Mads Mikkelsen is one of the most versatile actors working today. This Danish gem is probably best-known in the States as the most sophisticated cannibal, Hannibal Lecter in NBC's #Hannibal. However before he was in the world of acting however, he was a gymnast and a dancer. Because of his talent, he quickly came to prominence in Denmark when he played the role of Tonny, a drug-dealer in the Danish trilogy Pusher.
While Mikkelsen is already known for starring in independent quality cinema, his widespread recognition didn't grow until he starred as the Bond villain Le Chiffre in 2006 film Casino Royale. This year, is a big year for the Danish actor. Just after the success of Marvel's #DoctorStrange where he played the sorcerer Kaecilius, we saw him again as the rebel Galen Erso in Disney's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Mikkelsen already has critical acclaim and widespread recognition both in the TV and movie world; the two blockbuster movies I mentioned might just kickstart a future of a larger fan-following and worldwide recognition. If these movies (and the Hannibal series) have made you a Mads Mikkelsen fan and you'd like to see more of his versatility as an actor, take a look below at 10 of his great films that you absolutely must watch after #RogueOne:
10. Pusher Trilogy (1996, 2004, 2005)
The Pusher trilogy explored the criminal world of Copenhagen. It's as dark and gritty as one would expect, and each of the sequels focuses on a different character from the original film. It also launched the careers of the director Nicolas Winding Refn and Mads Mikkelsen.
The first Pusher, is all about Frank (Kim Bodnia), a mid-level drug dealer who sells heroin with his sidekick Tonny (Mikkelsen). Frank owed money and dope from the Serbian druglord, Milo, but his deal went awry when police arrived. Tonny went to prison, and Frank is left with only a few days to pay his debt to Milo, otherwise he's dead.
Pusher II on the other hand, focused on Tonny and his life after prison, following the events after the first film. After being set free, he attempts to reconcile with his estranged gangster father, pay his debts and try to be a good father himself. Though everything continued to be shitty for him, we assume that he turns his life around after he takes his baby with him, and leaves the city, never to look back.
Though the the third and final film, Pusher III doesn't really revolve around the story of Mads Mikkelsen's character, it tells the story of the ruthless man that caused their problems. Pusher III follows the aging Serbian drug lord, Milo. In the first and second films, we learn that Milo is a ruthless man, and in the third film we see that he'll do anything for his spoiled daughter. On top of that, we see Milo's side of the story. Now practically ancient, he struggles to stay on top of his game as the drug 'King of Copenhagen.'
9. Shake It All About (2001)
We're used to seeing Mads Mikkelsen play roles in action, period, and drama, but back in Denmark he also starred in rom-coms!
What happens if you're just so damn charming? For Jacob (Mikkelsen) it can stir up trouble. For years Jacob has been in a long term relationship with Jørgen (Troels Lyby) and one night, he proposes. However after Jacob mets Jørgen's sister-in-law and the two get a little too close, things get more complicated. At times during the film you'd love to slap Jacob, given how obvious it is that he's used to getting what he wants, but at the same time you can't help but sympathize with him because it really ain't easy to just make up your mind!
8. The Green Butchers (2003)
Mads Mikkelsen starred in a comedic feat yet again in The Green Butcher directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. At some point in our lives, we've probably heard chilling stories of cannibalism, such as someone opening butcher shop and selling all kinds of strange delicious meat. And while the story varies, The Green Butcher follows such a tale. Far from his more modern and sophisticated cannibal-of-all-trades in the Hannibal series, Mads Mikkelsen is comical here as the butcher, Svend.
Although the story is an acquired taste, the dialogue is witty, and sometimes you'll even forget that Svend and his partner Bjarne (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) even sell human meat under the name 'chicky-wickies.' If you're a Mads Mikkelsen fan and you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend that you do, there's just a certain charm to it that will keep you glued to your screen, whether you like Svend's chicky-wickies or not.
7. A Royal Affair (2012)
We all love stories of kings and queens who lived happily ever after, but history tell us otherwise. Kings and queens often ended up in tragedies, and A Royal Affair is such one of the story that tells its audience there's no such thing as "happily ever after," at least among the royals in the previous centuries.
A Royal Affair dramatically captures the historical political turbulence and the enlightenment during the 18th century. It may be categorized as historical fiction, but the characters are based on real life intermarriage between the mentally ill young king Christian VII of Denmark and Princess Caroline Matilda of Britain, and their relationships to a German doctor Johann Friedrich Struensee. The film shows the usual love triangle, except there's no embellishing here, it's all straight up history. Mikkelsen plays the role of Johann Friedrich Struensee, a German doctor who cured Christian VII with his many illnesses but unfortunately not his severe mental condition.
Mikkelsen with his stoic look, appropriately projected the elderly and intelligent Struensee. However, he could not resist the charm of the young queen, played by the beautiful Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, Testament of the Youth). As always, Mikkelsen shows the versatility of his eyes in all situation.
6. Prague (2006)
Prague, directed by Ole Madsen, stars Mads Mikkelsen as Christoffer and Stein Stengade as Maja, Christoffer’s adulterous wife. The pair are both in their 40s and both most likely suffering from mid-life crises. Although it was not nominated to any awards, Mads proves his versatility once again in this movie about love, lust, lies and deception.
