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

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…