May 24, 2024

Don’t trust Mads Mikkelsen with your script.

“‘Casino Royale’ was the first screenplay with my name on every single page. Which also means that if you lose it, it’s on you. I got on a plane, started to read it and I fell asleep. Then I got out and just left it there,” he told the stunned audience at the Zurich Film Festival.

“I was lucky some cleaning person threw it away and didn’t know what it was. That could have been the end of my career, right then.”

In Martin Campbell’s 2006 smash that marked Daniel Craig’s debut as 007, Mikkelsen went on to play Le Chiffre.

“The ‘smartest’ Bond villain? He lost $100 million to a man who couldn’t play poker. Not that smart.”

“I had never watched a Bond movie up to that point and of course I lied about it. I only knew that guy with metal teeth [Jaws]. I didn’t realize how big it was until we had the premiere in London and had to meet the Queen. Or she had to meet us.”

He has seen all of them now, he said. Well, almost.

“I have seen the ones with Daniel Craig. [Back then] he was the new Bond and everything about him was ‘wrong.’ His height, his nose, his hair. I think he was glad I also came from indie films. He had a partner in crime. There was this scene where I tickled his balls with a rope. We had so many ideas and the director just looked at us: ‘Guys, come back. It’s a Bond movie’.”

He would never play Bond himself, however, even with the “fantastic” Christopher Nolan at the helm.

“If they had an issue with Daniel’s nose, I am sure they would have an issue with my accent.”

Recently, Marvel and “Star Wars” alumni added another franchise to his CV with “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”  

“For a Danish guy, it’s insane to be in these films. My friend made a list of all the franchises I’ve been in and went: ‘This one you haven’t done.’ It was ‘Indiana Jones.’ A week later, I got the phone call,” he laughed.

“It’s surreal when you think about it, so I try not to think about it. Sure, it’s Harrison Ford and he is a legend, but I will kick the shit out of him anyway.”

Watching Ford hang up his whip for good was “beautiful,” said the actor.

“We were all there when he did his very last scene as Indiana Jones. The humble man that he is, he wanted to get out of that room as fast as possible when everyone was clapping, and at the same time he wanted to stay there forever and embrace the moment.”

Despite international fame, Mikkelsen – in Zurich to promote Oscar hopeful “The Promised Land” – will continue to make films in his native Denmark. Such as Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round,” with its iconic closing scene.

“I was fighting against that scene the entire film. I hated it and I am a very stubborn man. I just couldn’t imagine a man would just get up and dance. Then Thomas said: ‘Could you shut the fuck up and do it?’ He was right and I was completely wrong,” he confessed.

“It’s my friends, my stories, my language. I have the urge to go back. You have to be careful not to make it too comfortable, though, so we always try to push each other a little further. That’s the main goal of feeling ‘comfortable.’”

He also recalled his first role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Pusher” back in 1996.

“In Denmark, we waited forever to see films like the ones we loved. For me, it was ‘Taxi Driver.’ That kind of energy wasn’t there and then this guy came along. For the first time, it was the same generation making films. At the beginning, we had to define ourselves as a unit and it was a key to our success.”

“Twenty years ago, we were used to Danes watching Danish films. Now, they travel. That’s what you want when you make art: you want people to see it. We have come a long way and it’s so gratifying.”  

Battling personal questions from the audience – “A secret to a happy marriage? Every morning at 8am, we… The secret is to love each other, simple as that” – Mikkelsen, who recently co-wrote a script for “The Black Kaiser,” admitted he would like to make a zombie movie one day.

“The problem is, I would like to be one of the zombies. And they tend to die,” he said, also sharing what keeps him grounded.  

“Fame wasn’t really on my radar. Then I did a TV show and since then, I couldn’t buy cigarettes in a normal way. It was either ‘here are your cigarettes, sir’ or ‘take your fucking cigarettes and get out’.”

“The thing is, I don’t go out feeling paranoid, because every time I completely forget I am famous. I am so pleased I have this gene.”

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