Mads Mikkelsen looks evil in the face in ‘The Hunt’ and ‘Hannibal’

'Michael Kohlhaas' Photocall - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival Day 10
Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor at Cannes for the Danish drama “The Hunt.”
Credit: Getty Images

Mads Mikkelsen just wrapped up the first season as the latest incarnation of Hannibal Lecter on NBC’s “Hannibal,” where he heroically avoids the mannerisms of Anthony Hopkins — and, for that matter, Brian Cox, who embodied him in the 1985 film “Manhunter.”

Mikkelsen isn’t the first Scandinavian import, nor all that new: He’s already known for playing the sinister, bleeding-teared villain Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale.” He still manages to do work back home in Denmark, as he did with the drama “The Hunt,” in which he plays a man falsely accused of exposing himself to the young daughter of his best friend — a performance that netted him Best Actor at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

It’s important that the film clearly establishes that your character is not guilty.

That was our point from the beginning. Thomas [Vinterberg] and his cowriter Tobias [Lindholm] did not want to turn this into a thriller. That would have been too banal. We wanted to see the snowball effect and showing both sides, so we could make a classical drama rather than have the audience sitting on the edge, thinking, “Oh, did he do it?” We wanted to tell a story about how enormous love could turn into enormous fear and then into hate.

What were the difficulties of playing a character who can’t really react?

My character is at a difficult place where I can’t place my anger anywhere. I can’t blame the girl, I can’t blame the best friend, I can’t blame the woman who works at the school. There’s no one I can blame. You’re running into closed doors everywhere. If you scream too loud, you’re guilty. If you do nothing, you’re guilty. If you’re in the middle of the road, you‘re guilty. That’s the Kafkaesque universe of the story.

He does have a bit of a dark side. He gets indignant when accused.

Of course. He’s getting insulted. If my wife would ask me if I did something like this, I wouldn’t take that easily. I would probably do the same, and say get the f— out. In some ways he has a masculine way of dealing with this, and in some ways he does not. He treats this subject in a civilized manner. He believes the system will take care of this. And the system fails. He’s fighting against the emotions of irrational people. The one place where he mans up in the supermarket (where he gets into a fight), that’s the one time the audience goes, “Yeah, man, that’s cool!” But it’s interesting that we react like that, because he’s doing it in the uncivilized manner. It’s like we want him to be uncivilized.

For many people, even those proven to have been falsely accused, these accusations never really go away.

If he was accused of robbing a bank, he’d get a shoulder pat. “Hey, I thought for a second you robbed that bank!” But a bank is not as important as a kid. We’re so afraid today when something involves kids. It’s a little pathetic.

It’s the same thing with the war on terror. We turn our democracy into something where we’re afraid of living our free life because we’re fighting terror. And that’s exactly what it shouldn’t be. We restrict our lives.

On playing Hannibal Lecter:

It’s a different species. Hannibal is not a person. He’s basically Satan. He’s probably one of the (most) cheerful and happy characters I’ve ever played. I never carry a load back home. He’s just enjoying life. Even if he would go to jail one day, he would see that as a beautiful opportunity for a new and fresh start, to see what happens.

But we get to see him outside, and with people. I have to be a certain degree friendly and reliable around them. If that wasn’t the case, they’d point their fingers and say, “He’s the killer.” I’m already in deep s—. I have a three-piece suit. I’m an art collector. I have a funny accent. So I’m probably the killer. But we have to take it to a degree where the cops don’t look like idiots.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…

National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

The Word

Lupita Nyong'o is People's Most Beautiful

Congratulations to Lupita Nyong'o, officially the most beautiful human on the face of planet Earth (2014 season).

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

NBA

Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.

NHL

Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Jason Kidd reacts to Mike Woodson being fired…

Jason Kidd played for Mike Woodson last year and Joe Johnson spent four seasons being the main focus on offense for Woodson in Atlanta.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.