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Villain Overview

You know, I never understood all these elaborate tortures. It's the simplest thing to cause more pain than a man can possibly endure. And of course, it's not only the immediate agony, but the knowledge that if you do not yield soon enough, there will be little left to identify you as a man. The only question remains: will you yield, in time?
~ Le Chiffre's most famous quote as he tortures James Bond.

Le Chiffre is the main antagonist of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, Casino Royale and all of its adaptations.

He is also a major antagonist in the rebooted James Bond film series, being the main antagonist in the first installment Casino Royale, and a posthumous antagonist in both Quantum of Solace and Spectre. His alias is French for "The Cipher" or "The Number". Ian Fleming based the character on Aleister Crowley.

In the novel, he is the paymaster of a French trade union secretly controlled by the Soviet agency SMERSH. In the 2006 film, Le Chiffre is Albanian by birth (though officially stateless), and his one notable physical feature was a defective tear duct, which causes him to cry blood. He works for a mysterious group called Quantum, and finances terrorist groups by buying company stocks with his client's money and forcing stock market shifts through terrorist acts. It is implied by M that he profited from the September 11 terrorist attacks. The video game adaptation of Quantum of Solace gives him the birth name Jean Duran.

In the 1954 television adaptation, he was portrayed by the late Peter Lorre, who also played Hans Beckert in M, Signor Ugarte in Casablanca, and Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon. In the 1967 film, he was portrayed by the late Orson Welles, who also played Franz Kindler in The Stranger, Harry Lime in The Third Man, Nag in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil. In the 2006 film, he was portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, who also played Captain Rochefort in The Three Musketeers, David Prentiss in Chaos Walking, Hannibal Lecter in the NBC television series Hannibal, Cliff Unger in Death Stranding, Chick Hicks in the Danish version of Cars, Randall Boggs in the Danish version of Monster's Inc., and Kaecilius in Doctor Strange.

Biography

Novel

Le Chiffre was originally found an amnesiac mute in the Dachau displaced persons camp in the US zone of Germany in 1945. He regained the ability to speak before being transferred to Alsace-Lorraine and Strasburg 3 months later with a stateless passport. He adopted his moniker as he considered himself "only a number on a passport". His background and nationality are unknown apart from educated guesses based on his description.

Le Chiffre is the paymaster of Syndicat des Ouvriers d'Alsace (Alsatian Workmen's Union), a trade union run by SMERSH. He makes a major investment into a string of brothels with SMERSH's money, which ends badly after prostitution is banned. In order to reclaim his lost funds, Le Chiffre travels to Royale-les-Eaux and hosts a high stakes baccarat game with the goal of earning 50,000,000 francs. Secret Service agent James Bond is sent to take part in the game and bankrupt Le Chiffre, forcing him to turn to MI6 for protection. Things do not bode well for 007 when Le Chiffre manages to clean Bond out of his funds, but CIA agent Felix Leiter gives him 32,000,000 francs, putting Bond back in the game. Despite the fact that one of Le Chiffre's henchman attempts to kill Bond, Bond wins the game and costs Le Chiffre 80,000,000 francs belonging to SMERSH.

In a desperate attempt to get the money back, Le Chiffre kidnaps Bond and his love interest, Vesper Lynd, and subjects the former to torture, threatening to kill them both if he is not told the location of the money. When he realizes that Bond will not talk, Le Chiffre prepares to castrate him, only to suddenly be shot by a SMERSH agent as punishment for his failure.

Films

Casino Royale

Le Chiffre's first scheme presented in the movie is an attempt to make money for Quantum by investing $101,206,000 that Lord's Resistance Army member Steven Obanno had entrusted to him by investing it in an airline company called SkyFleet. He plans to gamble on the stock by purchasing put options and then ordering the destruction of their new prototype plane. Bond foils the plot, however, and Le Chiffre loses his total investment. Le Chiffre sets up a high stakes Texas Hold 'em poker tournament at a casino in the Balkan nation of Montenegro to win the money back.

