, the franchise needed to rip up the playbook and start again from scratch. Having already reinvented Bond to great acclaim once before with Goldeneye, Martin Campbell was the ideal candidate to see if he could make lightning strike twice, and he definitely did.
By the end of Casino Royale‘s black-and-white prologue, the movie had set out its stall as a globetrotting espionage blockbuster unlike anything the long-running series had seen before, with Daniel Craig instantly assuaging any doubts about his suitability for the title role in a bruising opening sequence that made it clear that this version of cinema’s most famous spy boasted much harder edges than his predecessors.
One of the most wince-inducing moments in Casino Royale is the torture scene, where Bond finds himself and his nads at the mercy of Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre. In a new interview, the actor revealed that he and Craig actually ended up getting lost in the moment and taking things down a continually darker and more violent path before their director was forced to remind them what they were working on.
“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.
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.”
It’s definitely one of the most brutal scenes we’ve ever seen in any Bond effort regardless of Casino Royale‘s PG-13 rating, but it could have turned out a lot worse if the actors had gotten their way.