Danish heartthrob Mads Mikkelsen is famous all over the world for playing the evil Le Chiffre in the 21st James Bond film “Casino Royale” (2006), which starred Daniel Craig as the attractive super spy. Mads said about his character in the film, “Every good character, if it's good or bad, they have to have that dualism inside of them. If you play the baddie, you have to find something likeable about them, and that goes with the good guy as well, find something unlikable and that's what we tried to do with this one as well.”
Entering Danish cinema in the mid-1990s, the former gymnast and dancer quickly made an impact thanks to his supporting role of Kim Bodnia's cheerful partner, Tonny, in Nicolas Winding Refn's hit “Pusher” (1996). He went on to deliver promising performances in such vehicles as “Flickering Lights” (2000), “Shake It All About” (2001, earned a Zulu Award), “I Am Dina” (2002), “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself” (2003, won a Zulu Award), “Open Hearts” (2002, nabbed a Rouen Nordic Film Festival Award, a Bodil nomination and a Robert nomination) and “The Green Butchers” (2003, received a Fantasporto Award and a Bodil nomination). After making his Hollywood debut in “King Arthur” (2004), opposite Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, Mikkelsen recreated his role of Tonny in “Pusher II” (2004), from which he was handed a Bodil Award and a Robert Award. His more recent and upcoming film credits include the Toronto-premiered “Adam's Apples” (2005, earned a Robert nomination), “After the Wedding” (2006, netted a European Film nomination and a Robert nomination), “Prag” (2006, won both a Bodil and Robert nomination), “Flammen & Citronen” (2008, earned a European Film nomination), “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” (2009), “Valhalla Rising” (2009) and “Die Tür” (2009). He will return to the American cinema with “Clash of the Titans” (2010). Rarely appearing on TV, Mikkelsen was popular as Allan Fischer in the Emmy winning Danish police series “Unit 1” (2000-2004).
“We make about 25 films a year. For a small country of 5 million people, it's good. They all have been released in theatres, strong governmental support. I think it enables us to make a lot of different films every year and I think that's what makes a strong industry. We have like 35-40% of people watching films are Danish films and the rest will be American and English.” Mads Mikkelsen (on the Danish film industry)
Childhood and Family:
Mads Dittman Mikkelsen was born on November 22, 1965, in Copenhagen, Denmark. His first name is a form of Matthew which means “Gift of God.” His father, Henning Mikkelsen (born in 1938), appeared in the Danish film “Brutal Incasso” (2005), which was directed by Jonas Kvist Jensen and co-written by Jensen and star Kim Sønderholm. Mads is the younger brother of actor Lars Mikkelsen (born on May 6, 1964). He graduated from Århus Theatre School in 1996.
At age 22, in 1987, Mads married Hanne Jacobsen, a Danish dancer. They have two daughters. Mads has two nephews from his older brother's marriage to actress Anette Støvelbæk.
Mads was a gymnast from age 9 to 20. He also plays handball and is an intense motorcyclist. He owns a rare 1937 Danish Nimbus. Commenting about his motorbike, he said, “It is like something Steve McQueen would ride. I love the freedom and it doesn't go quite as fast as a modern bike, which pleases my wife.”
9-year-old Mads Mikkelsen discovered an interest in gymnastics, a sport he participated in until his early twenties. He then switched to dance and became a professional dancer for eight years before eventually discovering acting. After completing his studies at the Århus Theatre School, the then 31-year-old thespian broke into the Danish film industry with small parts in “Café Hector” (1996), alongside his real-life brother Lars, and the Robert Festival Award-winner “Blomsterfangen/The Glass House Prisoner” (1996).
Mikkelsen's big breakthrough arrived later that same year when he landed the famed supporting role of Tonny, the light-hearted sidekick to drug dealer Frank (played by Kim Bodnia), in the crime film “Pusher.” Directed by the first timer Nicolas Winding Refn, the film was a hit in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the U.K. and Spain.
Following the massive success of “Pusher,” Mikkelsen got a leading role in the Simon Staho-directed feature “Vildspor” (1998), in which he played Jimmy, the childhood friend of the pleasing desperado Ossy (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The film was nominated for the Grand Prix at the 1999 Salerno International Film Festival. However, he returned to a supporting role in “Nattens engel/Angel of the Night” (1998), an unsatisfying Danish vampire flick helmed by Shaky González and starring Maria Stokholm. The next year saw him star as Tom Merritt in the 6-minute Western film of the same name and reunited with “Pusher” director and costar Nicolas Winding Refn and Kim Bodnia, respectively, in the noted drama “Bleeder,” which won notice at local and international festivals.
In 2000, Mikkelsen played Arnie, one of four small gangsters from Copenhagen who trick a mobster boss, in the action comedy “Blinkende lygter/Flickering Lights,” for filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen. Also starring with him in the Robert Festival's Audience Award-winner were Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Sofie Gråbøl. It was also in 2000 that Mikkelsen first appeared on television when he landed the regular role of Allan Fischer in “Rejseholdet/Unit 1,” a crime series that ran in Denmark from 2000 to 2004. The show won a 2002 International Emmy in the category of Best Drama Series and brought the actor overnight popularity and an Annual Television Award for Best Actor at the 2002 Tvfestival.dk.