MI6, who knows Le Chiffre is funding terrorism but cannot prove it, dispatches Bond to Montenegro to compete in the exclusive tournament; his mission is to win the tournament and bankrupt Le Chiffre completely, after which MI6 would offer him asylum from his clients in exchange for information on them. Le Chiffre arrives in Montenegro and bribes the police chief to protect him. The police chief is exposed as corrupt by MI6 Agent Rene Mathis, costing Le Chiffre his official protection. Le Chiffre later meets Bond, who is using the alias Mr Beach. However, Le Chiffre learns who Bond really is after the Swiss banker Mr. Mendel asks that Bond put a password into an encryption.

During a break in the game, Obanno threatens to kill Le Chiffre and his girlfriend Valenka for losing the LRA's money, but Le Chiffre swears he will win it back. (Bond later kills Obanno, taking some of the pressure off Le Chiffre.)

When the game resumes, Le Chiffre has Valenka poison Bond's drink. However, British Treasury agent Vesper Lynd revives Bond with a defibrillator, and he returns to the game and defeats Le Chiffre, taking all of his money.

In a last act of desperation, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper, presumably unaware that she is in fact a reluctant double agent for Quantum. Bond pursues them only to be captured himself, and Le Chiffre tries to get the password from him; when Bond refuses, Le Chiffe tortures him by whipping him in the testicles with a knotted rope. Bond refuses to give in, taunting Le Chiffre that his clients will hunt him down and kill him for losing their money. However, Le Chiffre gloats that even if he kills Bond and Vesper, MI6 would still grant him asylum in return for information on his clients, declaring that he will win either way. Bond still refuses to give in, so Le Chiffre threatens to castrate him. At that moment, however, Mr. White, Le Chiffre's immediate superior in Quantum, breaks into the room and shoots Le Chiffre in the head because he can no longer be trusted, killing Le Chiffre and sparing Bond.

It eventually turns out that Mr. White only executed Le Chiffre as part of a deal he made with Vesper, who used Bond's password to obtain the casino winnings for Mr. White. However, this resulted Vesper's death as she drowns following a scuffle between Bond and several of Quantum's spies sent to obtain the money, allowing Mr. White to make a clean getaway with the money, though he ends up being caught and arrested by Bond.

Spectre

In the film, it is revealed that Quantum was a subsidiary of SPECTRE, making Le Chiffre an agent of the latter organization. It also turns out that Le Chiffre was nothing but a pawn alongside Mr. White, Dominic Greene and Raoul Silva, all of them used by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (the leader of SPECTRE) as part of a long-term plan to control all the classified information in the world and inflict pain upon Bond, his former foster brother. It also turns out that Blofeld was the one who ordered Mr. White to kill Le Chiffre and his cohorts as punishment for their failure and as part of the plan to obtain the casino winnings, thus he is responsible for Vesper's death.

Trivia

  • Le Chiffre has bichromatic eyes (his right eye is brown, his left eye is blue). This could be attributed to the injury that he sustained in his left eye.
    • How Le Chiffre got his left eye injured is never explained in the film, but Mads Mikkelsen conceived up a backstory of how Le Chiffre got it: in Mikkelsen's mind, Le Chiffre grew up in Eastern Europe in a harsh neighbourhood and became a teenage criminal by using his mathematical genius to win at gambling, making a lot of money. However, he always carried a knife to defend himself due to being weak in comparison to other kids and once got in a fight that caused his left eye to be damaged with his knife.
  • Le Chiffre is the first (and so far, the only) James Bond villain to die before the climax.
  • Despite being one of the most formidable foes that Bond’s ever faced, he never actually directly kills anyone throughout the entire film.

External Links

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SMERSH
Auric Goldfinger | Mr. Big | Le Chiffre | Krilencu

SPECTRE
Ernst Stavro Blofeld | Dr. Julius No | R.J. Dent | Three Blind Mice | Miss Taro | Annabel Chung | Rosa Klebb | Tov Kronsteen | Red Grant | Morzeny | Rhoda | Emilio Largo | Fiona Volpe | Count Lippe | Angelo Palazzi | Colonel Jacques Bouvar | Vargas | Ricardo | Mr. Osato | Helga Brandt | Hans | Irma Bunt | Grunther | Braun | Felsen | Josef | Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd | Bambi and Thumper | Maximillian Largo | Fatima Blush

Auric Enterprises
Auric Goldfinger | Oddjob | Pussy Galore | Kisch | Mr. Ling | Mr. Solo | Jed Midnight | Jack Strap

Flying Circus
Pussy Galore | Denise | Sydney

San Monique
Dr. Kananga | Tee Hee | Baron Samedi | Adam | Whisper | Dambala | Rosie Carver | Leroy

Hai Fat Industries
Hai Fat | Francisco Scaramanga | Nick Nack | Kra

Stromberg Shipping Line
Karl Stromberg | Jaws | Liparus Captain | Liparus Crew | Naomi | Sandor | Professor Markovitz | Dr. Bechmann

Drax Industries
Hugo Drax | Jaws | Chang

Octopus Cult
Kamal Khan | General Orlov | Octopussy | Gobinda | Mischka and Grischka | Magda

Zorin Industries
Max Zorin | Scarpine | Hans Glaub | May Day | Jenny Flex | Pan Ho | Bob Conley

Wavekrest Marine Research
Franz Sanchez | Milton Krest | Colonel Heller | Dario | Ed Killifer | Joe Butcher | Perez | Braun | Clive

Janus Syndicate
Alec Trevelyan | Xenia Onatopp | Arkady Ourumov | Boris Grishenko

Carver Media Group Network
Elliot Carver | Richard Stamper | General Chang | Henry Gupta | Captain Scott | Stealth Ship Crew | Dr. Kaufman | Timblin | Satoshi Isagura | Jeff Hobbs | Philip Jones | Tom Wallace | Mary Golson | Beth Davidson | Tamara Steel

King Industries
Elektra King | Renard | Gabor | Sasha Davidov | Mr. Bullion | Giulietta da Vinci | Mikhail Arkov | Trukhin | Lachaise

Graves Corporation
Gustav Graves | Miranda Frost | Tang Lin Zao | Vladmir Popov | Mr. Kil | Dr. Alvarez | General Han | General Li | General Dong | Van Bierk

Quantum/Spectre
Ernst Stavro Blofeld | Mr. White | Le Chiffre | Steven Obanno | Vesper Lynd | Alex Dimitrios | Adolph Gettler | Dryden | Valenka | Kratt | Mollaka Danso | Carlos Nikolic | Leo | Fisher | Dominic Greene | General Medrano | Colonel Carlos | Gregg Beam | Elvis | Lieutenant Orso | Craig Mitchell | Yusef Kabira | Guy Haines | Edmund Slate | Marchetti Pilot | Gregor Karakov | Moishe Soref | Raoul Silva | Patrice | Severine | Boat Captain | Max Denbigh | Mr. Hinx | Marco Sciarra | Moreau | Dr. Vogel | Guerra | Abrika | Marshall | Valerian | Lorenzo | Gallo | Francesco and Marco | Primo

Greene Planet
Dominic Greene | Elvis | Edmund Slate

The Union
Taylor Michael Harris | Le Gérant

Malprave Industries
Adrian Malprave | Nigel Bloch

Phoenix International
Rafael Drake | Kiko Hayashi | Armitage Rook | Ninja

Volotech
Nikolai Diavolo | Katya Nadanova | Arkady Yayakov

Others
Dr. Noah | Capungo | Aris Kristatos | Emile Locque | Erich Kriegler | Hector Gonzales | Claus | Apostis | General Georgi Koskov | Brad Whitaker | Necros | Colonel Feyador | Impostor 00 | Lyutsifer Safin | Valdo Obruchev | Logan Ash | Wint & Kidd | Sluggsy & Horror | Mr. Sanguinetti | Trigger | Anton Murik | Caber | Franco Quesocriado | Nena Bismaquer | Markus Bismaquer | Walter Luxor | Konrad von Glöda | Rivke Ingber | Koyla Mosolov | Tamil Rahani | Jay Autem Holy | Steve Quinn | Doktor Kirchtum | Nannie Norrich | Konstantin Chernov | Heather Dare | Norman Murray | Vladimir Scorpius | David Dragonpol | Maxwell Tarn | Felicity Willing | Severan Hydt | Niall Dunne | Mahdi al-Fulan | Nicholas Rathko | Dr. Perseus Friend | Count Ugo Carnifex | El Huracán | John Charnage | Colonel Irina Sedova | Ludwig Smith | Wolfgang Smith | Anton Kostler | Konstantin Grünner | Andrei Karachan | Adam Elmhirst | Zoltan the Magyar

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