Mads Mikkelsen Source
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Jun 17, 2013   Leave a Comment Articles/Interviews

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You grow up getting awards for gymnastics and fencing and then become a contemporary dancer. You bid the stage farewell for the silver screen in your thirties and make your film break through masturbating in front of prostitutes. You win the Best Actor Award at Cannes, the biggest accolade in European film, and then sign on to do an American TV series playing Hannibal Lecter. In case you didn’t know, there’s no point trying to second guess Danish superstar Mads Mikkelsen.

It seems that Mikkelsen has always been something of a maverick. “I was a Bruce Lee fan as a kid and I liked dressing up like him. It was quite annoying. Game of Death which he didn’t finish, was one of my favorite films. It’s kind of rubbish when you watch it today, but there was something about him and his charisma that was just overwhelming.” Charismatic is also the best way to describe the 47-year-old actor. Although arguments could be made for devilishly handsome, what with those sultry dark brown eyes and a jaw that looks like it’s been designed by a slide rule.

He also does things out of the ordinary. On one occasion an inebriated Mads happily obliged when asked to call a fan who had decided he was God’s gift to women, leaving a friendly and humorous message. “I vaguely remember that. I know how much it means to other people. I see it on my kid Carl’s face — if a soccer player shakes his hand, it
makes his day. If fans make an effort to stand by a door or write you a letter, I think you have to have the courtesy to answer. Obviously I’m not Brad Pitt; if the pile is two million letters per day you can’t do it.”

The pile of fan mail no doubt got a whole lot bigger following his seductive role in A Royal Affair, Denmark’s Foreign Oscar contender, as a doctor who seduces an unhappy British princess played by Swedish starlet Alicia Vikander (page 180) and his Cannes acting gong for his heartbreaking turn in Thomas Vinterberg’s drama The Hunt, which makes its way to theaters this summer. Mikkelsen plays a teacher accused by his best friend’s daughter of pedophilia. As his world implodes, he loses his job, girlfriend, best friend and dignity. Until the tearinducing climax, the audience is also kept in the dark about the truth.

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The funny thing is that when the Casino Royale Bond villain first started acting he could never have imagined working with Vinterberg. “We knew each other from before; he had his group of people that he was working with and I was working with Nicolas Winding Refn and we had our own group. Lars von Trier has his own group and Susanne Bier had her own group and we were in many ways immature because we didn’t want to work with anyone but our own group. It took 15 years to pull ourselves together.”

In any case, Winding Refn, who gave Mikkelsen his big break through in the pulsating drug thriller Pusher has a new boy crush anyway. “He’s working with Ryan Gosling now and they are doing some great stuff.

Of course I’m jealous, just like Nicolas is always jealous when I’m working with someone else; he calls me and tells me that they are all crap. But I think they are doing some really cool stuff together and, you know, one day we might make a ménage-a-trois. I’m just a phone call away.”

The only one of the big four Danish directors that the Copenhagen-born star has yet to work with is Lars von Trier. They once had a deal that before they work together they would have a tennis match and whoever won would dictate the working conditions. It seems an unfair deal given that in his spare time the sport addict actor plays soccer and handball. Funnily enough, von Trier has conveniently forgotten the arrangement. “That was the deal. He’s not really called me about that
tennis match though. He called me about his latest film, the half pornography film. There was some kind of part for me but I couldn’t make it, as I was filming in North America. So that means he has opened up. He’s asked me once, that’s a good start.”

Mikkelsen has been busy. He stars opposite Shia LaBeouf in Fredrik Bond’s romantic thriller The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, which debuted at Sundance. “It’s a beautiful script, a really cool Swedish first time director, and then there is this incredible talent Shia LaBeouf — I really enjoyed working with him. I hope that this film serves him well.”

The big curiosity is Hannibal, the NBC series about everyone’s favorite cannibal. It’s set in the days before the fine diner was incarcerated and became a part that Anthony Hopkins made his own in The Silence of the Lambs. “I don’t think as an actor you can think about that. Hannibal Lecter is an iconic character immortalized by Anthony Hopkins. Of course we are not trying to copy anything because that would be instant suicide. Yet at the same time you can’t just separate, because the character is a fine art lover, he loves music and he loves to eat special things.”

One of the advantages of doing a TV series is that his wife and son have been able to come and live with him while he films. His daughter Viola is busy working in India, where he once filmed the spectacular Susanne Bier drama After the Wedding. He’s excited by his kids making their way in life but warns, “I’m not planning on making a pile of money that they can inherit sooner or later. I’m planning on spending the whole bunch.” There is though one small problem with his plan: “I’m not a good spender actually; I can’t smoke that many cigarettes.”

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