After some casting controversy surrounding “Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig as their new James Bond, Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, and Martin Campbell were free to introduce a more tortured, rugged version of England’s greatest spy. Craig at once brought brawn and vulnerability to the role, reinvigorating the character for a whole new generation. Shame he couldn’t play poker though.
The Texas Hold’em game is really the centerpiece of “Casino Royale,” pitting Craig’s Bond against Mads Mikkelsen’s banker to the world’s criminals Le Chiffre. The game involves ten players, including Bond, Le Chiffre, and Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter competing for a $115 million pot. In order to make sure their actors looked like they knew what they were doing, the producers actually started a “poker school,” designed to train the players enough to make it at least look like they were all pros.
But despite all the prep work that went into this pivotal scene, actually shooting it was somewhat of an ordeal. In a behind-the-scenes featurette, director Martin Campbell stepped away from the set to deliver this report, “I have to say it’s a proverbial nightmare because it’s poker and there are ten people around a table and they’ve all got hands and they’re all playing cards and it’s very difficult.” Continuity was a big problem, too, with the crew having to ensure the number of cards and chips in front of each player stayed consistent between takes. And on top of that, James Bond himself was pretty much clueless when it came to actually playing Poker.