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Mads Mikkelsen

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As villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, 41, finances terrorists, tortures 007 and has an eye that drips blood. But don’t hate him just because he’s eeevil. Over a Belgian beer with PEOPLE’s Natasha Stoynoff, the real-life family man (to wife Hanne and kids Viola, 14, and Carl, 9) talked about poker, cross-dressing and why he took the role: “My son would have killed me if I didn’t.”

• First off, how do you pronounce your name?

Like “mass,” no D. It used to be an old-fashioned farmer’s name, but it’s become popular again.

• Poor Bond. You strip him, you whip him with a rope … you’re bad.

And I enjoyed doing it. But once in a while I’d hear Daniel [Craig] scream [for real], and that meant, Uh-oh, I better take one step back.

• Usually you’re the one getting busted up in movies.

I’ve had a very nice career getting hurt in action films. I’ve broken a couple of ribs and fingers, gotten a few concussions. But that’s the name of the game.

• Women adore onscreen bad guys.

It’s unfair. If you do something wrong in a relationship, girls hate it. But if they watch a naughty boy on film, they love it.

• So your wife loves your naughty side?

We met doing La Cage aux Folles. She was a dancer, and I was dressed up as a woman in the show. I guess she found me attractive in that dress.

• She’s not alone. Magazines have called you the sexiest man in Denmark.

It’s better than being voted the most ugly man in the world.

• Do you have a favorite Bond villain?

Jaws [Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker]. Because he was so enormous and I was so small and he scared the s—outta me.

• We hear the cast and crew on this film were scared of you too. Why?

We played a lot of poker. One night I won with a royal straight flush—all hearts. I went to bed almost crying, knowing it would never happen again. Everyone was so p——at me because they lost their per diems [allowances].

• You beat Bond! How?

Daniel smiles when he’s got a good hand.