Many Faces of Mads

PROFILE. Mads Mikkelsen is used to being judged for his performances. However, as a member of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival, he's the one doing the judging for once. This new role provides the perfect opportunity to take a look at some of the many roles and faces of the versatile actor.

Mads Mikkelsen's cool traits served him well as the enigmatic crook Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. Photo: Jay Maidment

"You're not good looking. You have an interesting face," Stellan Skarsgård once said to Mads Mikkelsen.

Luckily, the actor has proven great ability to put his "interesting" appearance to good use in a long and impressive career in Danish, as well as international cinema. We've handpicked some of the actor's most noteworthy faces over the years.

"Men & Chicken". Photo: Rolf Konow


Men & Chicken (2015)

In "Men & Chicken," Mikkelsen plays Elias, who is a rather special individual with a compulsion to hit people with stuffed animals, and who, like his brothers, has a cleft lip and palate. This pitch-black comedy picks up the thread from director Anders Thomas Jensen's three previous features, which also focus on the nature and beauty of the oddball.

The salvation_450fokus
Photo: Jow Alblas

The Salvation (2014)

Here's Mikkelsen hanging in Kristian Levring's "The Salvation," in which he plays Jon who turns from peaceful settler to vengeful hunter with a grim face and dusty clothes. "The Salvation" was shown out of competition in Cannes in 2014.

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"The Hunt". Photo: Per Arnesen

The Hunt (2012)

Mikkelsen's character, Lucas, starts out looking like a nice normal guy. But the actor's face soon proves to be the perfect canvas for depicting the effects of Lucas' downfall after he becomes the victim of a witch hunt. Over the course of the story, as Lucas is physically assaulted and his psyche slowly crumbles, Mikkelsen's face convincingly displays the complete destruction of a man through grief, pain, exhaustion, hopelessness and physical scarring. Thomas Vinterberg's drama won Mikkelsen the Best Actor award at Cannes 2012.

"Valhalla Rising". Photo: Dean Rogers

Valhalla Rising (2006)

Mikkelsen's character doesn't say a single word in the entire film, making the physical appearance of this supernaturally powerful warrior all the more crucial. You can't help but focus on it. His mutilated body and face, especially the brutal scarring around his missing eye, stand out, adding character and physicality, even if it isn't pleasant to look at. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, who also made Mikkelsen's breakthrough film, "Pusher," in 1996.

"Casino Royale" Photo: 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.

"Adams' apples" Photo: Rolf Konow

Adam's 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.

de grønne slagtere
"The Green Butchers". Photo: Rolf Konow

The Green Butchers (2003)

Svend, in Anders Thomas Jensen's black comedy, is hardly a dreamboat. His inferiority complex and flawed personality – he eventually adds human flesh to the wares in his butcher shop – along with his steeply receding hairline and heavy sweating makes Svend a highly unflattering character.

"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.

This is an updated compilation of two earlier articles: The Faces of Mads Mikkelsen, first published in FILM Berlin Issue 2012 and 5 X Mads Mikkelsen, written by Lea Mosegaard and first published in August 2015.

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Tags: Cannes 2016