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Mads Mikkelsen Talks 'The Hunt' (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 18, 2014 at 1:06PM

Oscar-nominated "The Hunt" star Mads Mikkelsen combines a rare set of skills: the athleticism of a trained dancer, acrobat and gymnast and the sensitivity of a theater actor. See exclusive video below.
Mads Mikkelsen
Mads Mikkelsen

Oscar-nominated "The Hunt" star Mads Mikkelsen combines a rare set of skills: the athleticism of a trained dancer, acrobat and gymnast and the sensitivity of a theater actor. After graduating from drama school in Denmark at age 30 he starred in fellow Dogma believer Nicolas Winding Refn's "Pusher" films, and later in the almost silent "Valhalla Rising" (he'd like to work with the director again). He broke out in two Susanne Bier films, "Open Hearts" and "After the Wedding," which earned an Academy Award nomination.

He went on to play a Bond villain in "Casino Royale," and survived fighting green-screen scorpions in "Clash of the Titans," the mark of a true star. He can be dangerous and violent, deranged and funny, mighty warrior or tender lover. He likes to strip away extra layers to the lean meat of a performance. After nine years as a dancer, "emotional stuff gets in my body somehow," he says. "I see so many cases where if you chase the dream you can't catch it but if the dream is in the work, you will sleep a happy man."

Mads Mikkelsen in "The Hunt"
Mads Mikkelsen in "The Hunt."

"Everything I've done is a stepping stone to what I do today," he said at the Telluride Film Festival, where he had a tribute and spoke to me on the flipcam (below). He was about to move with his family to Toronto for a year to play the title character on "Hannibal." On the NBC TV series, "we get away with a lot," he said.

He's performed credibly in Danish, French, Russian and English. Now Mikkelsen is on the cusp of global stardom, having won the Best Actor prize at Cannes in 2012 for his penetrating portrayal of a decent school teacher whose life is shattered when he is falsely accused of being a pedophile in Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt" (2013), cowritten by Tobias Lindholm ("A Hijacking"). One spreading lie throws his community into a state of hysteria as his friends ostracize him and the teacher fights back against the witch-hunt alone.         

Mikkelsen's last film, the Danish hit "A Royal Affair," was also nominated for an Oscar. It tells the true history of an enlightened intellectual doctor who not only took care of his country's addlepated king, but slept with his wife. Both Magnolia pick-ups played at last year's Telluride and Toronto Festivals, but Denmark held back the release of "The Hunt," which won the Best Screenwriter prize at the 2012 European Film Awards, until July 2013.  

Now "The Hunt" is a strong contender for this year's foreign Oscar. (See also our interview with director Thomas Vinterberg, here.)

This article is related to: Interviews, The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen, Interviews , Telluride Film Festival, Telluride, Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto, Festivals, Festivals

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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.