After appearing in “Monas verden” (2001), a comedy from director Jonas Elmer, Mikkelsen gained acclaim for his starring role of Jacob, a gay man who falls for a woman, in the award winning “En kort en lang/Shake It All About” (2001). Under the direction of Danish comedian Hella Joof, he picked up a Zulu for Best Actor (Årets danske skuespiller) for his acting effort in the film. The Copenhagen-born performer next teamed up with Gerard Depardieu in Ole Bornedal's drama “I Am Dina” (2002) and with British comedian Julia Davis in the Scottish-Danish film “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself” (2002), directed by Lone Scherfig. However, it was his portrayal of Neils in “Elsker dig for evigt/Open Hearts” (2002) that garnered him extensive rave reviews. For his good performance, Mikkelsen took home the Best Actor Award at the 2003 Rouen Nordic Film Festival and nominations in the same category at the Robert Festival and the Bodil Awards. Directed by Susanne Bier and written by Anders Thomas Jensen, the gritty drama was very well-received by critics and won both the Bodil and Robert awards for Best Danish Film of 2003.
2003 found Mikkelsen playing young Jakob in the Simon Staho short “Nu,” Far in “Dykkerdrengen/The Boy Below,” a 30-minute drama which won the Best Short Feature Award at the 2003 Odense International Film Festival and the Best Short Story Film (Årets novellefilm) Award at the 2003 Robert Festival, and butcher Svend in “De grønne slagtere/The Green Butchers,” a black comedy directed and written by Anders Thomas Jensen. He netted a Fantasporto's Directors' Week Award for Best Actor and a Bodil nomination in the category of Best Actor for his work in the latter film. Still that same year, Mikkelsen could be seen as Magnus in the Spanish/Danish comedy film “Torremolinos 73,” which was directed and written by Pablo Berger.
Mikkelsen made his American debut as Tristan in “King Arthur,” which was directed by Antoine Fuqua, written by David Franzoni, and starred Clive Owen as the title character. The film received mixed reviews from critics and was a modest success at the box office. He returned to the Danish cinema the following year when he reprised his role of Tonny in the sequel “Pusher II” (2005), for which Mikkelsen was handed a Bodil for Best Actor and a Robert in the same category. He gained additional attention in Anders Thomas Jensen's “Adams æbler/Adam's Apples” (2005), which became the Danish selection as Best Foreign Film at the 2006 Academy Awards and debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. For his role as a neurotic priest named Ivan, the gifted actor was nominated for a Robert Award for Best Supporting Actor (Årets mandlige birolle). Also that year, he revisited the small screen by playing Julie's dad in the short-lived family series “Julie.”
Mikkelsen was reunited with “Open Hearts” director Susanne Bier for the 2006 Danish drama “Efter brylluppet/After the Wedding,” in which he was cast in the starring role of Jacob Pederson. The film was popular and a critical success and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Mikkelsen received a Best Actor nomination at the 2006 European Film Awards and a Robert nomination in the same category. He continued to offer a noticeable starring performance as Christoffer in the small film “Prag” (2006), for which he picked up a Bodil and a Robert nomination, and played the lead of Thomas Skepphult in the Swedish thriller “Exit” (2006), which was based on a novel by Jesper Kärrbrink.
Still in 2006, Mikkelsen's popularity skyrocketed when he landed the prominent role of Le Chiffre, James Bond's enemy, in the Daniel Craig debut as 007, “Casino Royale.” Directed by Martin Campbell, the film was well-received by critics and grossed over $594 million internationally, with an estimated original budget of $150 million. Recalling the audition process for “Casino Royale,” Mads stated, I couldn't make it for the first couple of auditions because I was working on a revenge film in Prague, so I just thought that I might be number 2,000 on the list, but they kept calling me back three times. Eventually I made it. I was dressed up and I was about to do a scene with Daniel [Craig], but at that time, they've all seen my work and they were quite busy, so I got the job without doing the casting, which was kind of an anti-climax, but still, I enjoyed that.”
Mikkelsen resurfaced after “Casino Royale” in “Flammen & Citronen,” a 2008 WWII-era drama directed by Ole Christian Madsen. He received a European Film nomination for Best Actor for his role as Citronen. He next played Igor Stravinsky in the French film “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” (2009), opposite Anna Mouglalis as Coco Chanel. Adapted from the 2002 novel “Coco & Igor” by Chris Greenhalgh, the film was selected as the Closing Film of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. In “Valhalla Rising” (2009), which reunited him with “Pusher” director Nicolas Winding Refn, he was cast alongside Gary Lewis and Andrew Flanagan.
Mads has completed filming “Die Tür” (2009), in which he portrayed David. He is scheduled to work with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in the Hollywood fantasy “Clash of the Titans” (2010), a remake of the 1981 film of the same name. In the movie, he will portray Draco, the leader of the Praetorian Guard.
Bodil: Best Actor (Bedste mandlige hovedrolle), “Pusher II,” 2005
Robert Festival: Robert, Best Actor (Årets mandlige hovedrolle), “Pusher II,” 2005
Fantasporto: Directors' Week Award, Best Actor, “De grønne slagtere/The Green Butchers,” 2004
Rouen Nordic Film Festival: Best Actor, “Elsker dig for evigt/Open Hearts,” 2003
Zulu: Best Supporting Actor (Årets danske mandlige birolle), “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself,” 2003
Zulu: Best Actor (Årets danske skuespiller), “En kort en lang/Shake It All About,” 2002
Tvfestival.dk: Annual Television Award, Best Actor, “Rejseholdet,” 2002