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Cannes 2012: Best Actor Winner Mads Mikkelsen Talks Vinterberg's "The Hunt," T-Mobile Film "Move On," Playing a Psycho Husband

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood May 27, 2012 at 4:29PM

Mads Mikkelsen was in Cannes to promote two projects. The first, Competition entry, "The Hunt," marks a strong return to form for Thomas Vinterberg and features a potent performance from the Danish actor as a mild-mannered kindergarten teacher whose life is turned upside down by an arbitrary accusation that he’s sexually abusing children.
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Mads Mikkelsen
Mads Mikkelsen

Mads Mikkelsen was in Cannes to promote two projects. The first, Competition entry, "The Hunt," marks a strong return to form for ex-Dogme practitioner Thomas Vinterberg and features a potent performance from the Danish actor as a mild-mannered kindergarten teacher whose life is turned upside down by an arbitrary accusation that he’s sexually abusing children. As you can see from the Q & A below, the last thing Mikkelson expected was to take home the Best Actor prize for "The Hunt."

The second is "Move On," a road movie with a difference that will be shot across eight European countries in 30 days this summer. The difference is that the production is being funded by mobile phone company T-Mobile and that user interaction will be encouraged to steer and shape the narrative during the production, with participants in each country able to offer up suggestions about locations, casting and music and the best incorporated into the shoot.

Directed by another Dane, Asger Leth ("Man On A Ledge"), "Move On" will go out in eight six-to-10 minute webisodes before being cut together into a feature. Mikkelsen has been cast as the lead, an “international man of mystery” attempting to deliver the mysterious contents of a silver suitcase to a shadowy Mr. Big and encountering thrills, danger and women along the way. Leth has mentioned the vibe of Drive as an inspiration.

After we finish chatting, Mikkelsen was supposed to head straight to Bucharest to start shooting "The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman" opposite Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood, taking on another villainous role of the sort that keep coming his way in the wake of "Casino Royale." And it’s just been announced that he’s in discussions too for the key baddie role in "Thor 2." But obviously, Mikkelson turned up Sunday night for the closing night award ceremony.

"The Hunt" is getting a great reception but were you worried before you came how it would be received?
I think Thomas made a fantastic film and he deserves every good response that he’s getting. We’ve been over the moon but not super surprised because we knew it was good. But we’re happy that people saw it the way we did. So far it’s been a journey of joy.

Your performance, too, is deservedly being singled out.
Thank you, that means a lot. There have been a lot of compliments. It’s a tough theme. The theme is an unbearable one so the fact that there’s a lot of talk about it means hopefully we can sell it and people can eventually see it.

Thomas had to leave Cannes early because his wife’s about to deliver and you’re leaving too. Will anyone be here on Sunday if there’s an award in the offing?
The buzz is good but there are 21 films in Competition and they’re all good so if we come in 2nd, 3rd or 21st, we don’t care because we’re in the group of tremendous directors and tremendous films. We know we’re up against some big boys. If we get something, we will be really happy; if not, we’re still really happy.

So why did you get involved in "Move On"?
I like Asger, we’ve known each other for many years. And there’s a rock ‘n’ roll feeling to this. People out there will be part of it which is going to be new to all of us. They’re not going to take us in a direction that is totally fucked up but they might come with some inputs I like: ‘That’s not bad, let’s try that.’ It’s hard to have that kind of openness in a film but we will try it and I’m sure something will come out of that will be surprising for us.

Do you think it can be something more than a corporate branding extension?
Well, that’s our mission. I don’t think any of us have the ambition of just standing there and become spokespeople. We will find something that we enjoy; whether it’s going to be a solid film narrative or just something that’s cool to watch, I don’t know yet.

Who are you playing in "The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman"? (Spoiler alert)
Shia and Evan play a young couple who find each other, and I turn up fairly late in the story and am the husband of the young girl. She has not seen me for two years and to put it mildly, my character is a bit on the jealous side.

Is he the kind of guy who would give your character in "The Hunt" a hard time?
Oh, my character in Jagten ("The Hunt") would not be alive if this guy showed up. He’s a real psycho.

I’ve spotted your photo in a few Cannes party shots… having a good time here?
I’ve been working! I’ve been selling myself – in certain ways – and the film. I went to one party yesterday, but the other times I’ve been here with no film in the Competition have been much more unhealthy for my liver than this time.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Festivals, Festivals, Awards


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.