I am very familiar with Indian culture: Mads Mikkelsen
Mads Mikkelsen is Hollywood’s go-to villain. He has played the lead antagonist in films such as Casino Royale (2006) and Valhalla Rising (2009). And as Hannibal Lecter was revived on the small screen, fans of the character were treated to a perfect portrayal by Mikkelsen. His popularity burgeoned with his portrayal of villains in Marvel and James Bond franchises. The actor who started out as a dancer discovered his love for drama and in time has risen among ranks to become one of the most popular Danish faces in the world of cinema today. Over a phone call the actor talked about his journey in the industry so far.
You started out as a dancer, how did you find your passion for acting? Who were the actors that you looked up to growing up?
I found a passion for drama through dancing. I became a dancer by coincidence, did it for nine years, then I fell in love with drama when I started tilting towards the dramatic side of dancing. My parents were not artistes, but we used to watch a lot of films. My father used to record radio theatre and we used to listen to that over and over again. Growing up, my biggest idols were Bruce Lee and Buster Keaton. It was very interesting to watch both of them on screen. There were a lot of actors whom I started looking up to when I started acting and started gaining knowledge about the art but those two were my first two heroes.
The roles you play are as diverse as they get, a Bond villain to a cannibal to a kindergarten teacher. How do you choose your roles?
The stories are a vital key here. If I find the story interesting then I will look at my part, if I find the part interesting, then I will look at the director, if I can get along with her or him and I can sense their vision that is a key signal for me to jump on a project. I grew up in a fantasy world reading a lot of comic books. I also love real drama, but as an actor I am the type who wants to explore different things. I do not like to limit myself; I fall in love with a lot.
Does that mean we will see you in a Bollywood film soon?
I am just waiting for an invitation. Right now I have a moustache, I know that a lot of actors have moustaches in Bollywood films. So I guess I will be ready in a couple of weeks. I remember watching Indian films as a kid. Growing up I had an Indian friend named Adnan, and he was always watching Indian films, so I remember that vividly.
Have you been to India?
Yes I have been in Mumbai, I was in the city for a few weeks. We were shooting a Danish film there. I was working very hard; we were shooting at a slum area and at an orphanage. I am very familiar with Indian culture so it was interesting for me to be there and work there but I would have loved to have a little bit of time in my own hand to explore the city.
Your popular show completes five years. How do you look back at the journey?
I look back at Hannibal (which airs on AXN) with a great deal of pride. We did something that we are really proud of. Something that was really special and unique for the world of television. We got our way with a lot of things graphically and story-wise. They had four or five people in their mind and I was one of the people who auditioned for the role. I tried to play the part as a quiet and subtle person. The directors were divided whether to make the nature of the character subtle or evil, I convinced them that subtlety was what was needed.
You have been part of the video game, Death Stranding. How was it like working on a video game?
I am still part of it, the director is a very specific man and he wants to get everything tight and it is a long process, it takes its time. It is very exciting and interesting and obviously I can’t wait for my kids to see it. I am making new relationships as this journey progresses. It is fascinating to see what you can do with these animation technologies. I used to play a lot of video games as a kid, so it was really exciting for me.
You have been part of German, Danish and French films, how different is it working there compared to Hollywood?
All cultures are different, whenever you are doing a film in a different country you have to first explore it, every country is different. Having said that something that unites everyone is making films, there is not much difference when it comes to film-making, you might approach it in a different way, but you still want to do the same thing that is to tell a good story and make it as believable as possible.