Mads Mikkelsen Source
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Q&A with Mads Mikkelsen from the Filmfestival 2014 in Braunschweig

Source: Gianna Rahmani
Date: November 15, 2014

First question was actually asked by me, though at that time I was so nervous that I nearly died so it was especially hard for figure out what I actually said through all that whimpering. (Glad Mads understood me?)

You were a stage performer first before got into the film industry, and you are well known by your fans by what we call ‘micro expressions’, Bryan Fuller even told you to make your expressions while acting a little bit more visible. That doesn’t work an stage though because people can’t see your face in a full shot like they do in movies. So was that a thing that you learned in drama school or how did you develop this?
Mads: You’re right, I mean I kind of love theatre but I’m more in love with film.I think the special moment where you can get the audience in here and you don’t have to go to the audience, but the audience will come to you is super interesting moment, and I believe you can do that in theatre as well, not necessarily in very big rooms, I learned that, but in small rooms you can definitely do make the audience be curious so you don’t have to go to them and break the bond.

It’s a give-and-take, you can also be very expressive in theatre, I’ve done that numerous times on different shows but you’re right, I had to learn it and I had to give-and-take a little myself but I always kept insisting on what’s possible not just always to go out there to the audience but also make them come to you. I’m not doing theatre any more. (laughs) Not for that reason though, but it was sometimes very frustrating when you tried something out and you had the whole back going ‘What? What’s happening?’ So, I had to learn that yeah.

Next question was asked by a girl in German so I’ll just freely translate that.

Are you even more fame because of the role as Hannibal? (Yeah, she said it like this.)
Mads: I mean TV is a whole different monster than film, which is again a different monster than theatre. TV comes to peoples living rooms, all the sudden they believe that that they kind of posses you, that you’re a part of their kitchen. So, it’s a whole different energy there. There’s definitely more people that recognize me on the streets and in different cities in the world but also they have a special fan group and call themselves ‘The Fannibals’, and they’re fantastic, they’re very heavy on the internet? Or whatever it’s called? Facebook? I am, as you can hear, a child from the former millennium so I’m not really in there myself, but I’ve met several of them and they’re very very dedicated fans so it’s a different level, definitely.

Girl continues: Okay, be honest with me now, who in here is a Fannibal?

Some people raise their hand.

Audience laughs

Mads laughs

Mads: Well thanks to you guys we got a Season 3!

Another girl asks:

You said Hannibal is a very happy person, what can we learn about Hannibal?
Mads: What can we learn from him or what can we learn about him? We’re going to learn a lot about him hopefully and hopefully not everything because he’s interrogatively the fallen angel that has no specific reason for what he’s doing, it’s just what he is. I don’t know what we can learn from him, what can we learn from our friends? What can we learn from Game of Thrones? What can we learn from the TV show Hannibal? I think that, in that very grotesque universe of Hannibal there is a lot of beauty in there and if we take away that piece of killing and cannibalism there’s a lot of friendship, there’s a lot of love, there’s a lot of beauty.

But I’m not the one who’s going to sit here and say ‘This is what the TV show Hannibal is about’. It’s still growing, still developing. It’s an interesting thing to do a TV show because what you don’t have in a film, a curve where you know when it’s going to end. So for us, we’re also in the middle of a process. We’re just trying to justify our parts as much as we can and make them as full of empathy as we can and as human as we can. Within that if people stay tuned in there must be a fascination with something hopefully that people can gain something from, hopefully not the wrong inspiration though.

Another question was:

If you had to describe your life right now, with a specific sentence said by Hannibal. Which one would that be?
Mads: (pauses and thinks) He says a lot of things… I have a tendency to forget it, so there is room for the next one. (another pause) Well, I guess that Hannibal is a character that embraces life in it’s moment, right here now. He doesn’t super plan ahead, he doesn’t have a master plan, he sees opportunities around the corner, right here, and he makes the best of the day, everyday. I would say that’d be interesting to just live like that, and I do that to a certain degree I think, but he’s obviously very extreme doing it.

Fan: Cool answer! I expected something like ‘Eat The Rude’!
Mads: No, I supposable would go to jail if I’d do that.

