'Casino Royale' director reveals the secret to filming James Bond playing poker

Daniel Craig and Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale (Sony)
Daniel Craig and Mads Mikkelsen in a poker scene in Casino Royale. (Sony)

Casino Royale was an integral movie for the James Bond franchise.

While Pierce Brosnan’s four-film stint as the spy was a financial success, his final two entries, The World Is Not Enough and especially Die Another Day, were met with negative reviews.

So when Daniel Craig was cast as Brosnan’s replacement the decision was quickly made to take Bond in a new direction.

And that’s exactly why Martin Campbell was brought in to direct 2006’s Casino Royale, as he had previously overseen Goldeneye, Brosnan’s critically-acclaimed first outing.

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Campbell has now been discussing his efforts on Casino Royale, telling Polygon that those behind the James Bond franchise “wanted to bring it back to earth” with the film.

“When I came on board, I felt the same way. I felt the whole thing needed to have its feet well and truly on the ground,” he said.

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One of the main plot points of Casino Royale revolves around Bond taking on Mads Mikkelsen’s terrorist financier Le Chiffre at a high-stakes game of poker.

Looking back on these poker sequences, Campbell said that the key to making them “convincing” was that they are not just about “the card games,” adding: “It’s the stakes. It’s also two guys eye-******* one another, basically. That was the secret.”

Mads Mikkelsen, Caterina Murino, Daniel Craig, director Martin Campbell, Ludger Pistor and Veruschka von Lehndorff (Photo by Anita Bugge/WireImage)
Casino Royale's Mads Mikkelsen, Caterina Murino, Daniel Craig, director Martin Campbell, Ludger Pistor and Veruschka von Lehndorff. (Photo by Anita Bugge/WireImage)

Casino Royale’s editor Stuart Baird said that everyone involved was originally worried how they would “keep the audience engaged in those card games,” as they thought that people might quickly become “bored with it”.

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Campbell solved this problem by making sure the film’s 30-minute sequence set in the casino showcased Bond’s mental capability as well as his mortality. This was particularly riveting since Campbell described Craig’s Bond as “a bull in the china shop” throughout Casino Royale, adding: “He just hurls himself no matter what the dangers are, he’s not really thinking.”

Craig’s final appearance as Bond will hopefully hit cinemas next year, as No Time To Die is still scheduled for release in April.