Chewing it up

Superhero or supervillain?

Which would you pick, Mads Mikkelsen?

The debonair, versatile 49-year-old Danish actor has pulled off an amazing range of roles in his almost 20-year film career. They include heroic fighters in King Arthur (2004) and Clash Of The Titans (2010), antagonists in Casino Royale (2006) and The Three Musketeers (2011), and his award-winning turn as a disgraced kindergarten teacher wrongly accused of sexual abuse in The Hunt (2012).

But he told M in a phone interview from Copenhagen, Denmark, earlier this month that he really likes breaking bad.

"As much as I enjoy playing good guys, I think that those type of characters need the other side of the coin, the dark side. I embrace it every time I get the chance."


And he is winning a new legion of fans as the iconic, cannibalistic psychiatrist-serial killer Hannibal Lecter, a role he reprises in the third season of TV series Hannibal. It airs on Fridays at 9.45pm on AXN (StarHub Ch 511).

"I think it's a wonderful character to play. (Hannibal)'s multifaceted. He's a chameleon and can adapt to any situation that's given to him in life. For that reason, it's a gift for any actor to step into the suit of Hannibal because he has so many different faces," said Mikkelsen.

Season 3 sees Lecter on the run in Europe, accompanied by his psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) and sporting a new identity.

Richard Armitage also joins the cast as serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, the primary villain of Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon which introduced the character of Lecter. His story is a "powerful part" of the entire season.

Mikkelsen teased: "You don't have to look out for it because it will be in your face right away. I can't really say what's happening, but 'showdown' is a small word."

Unfortunately for "Fannibals" (what hardcore fans of Hannibal call themselves), it was reported on Monday that TV network NBC will cancel the thriller after the conclusion of Season 3 due to dwindling ratings.

Hannibal aside, moviegoers will perhaps best remember Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre, the blood-weeping poker player who famously tortures Daniel Craig's James Bond in Casino Royale.

He said: "(The movie) was a spectacular thing for me to do. That was the biggest film I had done at that point.

"When I started the film, I had no idea how big it was. I've never seen a Bond film myself.

"But the actual work was pretty much like any other (film) I did back home, just that it required more people on set."

The father of two admitted he got a "minor shock" when tens of thousands of people turned up for the premiere of Casino Royale at Odeon Leicester Square, which was when he realised the magnitude of the project.


But Mikkelsen is not the only Danish actor to have made his mark in Hollywood.

When asked about his fellow countryman Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is a fan favourite as knight Jaime Lannister on the hit TV series Game Of Thrones, he said: "I think it's fantastic what Nikolaj has achieved. We started out together and have done numerous theatre plays and films together as well.

"But very early on in his career, he went abroad and he was very ambitious about working there.

"It's taken him a while, but now he's made it and he's made it big time. So I'm very proud of him. I think he's achieved something fantastic."

Mikkelsen confessed he would actually love to be part of Game Of Thrones.

"I wouldn't want any part, of course. I would be the one that kills him in the show," he said with a laugh.

He said he was offered a part in superhero flick Thor (2013) and would "love to be in a Marvel film", but was not able to commit because of Hannibal.

He joked: "If they one day need an older version of Spider-Man, I'm ready. I can climb walls."

This article was first published on June 24, 2015.
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