In the book version of “Casino Royale,” Le Chiffre is somewhat of a mystery, with Ian Fleming declining to give the villain too much of a backstory so as to maintain his overall shadiness. There’s certainly no mention of any facial scarring, although Le Chiffre is revealed to have at one point been mute before regaining his speech and becoming the sinister Soviet paymaster he represents in the book.
During the Daniel Craig era of Bond movies, there was all manner of facial scarring, with Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva revealing his deformed visage part-way through “Skyfall” and Christoph Waltz’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld becoming scarred after Bond blew up his desert hideaway in “Spectre”. Even Rami Malek’s Safin, from the divisive “No Time to Die,” had significant facial scarring. These days, having disfigured villains in your movie isn’t advisable, but when “Casino Royale” was in production, that’s exactly what the producers evidently felt they needed.
Unfortunately, without any direction from Fleming’s “Casino Royale,” and with nothing in the script to explain how Le Chiffre sustained his injury, Mikkelsen didn’t have much to go on. In Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman’s book, “Nobody Does it Better,” the actor explained how he developed his own backstory for Le Chiffre:
“I think he was an orphan from Albania or Algiers — somewhere down there — and he had been a street kid until he turned 14 or 15. I am sure he was small, so he carried a pocket knife, and that eventually ended up in his own eye. That is why that scar is there. He has always had this thing with numbers; he played backgammon, and then he becomes a chess player, and then slightly moves into having contact with the Mob.”