Faces of Mads Mikkelsen

PROFILE. "You’re not good looking. You have an interesting face." Stellan Skarsgård spoke these words to Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the lead in Thomas Vinterberg's Cannes competitor "The Hunt", at the 2011 European Film Awards in Berlin. We've handpicked a few films that show proof of the Danish actor's versatility.

Mads Mikkelsen, born 1965, was a professional dancer for eight years before entering theatre school. He graduated in 1996 and had his breakthrough that same year in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Pusher". Mikkelsen starred in several more films by Refn and has worked with Danish directors such as Anders Thomas Jensen, Susanne Bier and Ole Christian Madsen. In 2006 he shot to international stardom as Bond villain Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale" and has since acted in a handful of international productions.

Read about Mikkelsen in a selection of films, starting from his debut feature "Pusher":

Pusher Photo: Dick Lyngsie

Pusher / 1996

In Nicolas Winding Refn’s debut film, a thriller from the mean streets of Copenhagen, Mikkelsen plays Tonny, the mouthy, inept crony of small-time drug dealer Frank (Kim Bodnia). When a deal turns bad, a downward spiral begins and brings everything tumbling down into chaos. Mikkelsen creates "a striking portrayal of blustering infantilism," as one critic wrote.

De-Groenne-SlagterePhoto: Rolf Konow

The Green Butchers / 2003

Less than flattering, Mikkelsen’s character Svend in Anders Thomas Jensen’s morbid comedy is chronically sweating and driven by an inferiority complex that proves fatal – for others. Starting their own butcher’s shop, Svend and his pal Bjarne struggle to get business started, until a bizarre coincidence leads Svend to concoct a new dish with a very special ingredient. Customers flock to the counter for their “green" delicatesse, but will Svend and Bjarne be able to keep up stock of this secret component?

Adams-AeblerPhoto: Rolf Konow

Adams' apples / 2005

Mads Mikkelsen is Father Ivan in Anders Thomas Jensen's absurdist fable about good and evil. A pathological optimist, Ivan takes in the neo Nazi Adam who has been sentenced to twelve weeks of community service. Mikkelsen's benevolent preacher man Ivan and Ulrich Thomsen's tattooed skinhead Adam is a catchy set-up.

Casino-Royal-Mads-MikkelsenPhoto: Jay Maidment 

Casino Royale / 2006

Mads Mikkelsen's cool traits seem to be perfectly at ease with the enigmatic persona of 007 arch-villain Le Chiffre, banker to the world's terrorist organizations, who cries tears of blood. Mikkelsen's understated devilry acts as a perfect counterpart to Daniel Craig's no less inscrutable poker face

VALHALLARISING-Mads-MikkelsPhoto: Dean Rogers 

Valhalla Rising / 2006

100 minutes and not a single word. Mikkelsen plays a larger-than-life hero, a mute one-eyed warrior of supernatural strength who escapes enslavement and boards a Viking vessel bound for unknown shores. "My focus was on the physical presence. In that sense, it was more like a dance performance," Mikkelsen said.

Photo: Ole Kragh Jacobsen

After the wedding / 2006

In Susanne Bier’s Oscar nominated drama Mikkelsen displays a subdued naturalism as the idealistic and slightly introvert Jacob who has dedicated his life to helping street children in India. When the orphanage he heads is threatened by closure, he receives an unusual offer which brings him back to Denmark, where a wedding catapults him into the most intense dilemma of his life.

This story originally appeared in the Berlin issue of our festival magazine FILM (February, 2012).