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
Local

MAP: New York City street closures, September 19,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on September 19, 20 and 21. There will be many streets and…

Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…