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 The Star.com Q&A (mainly Royal Affaire)

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PostSubject: The Star.com Q&A (mainly Royal Affaire)   Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:57 am

Quote :

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen on his character in A Royal Affair: "In the perspective of today, he would be a hero."

RICK MADONIK / TORONTO STAR, By: Published on Thu Jan 31 2013

Denmark’s Mads Mikkelsen can go from villainous to virtuous in an eye blink.

He was the Bond villain with the scarlet tears in Casino Royale, and he has played bad guys on many other occasions.

Mikkelsen is just as quick to wear the white hat. He won the Best Actor prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his emotional role in The Hunt of a teacher falsely accused of a sex crime.

The great Dane’s latest film, A Royal Affair, puts him somewhere in the middle, playing regal influencer Johann Friedrich Struensee opposite Mikkel Folsgaard and Alicia Vikander in a dramatization torn from the pulpy pages of Danish history.

Mikkelsen, 47, spoke to the Star during a recent visit to Toronto, where he was playing the title character in the upcoming NBC-TV series Hannibal, the prequel to the story of a certain fava-beans-and-Chianti cannibal.

Q: Before we talk about A Royal Affair, inquiring minds want to know about your TV series portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. How are you going to do this week after week?

A: I don’t know yet! We’re trying to. This is taking place before he’s captured, right? So in our situation he is a practising psychiatrist who has a path. His job is to help a young profiler who is working for the FBI and who’s very talented but having a hard time. So they hire me to help him do his work.

Q: Does Hannibal start out with Lecter as a monster?

A: It’s a fragile thing. Anthony Hopkins did (the character) to perfection and our only excuse is that we are doing it before he was in prison, so we can get away with other things. In the films, he is a monster and he’s as weird as he wants to be. We can’t do that. We have to make him a little more human, even though I’m still down the same alley and I’m still dressed in an elaborate way and using language that not everyone would have used. He is a lover of fine art and a lover of anything that is not banal, but we’re trying to make him human, to a certain degree.

Q: You certainly have a knack for playing both villains and heroes.

A: I’ve always believed that we have to find something likable and human in either type of character. The good guy will have to find his mistakes and his flaws. Maybe they’re not all that different, always, in my world.

Q: Your characters often have elements of good and bad. In A Royal Affair, would you call your character Dr. Struensee an anti-hero?

A: In the perspective of today, he would be a hero. He’s doing what we’re doing, having wars all over the world to put democracy in places. But for that era, it was a blurry balance. Obviously, you can see what he wants to do overnight. He believes it’s got to happen now, now, now! He’s a brilliant mind but a very bad politician. He doesn’t know how the game is played at all.

Q: This story is well known in Denmark, isn’t it?

A: It is a well-known story, although the character of Struensee has been back and forth. History is written by victors, so in the beginning he was considered the baddie, this German guy. He was a foreigner who wanted to push over the government. He was written out of all the textbooks. Later on they actually got a street named after him, once people started giving him more credit for standing for democracy.

Q: Would you call Dr. Struensee a Machiavellian figure?

A: No. Machiavelli had some cold tricks for people who wanted to be demagogues and wanted to take over the world. Hitler, Stalin, Mao all had Machiavelli’s The Prince as their favourite book. They used it obviously as a thing to create fear: kill your friends and your enemies randomly. Make sure people say your name 10 times a day, have statues all over the city. These are simple things that work if you want to be in power. Struensee isn’t doing that. He believes that he’s doing the right thing, and he’s not climbing the social ladder. But he sees how the young king is manipulated.

Q: You character is plotting to seize power from the king and you don’t see that as Machiavellian?

A: It’s not. The king is a kid. We’re trying to save the world. It’s one of those things where you shout at your son and you take power from him. It breaks Struensee’s heart to do it, but he has to do it. If not, they can’t get these things through.

A: It’s not really our job to make people think differently. Our job is to make the story alive again, because it has been forgotten. But we’re in good shape. For us, it was about discussing democracy, not taking freedom for granted. There have been fights for it. It’s not just something we had. People have been fighting for it.

Q: You always seem so controlled on camera. How do you maintain that?

A: I’m a big fan of film for one reason: because it is visual. Sometimes we misunderstand what films can do. We just throw a whole book in there, with people just talking, talking, and talking. The picture can tell, the frame can tell. Leave a guy alone in a room and let him do something. You’ve done 10 times as much as you did with a guy explaining himself. That’s one of the benefits of film. I don’t mind talking; I think it’s fantastic. But I also think we overdo it.
Source: The Star
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