Mads Mikkelsen Source
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Royale Splendor

Source: filmstew
Date: September 18, 2006

Even though the role of bad guy Le Chiffre in Casino Royale is about to dramatically alter Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen’s horizon, he says the set felt pretty much the same.

Mads Mikkelsen won’t say much about Casino Royale, the upcoming James Bond movie in which he stars as the villain Le Chiffre opposite new Bond Daniel Craig. He will allow that the film is kind of a creation myth. “It’s about how Bond becomes Bond,” he tells FilmStew.

The 40-year-old Dane insists that he only makes one film a year, which doesn’t quite explain how, in addition to Casino Royale, he had two films in the just concluded Toronto International Film Festival: the domestic drama Prague, about a couple coming apart while far away from home, and After the Wedding, written by Mikkelsen’s frequent collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen and directed by Susanne Bier. A fourth release this year, the Swedish thriller Exit, opens there on October 6th.

Mikkelsen is an award-winning star in Denmark, where he works on stage and screen, appearing in such films as Pusher, Open Hearts, The Green Butchers and Adam’s Apples. Audiences in the United States primarily know him from his role as Tristan in 2004’s King Arthur. That low profile is about to change with the release of Casino Royale, certain to be one of the most talked about movies of the season regardless of how it does at the box office. After years of coasting on Pierce Brosnan’s admittedly formidable charm, the franchise is getting an injection of new energy in the rougher, tougher Craig.

“The script is really strong,” says Mikkelsen. “It’s been dragged into 2006, a different Bond. It’s more gritty, more brutal, more realistic, but still Bond. I think it’s a new approach and it works really well.”

Certainly the casting of the two actors suggests a change. They are both fair-haired boys and effortlessly elegant off-screen (Craig deserved that best dressed moniker that GQ bestowed on him), but where Craig is often hard-boiled – something so many directors have taken advantage of before, casting him as rough trade in such diverse films, as Love Is the Devil, The Mother and Infamous – Mikkelsen is smooth. As Le Chiffre, he says, he’s also forceful and smart.

“[Bond] gets in my way, because I’m laundering money from terrorist organizations,” Mikkelsen explains. “All of the sudden I have a problem; I owe a lot of people a lot of money. I try to get that back by arranging a big poker game, and what do you know? Bond turns up.”

In taking on new roles, Mikkelsen looks to find qualities that exist within his own personality from which to build his character. “I think everyone knows all of the feelings in the world, and can relate to them in certain situations. It might not be a big part of me, but it’s in there somewhere,” he asserts.

And what did he locate within himself that gave him the key to Le Chiffre? “He’s a very cynical person, very, very ice cold, and I have that, as well,” he admits.

A portion of After the Wedding was filmed amidst the poverty of India, while Prague was shot away from his Danish home in the title city. They are both small, intimate dramas as opposed to the big-budget circus that is Casino Royale. Yet Mikkelsen insists that when it came to shooting the films, there was surprisingly little difference.

“The atmosphere on the Bond film was pretty much like we have back home,” he reveals. “Barbara Broccoli was there and Michael Wilson was there all the time fetching coffee, giving massages. It was a really good atmosphere. And when you’re working, it’s the same work, even though there are 500 people on the set, still the focus is on work. I didn’t see the big leap.”