Prague is not only focused on the deteriorating relationship between husband and wife, but also on the pain of discovering the reasons why Christoffer's father left his family when he was 12-years-old. Although his mother never spoke negatively about his father, Christoffer uncovers the truth after receiving a call from Prague, is is needed to identify a body suspected to be his father's.
Mikkelsen plays the character of Christoffer well. His seemingly unmoving and unpredictable ways portrays the character of a person who has known disappointment. His actions, the movements of his eyes and lips and his blank stares give the impression that he even questions himself.
The movie shows the beauty of the city of Prague and it's a fitting setting for the moods of the characters.
5. Men & Chicken (2015)
Men & Chicken is one extremely bizarre comedy, and it's hilarious to see Mad Mikkelsen in this crazy comedy even before finding out the what kind of genes run in his "family." Mikkelsen's character, Elias has multiple half-siblings, all with different mothers, but that isn’t the strangest part of all! Their children's father may be super smart, working on research for stem cell treatment, but the creation of hybrid animals and unethical experiments on women just to produce children seems like a plot straight out of a horror movie. While ultimately you might ask yourself "what the fuck was that?!" after seeing it, you're sure to enjoy the dark sense of humor that Men & Chicken brings in bucketloads.
4. Valhalla Rising (2009)
Pusher director Nicolas Winding Refn and Mads Mikkelsen teamed up again in 2009 for adventure film Valhalla Rising. Despite the reviews for this film being generally positive, it sadly failed to earn back its budget.
Valhalla Rising is divided into six parts, and starts at the beginning of time when there was man and nature. The film then follows as men bearing crosses drive the heathens the edge of the earth,and we're introduced to Mikkelsen's character, the Norse warrior known only as One-Eye. Despite having a damaged eye and being mute, One-Eye's mouth twitches and expressive remaining eye do all the talking needed.
One-Eye is able to have visions, and sees himself and a mystery boy he meets while being held captive joining the Crusaders to Jerusalem but landing in North America instead. Knowing that this would meanhe would be killed in an unknown land, he walks casually in the middle of the Indian warriors, drops his axe and knife and closes his eye. As the warriors kill him, his spirit leaves his body, walks towards the estuary and disappears. The Boy watches the vision as the warriors go back to the forest.
The movie is gory, with blood and violence from the beginning till the end, ultimately showing the violence of the religions and how it's used to subdue other people.
Despite Mikkelsen's strong appeal and character, Valhalla Rising is considered a flop, however it's undoubtedly one of his most unforgettable movies, ever.
3. Flame & Citron (2008)
Movies about people from history can be complicated with issues about the accuracy of the events and characters portrayed. However, despite issues with films 'based on a true story,' historical films often go on to become fan favorites.
While the historical accuracy of Flame & Citron, directed by Ole Christian Madsen, might be heavily debated, it was the most-watched film in Denmark in 2008. Flame & Citron focuses on the World War II Danish resistance group, Holger Danske, and its fighters Bent Faurschou-Hviid, known as Flammen (played by Thure Lindhardt) and Jørgen Haagen Schmith, known as Citron (played by Mads Mikkelsen). Set in a tumultuous time, the film has themes of love, betrayal and bravely broaches the moral dilemmas during wartime.
2. After The Wedding (2006)
Danish film After the Wedding was directed by Susan Bier, and in the movie, we see Mads Mikkelsen depart from his usual distant and calculating character we've come to see him portray many times. In the role of Jacob Petersen, Mikkelsen plays a jolly yet serious humanitarian worker, managing an orphanage in India which is verging on bankruptcy. Thankfully the problem seems close to being solved after a Danish corporation offers a substantial fundingm with the caveat that Jacob must receive it personally from the Copenhagen-based CEO, Jorgen Hannson. Despite Jacob’s obvious hate with the rich, he obliges thinking that it would help the children. While in Copenhagen, Jacob is invited to the wedding of Hannson's daughter and soon a much bigger secret unveils itself.
Mikkelsen obviously did some work on his physicality in order to realistically portray a humanitarian worker in India, and even seems more rugged and seemingly uncomfortable when wearing a coat and tie. Like most of his movies, Mikkelson relies on his telling expressions to tell his story as much as he does on the dialogue, creating a compelling character.
1. The Hunt (2012)
If you want to watch a film which will have you taking a serious look at society, then be sure to check out The Hunt. The film was directed by Thomas Vinterberg, and went on to win several awards, with Mikkelsen picking up the Best Actor award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of main character, Lucas.
Set in small Danish village around Christmas, Lucas is a well-liked kindergarten employee whose world comes crashing down after one of his students makes serious (but false) claims against him. Set in a small town, where everyone knows everyone, the film sees the softly-spoken and (formerly) respected Lucas ostracized, even after he's released without charge. Joblessness and at the point of losing his relationship with his teenage son, on Christmas Day, Lucas confronts the community, posing them questions of morality.
Eventually the young student, troubled by what is happening to the community, reveals the truth in her sleep, and her father realizes Lucas's innocence. Despite this it still takes months before things seemingly return to normal, though deep down Lucas and the town know nothing will ever be the same again.
Mads Mikkelsen gives each character he portrays a certain depth that leaves audiences enthralled by even the most vile of cinematic characters he portrays. While often see him in morally ambiguous or villainous roles, his oeuvre of work proves that he's also capable in comedy, romance, and drama, a truly brilliant actor of the modern era.