Le Chiffre

Le Chiffre is a fictional character and the main antagonist in Ian Fleming's James Bond novel Casino Royale. On screen Le Chiffre has been portrayed by Peter Lorre in the 1954 television adaptation of the novel for CBS's Climax! television series, by Orson Welles in the 1967 spoof of the novel and Bond film series, and by Mads Mikkelsen in the 2006 film version of Fleming's novel.

In French, le chiffre means "the figure" (i.e. "the number") or "the cipher." Fleming based the character on occultist Aleister Crowley.

Novel bio

Le Chiffre, alias "Die Nummer", "Mr. Number", "Herr Ziffer", "Ochiu Spart" and other translations of "The Number" or "The Cipher" in various languages; is the paymaster of the "Syndicat des Ouvriers d'Alsace" (French for "Syndicate of the Alsatian Workmen"), a SMERSH-controlled trade union.

He is first encountered as an inmate of the Dachau displaced persons camp in the U.S. zone of Germany in June 1945 and transferred to Alsace-Lorraine and Strasbourg three months later on a stateless passport. There he adopts the name Le Chiffre because as he claims, he is 'only a number on a passport'. Not much else is really known about Le Chiffre's background or where he comes from, except for educated guesses based on his description.

He is also fluent in French, English, and German with traces of an Occitan accent.

In the novel, he makes a major investment in a string of brothels with money belonging to SMERSH. The investment fails after a bill is signed into law banning prostitution. Le Chiffre then goes to the casino Royale-les-Eaux in an attempt to recover all of his lost funds. There however, Bond bankrupts him in a series of games in Chemin de Fer. Le Chiffre kidnaps Bond's assistant, Vesper Lynd, to lure him into a trap and get his money back. The trap works, and Le Chiffre tortures Bond by striking his testicles with a 3-foot long carpet beater to force him to reveal where he has hidden the money. Upon determining, however, that Bond will not give in to torture, Le Chiffre produces a knife with the implied purpose of castrating Bond. He is interrupted by a SMERSH agent, however, who shoots him between the eyes as punishment for losing the money. The torture Bond suffers at the hands of Le Chiffre briefly upsets 007's confidence in his profession, and he toys with the idea of leaving the service until the novel's conclusion, when a new threat emerges.

Le Chiffre's death is seen by the Soviet government as an embarrassment, which in addition to the death and defeat of Mr. Big in Live and Let Die, leads to the events of From Russia with Love. In the novel SMERSH attempts to get revenge by killing Bond in an elaborate plot that would embarrass the British Secret Service within the intelligence community.


  • Tall, thin man named only Basil - bodyguard and an expert in martial arts who takes pleasure in roughing up Bond. He is later killed by a SMERSH agent.
  • Kratt, short, Corsican man - bodyguard of Le Chiffre and wielder of a walking-stick gun that he threatens to cripple Bond with at the gaming table. He is later killed by a SMERSH agent.

1967 film biography

Le Chiffre is a secondary villain in the 1967 satire and appears in the only segment of the film actually adapted from Fleming's book. Similar to the novel, Le Chiffre is charged with recovering a large sum of money for SMERSH after he loses it at the baccarat table. He first attempts to raise the funds by holding an auction of embarrassing photographs of military and political leaders from China, the US and the USSR, but this is foiled by Sir James Bond's daughter, Mata Bond. With no other option, he returns to the baccarat table to try and win back the money. Later, he encounters Baccarat Master Evelyn Tremble, who has been recruited by Bond to stop Le Chiffre from raising the money. Le Chiffre attempts to distract Tremble by performing elaborate magic tricks, but fails to prevent Tremble from winning. Afterwards, he arranges for Tremble to be kidnapped and subjects the agent to psychedelic torture in order to get back the money. The torture session is interrupted when his SMERSH masters headed by the film's main villain, Dr. Noah, shoot him dead.

