Cheat Sheet: Mads Mikkelsen


Mads Dittmann Mikkelsen

Date of Birth:

22nd November 1965

Place of birth:

Copenhagen, Denmark

Special moves:

Acting, Being better at it than you.

Films include:

Casino Royale, After the Wedding, Pusher 1 and 2, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, Valhalla Rising, Open Hearts, Clash of the Titans

What you probably already know:

You all know Mads, even if you don’t know that you know Mads. Assuming you didn’t see King Arthur (oh, like FUCK did you) then your first encounter with him will have been as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, weeping blood and pounding Daniel Craig’s fella with a big, thick veiny rope. Though he wasn’t given a great deal to chew on, he still delivered a stunning and nuanced performance, a man barely keeping it together under staggering pressure.

You may also have seen him play a mute, one-eyed Norseman called One-Eye who fights and has one eye in frequent collaborator Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising, a film that tanked because no-one expected it to actually be good and have meaning and that.

Failing that, perhaps you caught the utterly superb Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky; one of the best films of 2010, it featured a gripping performance from Mads as the cold-as-ice note-manipulating genius behind ‘The Rite of Spring’. It’s safe to say the man’s got range.

What you might not know:

Superlative time: Mads Mikkelsen is arguably the greatest actor of his generation. You do have to dig a little to find the full extent of this aforementioned greatness, though. Take his work with Suzanne Bier, for example. He’s mesmerizing in both After the Wedding and Open Hearts, busting out the most convincing drunk acting ever committed to celluloid in the latter film. Then there’s both his performances as Tonny in Winding Refn’s Pusher films, a character who not only represents the polar opposite of pretty much every character Mads has ever played (except possibly One-Eye) but also goes through more emotional development in two short films than most actual people manage in a lifetime.

Unfortunately, his career in mainstream English language cinema, Bond aside, has been marred by either a lack of decent offers or perhaps just bad choices. As if his minor role in The Most Squandered Cast in Cinema History – step up, Clash of the Titans – wasn’t bad enough, he’s playing Rochefort in the soon-to-be-appalling The Three Musketeers, a character that will doubtless be given absolutely nothing to do. Maybe he feels more comfortable in foreign language films, and just needs a new kitchen. Maybe he’s just a fan of Paul WS Anderson.

Mads Mikkelsen quote:

I did a crazy version of Romeo and Juliet once, and I played Romeo. There was always a young crowd in there, and one day when we went out holding hands [for the curtain call], 40 actors, the whole back row in this enormous place started booing like crazy. We all looked at each other: “Oh man, who is it they hate?”

What to say at a dinner party:

“His work in mainland Europe has proven time and time again that he is capable of breadth and nuance unmatched by any actor working today. If only he was trusted with more challenging lead roles in English language features; he has the potential to go down as one of the greats.”

What not to say at a dinner party:

“Huh, subtitles? If I wanted to read I’d go to the library. Which I never would.”

Final thought:

As far as subtlety, nuance and diversity go, there’s no-one quite like Mads. He’s pulled off more jaw-dropping performances in the last ten years than the entire south of England. If he keeps churning them out like this I think we can forgive the odd phoned-in performance in a rubbish blockbuster, even if we have to read as well as watch WHICH IS FINE.
One more thing; he’s also the goodwill ambassador for Refugees United. Best Actor of his Generation and Friend to Refugees. He’s probably a spectacular lay, too.


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