t's hard enough being the villain in a Bond film, never mind being one in the most-anticipated 007 flick in years, but Mads Mikkelsen is relishing the opportunity. Tribute's Bonnie Laufer-Krebs spoke to Mikkelsen (King Arthur), who plays a gambling terrorist financier named Le Chiffre, about his role, his co-star Daniel Craig and being the Sexiest "Dane" alive.

How excited were you when you found out that you would be playing the villain, Le Chiffre, in Casino Royale?
I'm the baddie, yeah. It was truly amazing. It was really fun for me, first of all because one of my best friends played the villain "Little Finger" in one of the Bond films so he was the first guy I called to say that I got the role. I got to rub it in that now I was the bad guy and he hated it!

There were so many actors in the running for Bond, but from what we have already seen, it looks like he was the right choice.
I am telling you here and now, he is perfect! I can see Daniel carrying on the Bond legacy for many more years.

How did you like working with him?

He's been around for so many years, so he knows what he is doing. Plus the guy is in his late 30s, so he's not a rising star who will get caught up in the hype and trust me, he is going to be enormous after this opens. He's looking at it as work. I think that he is going to be perfect; he is going to be "THE" Bond, definitely.

I can't even imagine the pressure put upon Daniel Craig to deliver the goods.
It's almost like having a new president. Everybody's got an opinion of him and even more so this time around because he was blond. That was a big problem. I don't know how he dealt with that.

I don't want you to tell me too much about the film, but can you fill us in on your character Le Chiffre?
Well, as far as bad guys go, I'm the main guy in the sense that I am running my own show. Of course, there are other people around who have their own agenda. I think, the parallel between Bond and Le Chiffre is that Bond might have second thoughts about what his place in the world is, what he really wants to do. Le Chiffre has none. He knows exactly what he's doing, and if Bond learns anything from Le Chiffre, it's that we have bad guys out there.

So, how "bad" are you?
I'm pretty bad. I'm not a mad scientist. I'm not taking over the world or anything but I'm in it for the money. Le Chiffre is a cynic and pretty sneaky. The whole thing is slightly more realistic. We've tried to bring James Bond into 2006, but I still have a strange eye and he's still Bond, but slightly more greedy.

I always think that it must be so much more fun for an actor to really let loose and play bad.
Yes, it's always fun to play the bad guy but I have to say that Bond is also bad. He's one of the interesting good guys, you know. He's got his dilemma; he's not doing the right thing all the time. So we've got two bad guys in this film.

Did you have to prepare in any way to play Le Chiffre?
I had to learn how to look like a real poker player. There is an art to it you know, handling your chips, handling your cards, handling your bluffs. The way you just sit at a table. Just hang out at a casino and watch professional card players, it's amazing what you can learn.

You've been named the "Sexiest Man Alive" in Denmark for the last 10 years. How do you deal with that status?
What can I say? I have to live with it. Seriously though, I deal pretty easily with it. I became an actor when I was 30 and I became fairly famous in Denmark when I was 35. The day before I became "famous" I was not hot; I was not sexy in anybody's eyes so I know how to handle these things. I mean its very flattering, but when you become famous you get those titles. If I was 17 I might look at it in a different way or have a problem with it, but now I take it with a grain of salt.

Are you interested in other big Hollywood franchise-type movies or are you happy doing smaller budget movies back home?
I'll take whatever work comes my way. When I was a kid, my favorite movies to watch were James Bond films, so being in this movie is a huge thrill for me. I love being in these big films but I would also love to be part of the independent, low-budget films so I don't think I have to choose at all. If I can do both I'm happy.