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Mads Mikkelsen’s James Bond role nearly cost him his career

Mads Mikkelsen's Hollywood stardom began with James Bond's Casino Royale, but his career was almost over before it began due to his careless actions on a plane.

Mads Mikkelsen in James Bond movie Casino Royale

Mad Mikkelsen had already been working for a decade before landing his Hollywood break-through role in the first Daniel Craig James Bond movie – Casino Royale, in 2006. But his Hollywood career was almost over before it began, because he committed an absolute no-no with the Casino Royale script.

Mikkelsen had made an impact with his first-ever film, 1996’s Pusher, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. But 2006 was definitely his break-through year – with Suanne Bier’s After the Wedding, and co-starring with Alexander Skarsgard in the Swedish film Exit. Mikkelsen was obviously not familiar with the huge pressure that comes with a franchise on the scale of James Bond. In fact, he’d never seen a Bond movie.

When stars of secretive productions such as Marvel movies or the biggest and best action movies are given their scripts, their name is printed on each page – so if the script goes missing, is copied, or turns up online – the studio knows where it came from. As Mikkelsen recently told a shocked audience at Zurich Film Festival (via Variety); “Casino Royale was the first screenplay with my name on every single page. Which also means that if you lose it, it’s on you.”

Mikkelsen explained; “I got on a plane, started to read it and I fell asleep. Then I got out and just left it there. I was lucky some cleaning person threw it away and didn’t know what it was. That could have been the end of my career, right then.”

“I had never watched a Bond movie up to that point and of course I lied about it. I only knew that guy with metal teeth [Jaws]. I didn’t realize how big it was until we had the premiere in London and had to meet the Queen. Or she had to meet us.” It sounds as though Mikkelsen needs our guide to the James Bond movies in order.

Daniel Craig was the new Bond and everything about him was ‘wrong.’ His height, his nose, his hair. I think he was glad I also came from indie films. He had a partner in crime. There was this scene where I tickled his balls with a rope. We had so many ideas and the director just looked at us: ‘Guys, come back. It’s a Bond movie.'”

Since Casino Royale, Mikkelsen has become king of the franchises – appearing in the MCU, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones movies. We hope that he’s more careful with his scripts these days.

For more suave sleuths, check out our guide to the best spy movies and the best detective movies.