In the Entertainment Weekly Interview, Debbie McWilliams, the casting director of “Casino Royale”, explains that originally, the studio had another actor in mind to embody The Number. When they couldn’t lock this actor in for the role, they had to switch gears.
“You always have to have your eyes open in case you have to replace someone, which has happened many, many times. I had been following Mads Mikkelsen for quite a while and had seen him in a few Danish films and I was really impressed with his I had kept an eye on him even though in my opinion he wasn’t quite right for the part because La Cipher by his own name is supposed to be French, but once that our French actor wasn’t going to be cast, we were in Prague and by pure chance Mads Mikkelsen was too, so I grabbed him and brought him in.”
According to a interview with IGN in 2005, even Mikkelsen didn’t know he was the replacement. Despite his last-minute casting, Mikkelsen absolutely nailed the role, bringing an energy to the role that truly made him look like Bond.
I’m sure this sort of thing happens a lot, where actors are unable to play a part and get fired at the last minute. This raises many questions as to what the movie would be like if the anonymous French actor they wanted to play Le Chiffre had agreed. For me, Mikkelsen as Le Cipher is just as vital to the film as Craig as Bond. It’s an interesting thought exercise, but considering how great ‘Casino Royale‘ is, I think we should all be grateful that it came across Mikkelsen.