Mads Mikkelsen Source
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Jul 18, 2013   3 Comments Articles/Interviews, Jagten

A magazine once dubbed Mads Mikkelsen the Danish Brad Pitt. While the actor can’t recall which magazine it was, he regrets to inform you that the tag stuck.

“It’s been haunting me,” says Mikkelsen, who appreciates the comparison but says it comes from a superficial place, celebrating Pitt’s “pretty boy” looks more than his work as a character actor.

“Sometimes I believe he’s not being acclaimed for that. I hope people acclaim what I’m doing [instead of] what they think I look like. And we have to understand that a lot of people think I look like shit.”

Mikkelsen certainly looks dashing in a relaxed sort of way during our interview. He’s sporting blue jeans and a black shirt with the sleeves rolled up while he devours a bowl of mixed nuts. However, there’s no confusing him with anything less than a refined character actor who loves to mix things up on screen.

Mikkelsen is taking a break from playing TV’s Hannibal Lecter to discuss the heartthrob he played in Oscar-nominated period piece A Royal Affair (released earlier this year) as well as his devastating performance as Lucas, a man wrongfully accused of child abuse in The Hunt, which opens Friday.

Mikkelsen was awarded the best-actor prize at Cannes for his work as Lucas, and deservedly so. The performance adds shades and complexity to a film that takes a straightforward route, never questioning Lucas’s innocence in a story about how a child’s imaginings become an automatic conviction.

“We didn’t want to make a thriller,” says Mikkelsen of writer/director Thomas Vinterberg’s direction. “If we made a thriller out of it, it would be banal. ‘Oh, did he do it? Oh, but it was the neighbour?’ We wanted to make a drama. We wanted to see a man in the world of Kafka, where doors are closing and he doesn’t understand why. And he can’t fucking do anything. If he screams, he’s guilty. If he’s silent, he’s guilty. If he leaves, he’s guilty. If he stays, he’s guilty.”

Mikkelsen carefully points out that The Hunt isn’t meant to paint children as liars. When it comes to child abuse, they usually aren’t. Yet his film does have a foundation in real-world scenarios that Vinterberg drew from, right down to a nearly word-for-word transcription from a police interview with a child who is coaxed into elaborating on a lie.
“Our mission is more about how our society can implode and collapse,” Mikkelsen explains. “How fast it goes when dealing with the subject of kids, because everything rational just disappears. Civilization disappears. It was about [parents’] great love [for their kids] turned into enormous fear and eventually enormous hate of the accused. [My character is] fighting, as the only civilized person in the city, against emotions. And there is no way you can beat emotions.”


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