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Mads Mikkelsen on The Hunt and Hannibal

Source: Crave Online
Date: July 12, 2013

Mads Mikkelsen has woven in and out of my personal film history. When I started researching Nicolas Winding Refn, I saw Mikkelsen in the films Pusher, Pusher II and Valhalla Rising. Of course he also played the classic Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. Now he’s on TV every week as Dr. Hannibal Lecter on NBC’s “Hannibal.”

I got a chance to interview Mikkelsen for his latest film, The Hunt. It’s a Danish film about a very serious subject, and provided the perfect vehicle for an in-depth discussion about Mikkelsen’s work. He stars as Lucas, a schoolteacher falsely accused of molesting a kindergartener. Even though he is proven innocent, the accusation itself turns the whole town against him. I woke up early Wednesday morning to speak to Mikkelsen out of New York, and we went well over our allotted 20 minutes discussing the film’s themes and Mikkelsen’s craft. The Hunt opens in select theaters this weekend.

CraveOnline: This is a very tragic story for Lucas. What is the joy in getting to play him?
Mads Mikkelsen: Well, joy is a big word in that sense. It was a tragic story. It was a heartbreaking thing to read and a very frustrating thing to read. I guess the joy of bringing that to life on the big screen is that I think we’re telling an important story, something we need to talk about as people. We have to discuss these dilemmas that we are considering in the film. So that is the joy, and as an actor, I think it’s joyful to be part of a film where it’s almost like a portrait. You go to sleep with this guy and wake up with him, so we can start feeling his struggle instead of just seeing his struggle.

Important is a big word, and I agree it’s an important issue and a dramatic issue. What makes that entertaining as well? Because you don’t just want to be important.
No, obviously if there was just a political message, we would do something else. We are filmmakers and we are specifically trying to entertain people. So that is our first job but if it was as simple as we had a political message, it would be much cheaper to just stand up on a box and say out loud. Obviously we are filmmakers and we have suspense in the film and we make it into a piece of drama. That is sometimes a better way to sell the message than just stand on a box and speak out loud.

I think that’s why I use the word joy, because even though it’s a frustrating and tragic issue, I think it’s provocative that you get to explore it in an art form.
I totally agree with that. I think it is. I agree it’s important as well. Every film doesn’t have to have that weight but when you deal with a subject like this, it is luxury that we can sing about it instead of just saying it.