The movie scene

Mads Mikkelsen on the hunt for good roles

 
 
Mikkelsen
Mikkelsen
NBC / Robert Trachtenberg/NBC

It’s hard to put a frame around Mads Mikkelsen. The tall, saturnine Danish star was the bad guy in Casino Royale and a courageous World War II resistance fighter in Flame & Citron. He’s just completed his first season as the suave, omnivorous Dr. Lecter in NBC’s “Hannibal.”

In The Hunt, which opens Friday, he plays a kindhearted schoolteacher wrongfully accused of a terrible crime. His performance in the psychological thriller won him the best actor prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. He’s even been knighted by the Queen of Denmark. But he still recalls being jeered at the curtain call the first time he played Romeo.

“One night I remember we had more than 20 people booing in the back row. It wasn’t that rare, and it wasn’t a nice feeling,” Mikkelsen said by phone from New York City. “Luckily, I was coming in for my bow joined up with Juliet, so I could always blame her.”

A gymnast and dancer before he became an actor, Mikkelsen “realized I was more in love with drama. I got my eyes opened by everything Scorsese had done, the whole period of the ’70s and ’80s in American movies,” he said. Taxi Driver was a revelation.

“It was the first film where I had this mixed emotion when I watched it. DeNiro, I didn’t like him, then I liked him, then I didn’t like him, then I liked him again. It was throwing up questions to me. I had to be active and think about what I saw instead of just giving me the answers. . . . It was a fantastic way of giving me a dilemma as an audience.” That paradox shaped his approach to acting ever afterward, he said.

“I’ve tried to achieve that in my work. It has to be a dualism, not just black or white. We can’t always do it but we can give it a try if the film’s well enough written.” His ability to shift between roles has given him the chance to build a remarkably diverse resume. In 2009, he had back-to-back roles as a mute, head-chopping Viking berserker in Valhalla Rising and a sexy, intellectual composer in Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky.

In The Hunt, a false accusation spreads rumors, suspicion and fury among the inhabitants of a small Danish town. Mikkelsen’s character, Lucas, expects that logic will prevail, but his friends turn against him and seething rancor turns a postcard-pretty village into a 21st-century Salem.

“Lucas is almost a pure victim,” Mikkelsen said. “Being the stubborn man he is, he insists on dealing with this matter in a civilized way. That’s a battle he’s bound to lose because he’s up against emotions. He’s trying to keep his sanity when people are losing theirs all around him. Funnily enough, the biggest relief in the film, for me and also for the audience, is when he loses his manners and head-butts a guy in the supermarket.”

Mikkelsen sees a parallel between the story and the tension between defending society and giving up the freedoms that make it worth preserving.

“In our paranoia and our eagerness to fight terrorism and keep democracy, we’re moving democracy to fight terror. We’re losing the battle if we’re giving in to the fear.”

Colin Covert

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • La vida local

    Miami Heat player Mario Chalmers goes from basketball to golf; Ariana Grande talks family problems

    You’d think Mario Chalmers would be ready for his PGA card by now. On Monday, the Miami Heat point guard held his sixth annual golf tournament in Lawrence, Kansas, benefiting his namesake foundation and hanging out with his old college teammates from his days playing basketball with the University of Kansas.

  • Celebrity roundup

    Bachelorette Andi Dorfman: I was attracted to Josh Murray from the beginning

    Bachelorette (no more) Andi Dorfman stopped by Good Morning America on Tuesday to show off her ABC swag (aka engagement ring) from former pro baseball player Josh Murray. The 27-year-old lawyer and her 29-year-old grinning fiance held hands and looked pretty happy. “I definitely knew there was that chemistry and attraction with him,” Dorfman said of their first meeting. “I'm definitely an overthinker, though, so it took me till the very end.” Plus she had to break up with 24 guys first. No wedding date has been set yet; the couple need to do more publicity first.

  • Gaga on Bennett duet CD: Jazz comes easier vs. pop

    NEW YORK (AP) – Lady Gaga is a bona fide pop star, but the singer says recording jazz music was easier than pop.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category