This year marks the 70th anniversary of 007, the British spy who first introduced himself to the world as “Bond, James Bond” in author Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel, Casino Royale.
Though a notorious womanizer, there’s always been a queer appeal to Bond that’s drawn in a loyal LGBTQ+ following. Maybe it’s the refined sense of style and swagger? Or maybe it’s the campy gadgets and over-the-top villains?
Despite that, it wasn’t really until Daniel Craig took over the mantle in 2006—coincidentally, in the franchise reboot Casino Royale—that it ever felt like the 007 films had much to say to their gay fans.
We’ll never forget the moment Craig’s Bond emerged from the ocean in a tiny blue swimsuit, showing off his ripped physique and flipping the straight male gaze-catering “Bond Girl” trope on its head.
But just as memorable is a scene later on where the spy is kidnapped by his poker-playing nemesis Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) and comes to his senses completely nude, tied to a chair with the bottom cut out.
The villain proceeds to torture bond by whipping a weighted rope under the chair, repeatedly thwacking it against Bond’s balls each time he refuses to answer a question.
Painful to watch? Oh yes—very. But quite kinky, no? 007 certainly wasn’t enjoying it… though it’s not a stretch to imagine BDSM enthusiasts paying a dominatrix to give them a similar treatment.
We still clench up every time we watch that scene—it’s really stuck with us. And, apparently, it’s stuck with Mikkelsen, too!
The role of Le Chiffre was a major breakthrough for the Danish actor, who previously starred in a number of indies and foreign-language films. But it made him a household name, and he’s gone in to star in NBC’s acclaimed Hannibal series, and pretty much every major franchise there is: the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Harry Potter Fantastic Beasts spin-offs.
While visiting the Zurich Film Festival this past weekend to support his upcoming international feature The Promised Land, Mikkelsen looked back fondly on the role that made his career and gamely revealed that he and Craig almost made the scene in question even kinkier.
Per Variety, the Danish actor recalls that, when the decision to cast Craig as 007 was announced, fans were not thrilled:
“[Back then] he was the new Bond and everything about him was ‘wrong.’ His height, his nose, his hair,” Mikkelsen says, remembering how upset audiences were before they saw what Craig could do with the role. “I think he was glad I also came from indie films. He had a partner in crime.”
Apparently, the two developed such a bond (pun intended) that they had no problem getting adventurous on set. The actor brings up the infamous torture scene, in particular, sharing how the two of them were walking the fine line between pain and pleasure:
“There was this scene where I tickled his balls with a rope,” Mikkelsen shares. “We had so many ideas and the director [Martin Campbell] just looked at us: ‘Guys, come back. It’s a Bond movie’.”
But who says Bond movies can’t get a little homoerotic?
After all, it was only a few years later—in the well-reviewed Skyfall—that Craig’s Bond has a tense, sexually charged showdown with the flamboyant villain Silva (Javier Bardem) in which the spy slyly references the fact that he might have slept with men before.
Anyway, we’re just thrilled to hear Mikkelsen and Craig had no problem finally leaning into the lingering queerness that’s been part of the 007 ethos since the very beginning.
And, who knows? We’re still waiting to hear which actor will be stepping into Bond’s shoes next—maybe they’ll find someone with no qualms about doing away with the homoerotic subtext and just making him the flaming international man of mystery we’ve always wanted him to be!