Mads Mikkelsen Source
mobile version
A Night on The Town with Mads Mikkelsen

Source: NY Times
Date: November 19, 2006

AS Le Chiffre, the bad guy in the new James Bond thriller “Casino Royale,” Mads Mikkelsen tries to bankrupt, emasculate and kill Her Majesty’s humble servant 007. But on a recent Sunday night, the worst thing he did was puff cigarettes.

“I tried to make Le Chiffre an asthmatic and a heavy smoker,” he said after lighting up. “I thought that was a great combination. But no one smokes in a Bond film anymore.”

Although he may be Denmark’s best-known actor, acclaimed for roles in films like “Pusher” and “The Green Butchers,” and was once voted the sexiest man in the world by the Danish magazine Woman, the 40-year-old Mr. Mikkelsen attracted little notice on the streets of Manhattan.

With a bit of stubble, and clad in a dark fatigue jacket, jeans and sneakers, he slipped quietly with his wife, Hanne Jacobsen, into the Scandinavian bistro Smorgas Chef Midtown at 49th Street and Second Avenue. But first, he pointed out the umlaut over the “o.”

“What a not-Danish name,” he exclaimed. “They only have that in Germany and Sweden. In Denmark, it would be a slash.”

Once inside, the cultural melee continued. “I’m having the classical Swedish dish: New Zealand lamb,” Mr. Mikkelsen announced. He turned to the waitress. “Do you have something funny for a starter? You have some snails?”

Keeping company with Monsieur Le Chiffre and his main Bond girl were James Arden and Sidse Ploug Soerensen, two Danish performers living in New York. Periodically, they conversed in their native tongue about Denmark’s film industry, and licorice.

“It’s a big, big thing in Scandinavia,” Mr. Mikkelsen explained. “You have nothing like it here. When we go abroad, we start missing it after a week.”

Mr. Mikkelsen could have used the comfort food. To make him appear suitably creepy in the most serious Bond film yet, the makeup department outfitted him with a contact lens that rendered his left eye cloudy and rheumy. “I was probably the clumsiest villain in the history of Bond films because I lost my depth perception,” he said. “I was bumping into lamps and sticking my hand out to shake hands that weren’t there.”

To interpret his character from scratch, he avoided watching the 1954 television version and 1967 feature-length spoof of “Casino Royale.” He even refused to read the original Ian Fleming novel. So when a reporter handed him a paperback copy, he eagerly read Fleming’s description of Le Chiffre as a stateless person who was discovered in Dachau.

“This is pretty cool,” he said. “I like that!” Reading further, though, he found that his alter ego was a flagellant with strong sexual appetites.

“This is wrong,” he snorted, putting the book aside with mock disgust.

After dinner, the group headed to Whiskey Blue in the W Hotel two blocks away, where Mr. Mikkelsen was almost barred for lack of a proper ID. (“I feel really old tonight,” he told the bouncer.) The nightcap of choice was the Vesper, James Bond’s original vodka martini. As created by Fleming, it consists of three measures of gin and one of vodka, and a half-measure of Kina Lillet, served with a slice of lemon peel.

Mr. Mikkelsen contemplated the drink. “I’m a beer man,” Mr. Mikkelsen said. “I tried to drink whiskey and Scotch but I don’t get it. It smells like a girl who didn’t shower and just splashed a lot of perfume on.”

“But that’s wonderful,” he said, giving the Vesper an approving sip. “I can taste the clear liquor in there.”

“You’ll sleep well,” Mr. Arden said, indicating the potent cocktail.

“Don’t believe it,” Mr. Mikkelsen said. “Three or four hours. I’m a very energetic person.”