We look back at the best performances from the international star that needs no introduction.
Mads Mikkelsen is arguably one of the biggest Danish actors in contemporary cinema, which is reflected in his Silver Medallion Award at the Telluride Film Festival 2012. The prestigious award honours an “artist’s significant contribution to the world of cinema.” This sentiment is echoed in a recent interview with Kristian Levring, director of The Salvation (2014), in which the filmmaker spoke to us at Nordic Noir & Beyond.
As well as contributing to the Nordic Noir remit in the crime series Unit 1 (2000–2004), Mikkelsen has since become a recognised Nordic artisan in Hollywood. He has starred in the English-language box office hit movies such as King Arthur (2004), and starred in the title role of Hannibal (2013-2015). Mikkelsen’s iconic James Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006), elevated his international status with the popular franchise. Despite the cancellation of Bryan Fuller’s delectable series Hannibal, Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Thomas Harris’ cultural cannibal received rave reviews, as well as a Best Actor award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 2014.
We have put together a list of the best ‘Mads Men’ roles in Nordic film to showcase the Great Dane’s diverse career.
The Hunt (2012)
Thomas Vinterberg’s equally shocking and heart-felt drama sees teacher Lucas (Mikkelsen) persecuted unjustly as a child abuser, due to the fictional words of a seemingly innocent child. The controversial tale examines fear and the devastating effects an accusation can have on a community. The Hunt was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the 2014 Academy Awards and won Mikkelsen Best Actor awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, the Bodil Awards in 2014 and another at the Robert Festival in 2014.
Open Hearts (2002)
Renowned Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier’s foray into the Dogme95 collective entangled the lives of Cecilie (Sonja Richter), Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), Marie (Paprika Steen) and Niels (Mikkelsen). After an accident leaves Joachim disabled, a burgeoning affair between Cecilie and Niels questions their commitment to the ones they love. Open Hearts is a portrait of human nature and how we react when faced with a harrowing present. Mikkelsen also received a Best Actor award for his role as Niels at the Rouen Nordic Film Festival in 2003.
After the Wedding (2006)
Mikkelsen and Bier reunite in this touching drama co-starring Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen, 2010-2013) and Rolf Lassgård (False Trail, 2011). When Jacob Pederson (Mikkelsen) grudgingly returns from India back to Denmark in order to seek funds for his orphanage in Bombay, unexpected ghosts from the past are unleashed. Wealthy sponsor Jørgen Lennart Hannson (Lassgård) proposes to help Jacob in the midst of his daughter’s wedding celebrations. However, Jacob discovers the Danish ties he thought were severed come back to haunt him in the form of a legacy he didn’t know existed.
Flame and Citron (2008)
Set in 1944 during the WWII, Mikkelsen is Jørgen Haagen Schmith AKA ‘Citronen’ to Thure Lindhardt’s Bent Faurschou-Hviid alter-ego ‘Flammen’. The pair operate as resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Denmark who became infamous figures in Danish history. Their orders to eliminate Danes that have formed allies with Nazi Germany soon change when a Nazi officer is targeted. Flame and Citron is a historical thriller which follows Bent and Jørgen as they battle to fulfill their mission and survive the war.
A Royal Affair (2012)
This lavish period drama stars a host of beloved Nordic stars: The Legacy’s Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Trine Dyrholm, alongside Søren Malling from The Killing I (2007) and 1864 (2014). Rising international sensation Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, 2015 and Testament of Youth, 2014) takes the lead as British princess Caroline Mathilde at the heart of A Royal Affair. She is torn between the love for German doctor Johann Struensee (Mikklelsen) and her obligation to marry the mad King Christian VII of Denmark (Følsgaard).
Pusher (1996) & Pusher 2: With Blood on My Hands (2004)
In his feature-film debut, Mikkelsen joins Kim Bodnia (The Bridge, 2011-2013) in the gritty streets of Denmark in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher. He plays friend and sidekick to Frank (Bodnia) in a drug deal that goes wrong; pitting the duo against a relentless drug lord seeking vengeance. Mikkelsen later reprised his role as off-kilter Tonny in the sequel Pusher 2: With Blood on My Hands which won him Best Actor 2005 at the Robert Festival.
Flickering Lights (2000)
Anders Thomas Jensen brings together Scandi stars Søren Pilmark (1864, 2014 and King’s Game, 2004), Ulrich Thomsen (Festen, 1998 and A Second Chance, 2014), Nikolaj Lie Kaas (The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2013), Iben Hjejle (Klown, 2010), Peter Andersson and The Killing’s Sofie Gråbøl in a crime comedy about a group of misfits who stumble upon a chance to start a new life for themselves in the country. A botched heist to steal four million kroner from a fellow gangster forces the band of thieves (including Mikkelsen) into hiding. Here, their dreams of constructing a restaurant business out of the house they are hiding out in sets them on a new path. However, the threat of revenge from the wronged gangster looms like a pall over their future.
Adam’s Apples (2005)
Mads Mikkelsen and Ulrich Thomsen are back with humorous undertones in this culture clash comedy which won Best Film at the 2006 Robert Festival (the Danish equivalent to the Oscars). An eclectic band of convicts, including neo-Nazi radical Adam (Thomsen), are enrolled in a rehabilitation program under the naïve guidance of priest Ivan (Mikkelsen). Ivan’s uncompromising faith in the inherent goodness of man (as outlined in the Book of Job) is tested when Adam sets out to undermine and destroy Ivan’s opposing outlook. This anti-divine intervention appropriately features the song ‘How Deep is Your Love’ by the Bee Gees on the soundtrack.
The Green Butchers (2003)
Svend (Mikkelsen) and Bjarne (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) are entrepreneurs of a new meat supplier in this dark comedy that blends Delicatessan (1991) with the macabre of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007). A freak accident offers the friends a disturbing business venture that goes down a treat with their customers who are blissfully unaware of what the tasty foodstuff is made of. The Green Butchers is written by Anders Thomas Jensen, who has penned a plethora of Mikkelsen’s characters in films such as Flickering Lights, Open Hearts, Adam’s Apples, After the Wedding and The Salvation.
Valhalla Rising (2009)
Nicolas Winding Refn (The Pusher trilogy and Drive, 2011) exchanges the unsettling streets of modern day Denmark for 1000 AD situated in Norse mythology, actually filmed on location in Scotland. Mikkelsen stars as a mute warrior named One-Eye escapes captivity, only to become a fighter for an army of Christian Crusaders on a quest for Jerusalem. Valhalla Rising is an action adventure with mystical elements which is presented in six parts that span the epic and treacherous journey to the Holy Land. While there are no songs by the Bee Gees you can expect Refn’s signature atmospheric and haunting score from Peter Kyed.
Look out for the sublime comedy stylings of Mads Mikkelsen as he will next be seen in the Danish science fiction comedy drama Men & Chicken (2015); another outing with long-time collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen.