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Interview with Mads Mikkelsen (Flickering Lights)





Interview with Mads Mikkelsen (Actor)

This was an even older film;what do you remember of the days of filming?
I remember it was the first time I made a comedy. This was a film directed by Anders Thomas Jensen, who was a growing factor in scriptwriting, but this was his first time as a director. You could immediately see that this was different from any other films made in Denmark before that time. He created a universe in its own reality that was not based on romantic comedy but on four friends who had nothing in common but got together for different reasons.

I remember I thought it was beautifully poetic and hysterically funny as well. Something very rare to find because if you do romantic comedy, it’s very cute. This was very poetic and funny at the same time.

How did you get to participate in the film, which actually started your long-time collaboration with the director?
I did it because I knew him personally and from different places. He was always everywhere. Always very intimidating and funny. We clicked on really well together. He has a funny way of seeing life and I believe I do as well. He asked me if I wanted to be in this film.

How did you prepare for this character and the violence he sometimes expresses?
We chose to do what we call ‘cardinal things’ in these characters. They have some extreme things in all of them, which you can see in the flashbacks.

Regarding the violence, that was easy. That was his language, what he knew and what he did. If my character had some small problem, he would kick thesh*t out of it. The approach was quite radical but it is characteristic of Anders Thomas. His characters have a way of communicating and develop from there.

This movie started your collaboration with director Anders Thomas Jensen. Do you still keep in contact? Are there any projects you would work on in the future?
We are very much in touch. He recently moved to Los Angeles and I’ve visited a few times there. The last thing we did together was Men & Chicken, which was two years ago. There was a gap of ten years where we didn’t work together.

He’s writing a project that somebody else is directing and I’m in it. We’re always working together somehow. I can’t imagine if he does anything as a director that I won’t be in it because we share so many things.

So, you’re a great tandem when it comes to cinema . . .
I think we are. He is an extremely clever and brilliant man. There is nobody like him back home and I have never seen anybody do what he does. He has a flavor of David Lynch and the Cohen Brothers but he’s still authentic. His stories evolve around small towns, small families but with giant problems.

Since this film, you’re portrayed as a villain;why do you think the industry has framed you in that category?
It’s hard to say. I’ve played more good guys or heroes than I’ve played villains in my life. I’d say that my character in Flickering Lights is not a villain at all. He’s part of a friendship ― he just has a characteristic, which is that he’s very violent. But they are all villains and criminals.

But the reason why the Americans have done that is that I think it’s quite normal for them; when you have an accent, that’s what they see you as. Sometimes it’s the French or Spanish. It used to be the English. Now it’s some of the Danes. They don’t see us as anything else but villains. But having said that, I’ve been fortunate enough to develop different characters. Hannibal is very different from the guy in Doctor Strange.

During these years, the Dogme 95 trend was gaining a lot of attention;were you ever tempted to participate in a film of that style or with Lars von Trier?
I did a Dogme film with Susanne Bier and the writer was Anders Thomas Jensen― it’s a film called Open Hearts. I was part of that but I wasn’t super eager to be part of it because it didn’t interest me too much. I was already doing films with Nicolas Winding Refn and they were in many ways much more Dogme films than the Dogme films for the mere factor that we didn’t have any money or budget. For me, all those rules were very fine to put them on the map but, as an actor, I didn’t need those rules. I mean, of course, it has to be about the story, about the characters ― if that’s not the case, I don’t see a reason why you would make a film.

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