If you think of the Danish star of film and television Mads Mikkelsen, chances are that you think of either a James Bond villain or Hannibal Lecter, or perhaps both. While these two roles are perhaps his most memorable, he’s actually appeared in more movies than you may imagine.
Mikkelsen didn’t begin his career in acting until he was in his 30s. Before this, he was a dancer and gymnast. As a youngster, a career in gymnastics or athletics had always been his goal.
However, he didn’t quite make it but decided to put his talents to good use, going on to study dance at a ballet academy in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, where he also learned to speak Swedish.
He then worked as a professional dancer for close to ten years before deciding to pursue a career in acting, which saw him enter theatre school in his home country’s second largest city, Åarhus in 1996, when aged 31.
His first big break came when he appeared in a production of King Arthur in 2004. But of course, his finest and biggest moment was playing James Bond’s enemy Le Chiffre in the 2006 movie Casino Royale.
The movie and Mikkelsen’s role in it are both best remembered for the high stakes poker game scene. This is one of a number of casino games scenes in the movie which are pivotal moments for the development of the plot – and for Mikkelsen to truly show us his remarkable acting prowess.
James Bond attempts to make Le Chiffre bankrupt – but things don’t exactly go his way, at first anyway. Of course, in the end, the movie plays out as all other Bond films do, with the hero winning against treachery and deceit. Casino Royale has to be Mads Mikkelsen’s best single movie moment to date.
Since then, Mikkelsen has appeared in a number of movies which have really helped bring him critical acclaim.
In 2008, he was nominated for the Best Actor award in the European Film Awards for his role as World War Two Danish resistance fighter Jørgen Haagen Schmith in Flame & Citron.
Perhaps most notably, he was renowned for his role as Igor Stravinsky in the 2008 French movie Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. He has also won a Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his part as Lucas in The Hunt, a 2012 thriller set in a small Danish town at Christmas time.
Perhaps, though, Mikkelsen’s best movie moments are still ahead of him? Aged 48, in robust good health and with a completely unique look and personality, the sky looks to be the limit for Mikkelsen over the next couple of decades as he capitalises on his remarkable progress thus far.
It’s his uniqueness that makes him such a strong character for various villainous roles – though he also runs the risk of becoming overly typecast. Nevertheless, most true movie fans can’t wait to see more of Mads Mikkelsen.