Audience laughs

Another Fan:

Hello Mr. Mikkelsen I’m a fan of you from Thailand and I wanted to ask you, you just mentioned that you like Bruce Lee, would you like to play a role in a Kung Fu film?
Mads: Yes! The answer is definitely yes! I mean I have to do it really soon because I’m not getting any younger, as you could see climbing up and down stuff is going to be a little tricky. (he refers to the video clip of him that was shown earlier in the interview) Yes, I was a big fan of Bruce Lee and who was not? I mean I dressed like him, I jumped around like him. My two big heroes when I was a kid were Bruce Lee and Buster Keaton. For he same reasons. They were extremely physical and they expressed an extreme amount of things with their face. I could put myself in that, I could mirror myself in their faces, in their thoughts.

They had an enormous presence, it was not like ‘oh they are just standing there’, No, something happened there and I was obsessed with looking at these people. Of course you could put your own life in there and imagine whatever, he was like a blank canvas. So those two guys were my heroes, funny enough, as you said, I enjoyed doing the minimalistic style myself (I think he was referring to my first question there, I only have noticed now oh my god.) not that I tried to copy anything their did but I think it goes all the way back to when I was a kid, I enjoyed that the characters, the actors, did not tell you what it was a 100% sure. But he held a little back so I could imagine myself. So those were my two big heroes and if I could do a Hong Kong Kung Fu film I would do it any time. If you can bring Bruce Lee back, do it!

The next question was in German again so I’ll just translate it.

It’s rumoured that after the shooting of Casino Royale you were so interested in poker that you were in a poker game that was stopped by the police? Is that true?
Mads: That is not exactly true. Actually when I returned to Copenhagen it happened. It’s not legal to play poker in Copenhagen and I was invited to a charity poker thing. Where there was professional poker players and there was something happening where we gave the whole thing to charity. We thought it was all legal but apparently it was not. So that was closed down and for the first time in my life I won a tournament except it wasn’t really funny. But it became a big thing, but it was actually a small thing.

Next fan question

I wonder what it feels like for you to look at yourself and whether you feel satisfied and have a feeling of ‘This is good’ or do you feel like ‘Could have been better! The next time it will be the one!’
Mads: I would say from this angle it could have been a little better!

(He was sitting directly under the big cinema screen)

Audience laughs

Mads: In general I’m not the kind of actor who goes ‘Oh I can’t watch myself’, no. It’s my job. I have to see what I’m doing, but I’ll also say, most actors have the feeling when we do something, if it works or not. We can tell specifically ‘Not that take, Not that take, Something happened in the third take, please look at that, just re-look at that!’ and if they use that, we’re normally quite comfortable watching ourself if they use something else with what we’re not happy, than we can go (unsatisfied face) Right? But we’ll see a good rule is if you forget yourself when you start watching the film and you’re sucked in by the film, that’s a good sign. Then you start forgetting what you’re doing and it’s all about that.

We can not be jobless, we can not be part of a circus that crave attention, see me, see how difficult it is. It has to look like we’re not even doing anything, you have to forget us. You should not make sure that people are paying attention to us, they should pay attention the the emotion in there and not to us. So, if that works, we’re happy. I’ve seen stuff I was not happy with, well, that’s life.

Next question

How did James Bond change your life, and can you give me a tip since you’re a poker player how to win the next poker game?
Mads: Well first of all you can start out with a lot of money, that’s a good start… And then cheat, cheat, cheat!

How do you cheat?
Mads: Well you can pack your cards, you know whatever, illegal stuff. No, I mean I have no idea how to win a poker game, you can meet so many different people who play poker in different ways, you can easily lose to a kid who doesn’t have a clue because what you’re doing he doesn’t observe, right? And then you can lose to somebody who is much better than you and vice versa.

James Bond did not change my life at all, thanks god for that, because I had a great life, but it obviously made the pile of scripts slightly bigger that I was offered. In the beginning it was a lot of bad guys that were resembling this guy (Le Chiffre) but more and more so interesting stuff came from around the world, so it changed my career to a degree, not my approach to what I’m doing. So if that would not have happened I would probably do the same as I’m doing now but maybe in a more moderate way, maybe a little more back home.

The next questions were about if he would accept fan gifts or give autographs after the interview so

I’ll leave that out if you don’t mind.

Last question was in German so I will translate.

You’re happily married to your wife for 27 years, what’s your secret?
Mads: I’m always away.

Audience laughs and applauses.

Mads: I have no idea. There must be other people out there breaking our record, I think it’s going to be a cliché, I think that it has to be that I’ve kind of like her. And she kinda likes me.