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Interview - Mads Mikkelsen

Mad As A Dane

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The legendary Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen talks to Kaleem Aftab about fame and poverty

It’s been a little over a decade since Mads Mikkelsen terrorised his way into public consciousness playing the violent enforcer Tonny in Pusher. It was his debut film and the start of a career that now has him commonly touted as the face of Danish cinema. Of course his caché was cranked up a million-fold by his turn as the villain le Chiffre in Casino Royale. The Bond movie is the type of big-budget nonsense that the 42 year-old actor runs away from. When questioned about the integrity of his American choices, Mikkelsen simply replies, ‘They’re not my American films and yeah, that is where the money is. When I read the Bond script, I thought that compared to other Bond films it was good. Also, it was fun to do.’

In the Oscar nominated After the Wedding, Mikkelsen is back to doing what he does best. He plays Jacob who runs an orphanage in India. When he returns to Denmark to raise money for the orphanage he discovers that his past is about to catch up on him. The experience of working in India had a profound effect on the actor: ‘It was my first time in India - a total culture shock. We have no chance to comprehend what goes on there, it’s so dramatic and people are so poor. We all felt bad about being there. Filming in India felt like we were going to borrow something knowing that we were never going to give it back.’

Before entering acting Mikkelsen had been a professional dancer, the legacy of which can be seen in his rippling frame that is crowned by a strong jawline. Yet, Mikkelsen found it disheartening to be feted because of his looks: ‘It comes with fame. The day before I was famous in Denmark, nobody looked my way the day after everybody wanted to talk to me. I’ve always considered myself a very serious working man and all of a sudden the focus was on that.’ So remember next time Mikkelsen is on screen; concentrate on his excellent performances not his bulging biceps.

After the Wedding is out now on selected release.

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