2006 film biography

Le Chiffre is the main villain of the official 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale, portrayed by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. He uses a platinum, benzedrine inhaler. He suffers from Haemolacria, which causes him to weep blood. A banker for various terrorists, he uses Alex Dimitrios, a government contractor, as a middle-man for many of his jobs. Believed by MI6 to be born in Albania, Le Chiffre is a mathematical genius and a chess prodigy. His abilities enable him to earn large sums of money on games of chance and probabilities, and he likes to show off by playing poker (even though he has what at first appears to be an obvious tell, though it is later implied that this is a trick to fool Bond into becoming overconfident). To date he is the first main Bond villain to die before the film's final act.


Le Chiffre is contacted by Mr. White, who is a representative of a terrorist organization later revealed to be Quantum. White introduces Steven Obanno, a feared leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda to Le Chiffre, and arranges to bank several briefcases full of cash for Obanno. Le Chiffre invests the money along with his other creditors' money in the aircraft manufacturer SkyFleet. Though SkyFleet's shares have been skyrocketing, he plans to short the company by purchasing put options, and ordering the destruction of the company's new prototype airliner, set to make its first flight out of Miami International Airport. Bond intervenes and foils the plan, costing Le Chiffre his entire investment totaling US$101,206,000.


In order to win the money back, while not informing Mr. White or Obanno, Le Chiffre sets up and enters a high stakes Texas hold 'em tournament in Montenegro at the Casino Royale in an attempt to recoup the loss before Obanno learns that his money has been misappropriated. Bond is sent to make sure that Le Chiffre does not win back the money. The reasoning is to force Le Chiffre to turn to MI6 for protection, in exchange for information on his creditors and employers. Bond plants a listening device in Le Chiffre's inhaler shortly after the tournament begins.

During the tournament, an enraged Obanno and one of his henchmen break into Le Chiffre's hotel room and threaten him and his girlfriend, Valenka. Le Chiffre does not blanch at the threatened amputation of Valenka and is granted one last chance to win their money back.

As Obanno leaves the room, his bodyguard spots Bond and hears Valenka's cries coming from Bond's earpiece. In the subsequent brawl, 007 kills both Obanno and his henchman, and Rene Mathis arranges the blame to be placed on Le Chiffre's bodyguard Leo.

During the tense tournament, Le Chiffre initially outwits and bankrupts Bond, who cannot get additional funding from Vesper Lynd. However, Felix Leiter agrees to bankroll Bond, and so Le Chiffre has Valenka attempt to poison Bond's drink. Bond is almost killed but is revived at the last moment and returns to the game. During the final round, Le Chiffre's full house bests the hands of the two players preceding him but loses to Bond's straight flush.


Enraged by his loss, he kidnaps Vesper Lynd forcing Bond to give chase, and Bond is led straight into his trap. Le Chiffre leaves Vesper, bound at the feet and hands, in the middle of the road, and Bond is forced to swerve and he subsequently crashes his car.

When Bond regains consciousness he is stripped and tied to a chair. Le Chiffre stands right in front of the chair and sarcastically says to Bond "You've taken good care of your body... such a waste." Le Chiffre proceeds to torture Bond by repeatedly striking him in the testicles with the large knotted end of a thick rope, trying to extort the password that will enable Le Chiffre to collect the tournament winnings. Bond refuses to give in and plays on Le Chiffre's fear that there will be retribution from the clients whose money he lost. An enraged Le Chiffre brandishes a knife and threatens to castrate Bond.

This is interrupted by the sound of gunshots and Mr. White suddenly enters the room. Le Chiffre makes a final plea for his life but it is to no avail. Mr. White says "money isn't as valuable to our organization as knowing who to trust" (Le Chiffre's fate was perhaps sealed by angering Obanno as this hurt the reputation of Mr. White's employer), and personally "executes" Le Chiffre by shooting him in the forehead with a Walther PPK fitted with a suppressor.


  • Alex Dimitrios
  • Carlos
  • Mollaka
  • Leo
  • Bobbie
  • Jochum
  • Kratt
  • Valenka

See also


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