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Interview with Mads Mikkelsen at Filmfestival Braunschweig 2014

Source: Gianna Rahmani
Date: November 15, 2014

This interview was done for an article that is aimed at young European students that are not yet familiar with Mikkelsen and his work. If you’re a Fannibal only, this interview might not be interesting for you, because the questions are mainly in the context of Mads’ work in the European film industry.

Young people aren’t really interested in cultural European movies any more. I know a lot of people my age that are fans of the series Hannibal though which is an American production. So, I wanted to ask you first of all, which one of your European movies, that you starred in, would you recommend to a younger person, my age.
Mads: It’s interesting we have obviously a very historical film we made, that’s called ‘A Royal Affair’ and I think it’s a beautiful film, and it’s a true story, and it also actually is about this area Altona, and it’s a very important part of Danish history.

So that would be a beautiful, easy accessable film for a teenager to see. But I think that you can watch The Hunt, that is also very powerful for people your age, and you can see Pusher II which I also think is a very interesting film to watch in your age. So those 3 films would definitely be up there.

A lot of young people used to have the ambition to be an actor as well, but they were blinded by this big Hollywood/Bevery Hills image, so they gave up this dream because they think it’s delusional. What would you say to these young people who love acting and have a passion for acting?
Mads: It’s a strange place to start to think about Hollywood and that, I think you should go and watch some local theatre, go and see if it’s inspiring you, and maybe you’ll think ‘I’m so good I could to it better!’ You know, maybe you can get inspired by that it’s bad or that it’s good and you can start with smaller groups from there on, you just have to go and do what you want to do, and then after some time you can predict what happens in the future. But aiming straight for the Hollywood thing has more to do with fame than it has to do with acting, so I think it’s good to start with acting.

You both starred in European productions and in American Productions, and you are in the film industry for about 15 years now. Have you seen a change between both of these productions, have they become more similar or are they moving away from each other?
Mads: I think it’s a normal question that we ask ourselves in Europe all the time, the Americans are not so occupied with that. We are very occupied with that, and it’s interesting because I think that we are inspired to an extreme degree by the Americans, and I think they are inspired by us. So I think deep down inside we’re doing the same things. What they’re dealing with is very big budgets.

When you have a very big budget sometimes the director is not the boss any more. Then you have 5 producers, they have somebody else and a money man behind that whole thing, and doesn’t become solid film.
We have smaller budgets in Europe, so it becomes director’s films. So we have a tendency to make more specific films. But having said that, there is a lot of challenge over there and a lot of challenge here and I hope that we can still inspire each other to give-and-take.

Your roles tend to have different nationalities, in Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky you had to speak French with a Russian accent.
Mads: Yeah, I spoke Russian, French, I spoke German I spoke Swedish… (mumbling)

That’s a lot! I’m not trying to compare you but you know your colleague Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. For Game of Thrones he needed this fluent American accent so you couldn’t tell he was a Dane. Would you ever consider playing an American or working on your accent in such an extreme manner?
Mads: It’s always been an issue, I mean the thing about accents is that, I have nothing against accents, if people have an accent. I tend to be a little annoyed when people make an accent. I tend to see that too much.

But having said that, Nikolaj has been working really hard, so for him it’s very easy and his American accent is fluent. So just hats-off for him.

But you can never be flawless without an accent unless you stayed there for many years, that’s the key. I try to be more honest with the character and then I work hard on the accent and then I forget it when I start filming.

Another question is, I saw the pictures from the set in Toronto a few weeks ago and I asked myself, can you really drive the motorcycle.
Mads: (laughs) Oh is that out? Yes, yes I’ve been driving the motorcycle for many years.

Were you also able to ride a horse from the beginning?
Mads: No, that was the first time I did that for a film, for King Arthur and so that was a lot of us who have never been riding before, we spent 6 month on a horse, all of us. Including Hugh Dancy, and I think that was his first time as well. So we all got baptised and we never became specifically really good at it, but we became good at looking as if we know what we’re doing.

Last question, and you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to. In a lot of movies where your character gets hit in the face the make-up artists tend to empathize this scar. (points at nose)
Mads: My scar here?

Yes. If you think it’s too personal you don’t have to tell me but I was just interested in where you got it.
Mads: I broke my nose a lot. I broke my nose 3 times actually, some has been sports and the very first time was I did it was, unfortunately, me being very young and very stupid, that’s all I can say. (grins)

So that was it for the interview, we talked a little bit more, he told me to watch more films with Bruno Ganz and to check out the Alexanderplatz in Berlin, he told me about how he went there as a kid in school and how much he enjoyed the German culture there etc.