Interview: Mads Mikkelsen on 'Doctor Strange', 'Star Wars' and 'Hannibal'

Interview: Mads Mikkelsen on 'Doctor Strange', 'Star Wars' and 'Hannibal'

Doctor Strange

Image via Disney

Doctor Strange

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen is one of Europe’s most celebrated cinema talents, starring in acclaimed art house films like The Hunt, A Royal Affair and Pusher, as well as being a trained ballet dancer and gymnast. But he has a parallel career in America, usually playing freaky bad guys, like in Casino Royale or the lead role in Hannibal. He’s soon to be seen in two films at the tail end of 2016 — in December he’s in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but before that you can see him in the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange. Mikkelsen plays Kaecilius, the villain taking on Benedict Cumberbatch’s master of the mystic arts. 

We caught up with Mikkelsen when he was in London to promote Doctor Strange, to talk Marvel, martial arts and saying goodbye to Hannibal Lecter.

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I’ve heard that the main reason you wanted to do this film was that you got to kung fu and action scenes — is that right?

From the age of seven I thought I was Bruce Lee. As a kid I'd spent all my time running up the wall spooning around doing tricks. So when this came along and {director} Scott Derrickson pitched it to me and he said the words "Flying Kung Fu", I was sold completely.

I’m surprised you didn’t get to do more action when you were in a James Bond film…

I was actually hoping that there would be more stuff like hanging from a helicopter in that. The most physically dramatic thing I did in that was folding two aces.

What was it like doing your own stunts?

It was fantastic. Flying around, pretending you're Bruce Lee, this could not be a better combination for me. And if they took away all my stunts and said that they had a stunt guy to do them, it would have killed me. If you really can't do it, they will take over. But I was a gymnast, I could do it!

Doctor Strange is pretty weird and visually out there for a mainstream superhero film — more like the sort of interesting European films you might do. Is that something that attracted you to it?

I think that was definitely part of it. Let me put it this was — if it wasn’t, I probably would have still said yes, because I love the Marvel Universe. But I am a fan of things that are a bit more psychedelic or weird or whatever you call it. It is not as out there as the Dr Strange comic books, but it certainly has that flavour.

The film has some incredible CGI visuals — is it hard to act on a green screen with none of that around you?

We have it to a degree. We can only imagine so much. There was also a little animated version the director made that he showed us before did it, so we have a fairly good idea of what the geography of everything is. But I could not imagine what the effects team has done. I had my hopes, but when saw the film the other day I was blown away.

You’ve gone from James Bond to Marvel to Star Wars. Are you amazed that you’ve got to be in all these beloved franchises? 

A little bit. They are all, by their own right, individual pieces of art, but also part of the pop culture. I never thought that would happen to me. I never saw it coming!

Doctor Strange

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