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INT: Mads Mikkelsen

11.17.2006

No Bond film can succeed without a great villain. It is an imperative component of the Bond formula, just as important as that of the sexy siren’s. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen was honored with that prestigious role of playing Bond villain in the upcoming film CASINO ROYALE. Mikkelsen portrays Le Chiffre, an international banker and money launderer to the world’s terrorist organizations.

Unlike some of the past Bond villains, Le Chiffre exposes a vulnerability that makes him far more believable and human. Mikkelsen looks and fits the part perfectly. Furthermore, he seems like a grounded, cool guy who takes pride in his work. Check out what he had to say about his upcoming role in CASINO ROYALE when I sat down to interview him last week.

-- This interview includes SPOILERS so be aware!!! --

Mads Mikkelsen

Was that a contact lens you were wearing in the film?

Yes, it filled out the whole eye. I was fine wearing it, I mean I had no problem but I had a section where I was lost a bit. I was fairly concentrated.

Were you blind in one eye?

Yes. I was blind. I mean, I was out of focus. I was walking into things, and knocking over things. I was a really clumsy guy.

What about the bleeding in the eye?

The bleeding is a disease. That exists. Certain people have that like nose bleeding. High blood pressure in intense situations will come out of the eye. So that’s an accurate thing. I don’t have that actually.

At least they gave you a disease that was believable.

Yeah, yeah exactly. I think they were also trying to achieve the character to be slightly more fragile and vulnerable, just like Bond. A man of flesh and blood under a lot of pressure.

It’s one thing to bring a gun into the film but to bring a puffer?

Actually I thought it was perfectly in line with him being a fragile person, or weak person. I wanted him to be a chain smoker AND have asthma. I thought that would be an interesting touch, having that disease and not being able to quit but as you can see, nobody smokes in a Bond film anymore.

Do you think Le Chiffre is cheating in the poker game?

No, you can’t cheat in that game. I mean Poker is cheating. It’s bluffing, bluffing and bluffing. The only way he can cheat is by poisoning Bond and I hated that because I thought I was good enough to win without trying to poison him.

Do you play poker?

Yeah.

You talk about vulnerability and how most major actors all have that. Was that important to you in playing the role of this villain?

Yeah, and again who am I to say "no" to a Bond film, to any Bond film? I’m from Denmark and having the smallest opportunity to go here and work I will say "yes". But I do also enjoy reading the script before I say "yes". So I read it and I thought it was great. And that part of acting as real people (in the film) and not doing the pirate laugh, that was nice. It was something to work with and he’s still the villain. He still has a certain purpose in the film, we’re not taking that away but there’s a small opportunity to at least understand him if not like him.

He’s in as much trouble as he’s making for other people, right?

Definitely. If Bond could have left him alone, it would have been perfect. I don’t go kicking around dogs in the street. I’m not a bad guy like that but he drags me out of the shadow, and he wants that concentration. Then I have to do him in.

The torture scene is pretty incredible. How did you keep it real?

It was written in an old classical Bond way. It was written like me doing all the work and him throwing the punch lines. He kept it going but we placed Daniel in a slightly more desperate situation so he doesn’t end up sounding that cool anymore. He sounds panicky. It sounds like that’s the only way he can try and survive, by doing his punch lines and it doesn’t work on Le Chiffre. You can go ahead and say whatever you want but I still have you. So that was the approach to making it with the punch lines but there had to be desperation.

How did you initially get involved with this film?

They called me and I was working in Prague on another film. Always Prague. And I couldn’t make the audition, they asked me if I wanted to do the audition and to be honest I thought I was another one of these phone calls. I’m one of two thousand and you know, I go over there and they haven’t seen any of my work. So I said no thanks but thank you. So they called me up again and they asked to pay for my flight and I said, oh that’s a good sign, but I couldn’t make it. Eventually, a couple of months later, I did go there and I was dressed up ready to shoot a scene and they didn’t have the time so they just gave me the part actually without seeing the audition. At that point, they had seen some of my films. I had meetings with them and discussed the script and they wanted to do the shoot. And of course they’d seen me do a lot of different stuff at that time.

Would you have done it if they had told you to do something drastic like for to shave your hair?

Shave my hair? That’s fine. I’ve done that for a Danish film. Well depending on the script. I probably wouldn’t have done it, no.

Are there any Bond villains that you looked up to from the past movies?

I don’t look at other films or actors to try and characterize. I mean you have to do it yourself. You have to do it with the director and yourself. I know they all played the character just as well but there’s no reason to look at them. I’m doing it, now it’s me. So yeah, I just stay focused. You can’t play a Hamlet and look at all the other Hamlets.

Has anyone compared you to Christopher Walken before?

I have heard that. I played a black comedy once where I took off my hair and that gave me that enormous forehead Christopher Walken is known for. I could see the resemblance.

Are you working on any new projects right now?

I’m going to go home and see my kids. I’ve been away on this for seven months now so it’s been a long journey, so no. Couple of things next year maybe but right now, I’m just not ready.

What did you think of the poker moves you had in the movie? Did they sit well with you?

Well I mean he had a tell, I hated that he had a tell but people have tells and he needed that in order to identify himself. There is something about the tell that’s not all about the game. People will identify with peoples’ position in life. So we needed that tell. The funny thing about the tell is that if you have good cards and you play them you’re heart starts speeding, but if you have bad cards and you play them, you’re heart will start speeding as well. So you can’t really use it to know exactly what he has. You can only assume that something is going wrong.

Is it difficult as a Danish actor to get into the European and American film industry?

I think it’s a jungle. It’s a jungle out there and where I come from, there are 5 million people. If I make one film a year, that’s about it. So if I do two, it’s always good. It’s a small country. So in order to make a living and work more than once a year, it doesn’t matter where, Sweden, Italy, America, as long as I can work more than once a year.

What do you think this film will do for your career?

Well I don’t know. I mean we’ll see. It’s definitely easier to be seen in this film than a Danish darker film but then again I’ve never really planned a career. I’ve tried to focus on the work. There’s a tendency that if you focus on a career you will be disappointed and then you’re focus is wrong. If you focus on your work, eventually that will become your career. So whatever happens, it’s fine. I live back at home and that’s my best advice. If something happens over here, it’s icing on the cake.

What do you think of Daniel Craig as a Bond?

He’s shitty (laughs). What can I say? I had heard about him even before I was offered the audition. I’ve seen his work before and I thought he was a brilliant actor. So there was nothing there that indicated he shouldn’t be the best Bond. He is perfect. He is prudent, masculine like Sean Connery, he is fragile like Timothy Dalton, and he’s got arrogance and beautiful language. I think he is the perfect choice to bring in 2006. I’m sure he wouldn’t be the best Bond in the 70’s and 80’s but he is the best Bond for 2006.

We haven’t really seen any great Bond villains, in the past couple of years.

Hopefully this is a turnaround year.

Talk about the torture scene a little more and the close call with Craig.

Well it was in the book. I think it was a carpet beater. Filming it and shooting it was hard work, definitely for Daniel. You have to feel that peak of desperation every time and I think we did it forty times or something and we did it all the way through. It was impossible to go in and stop the scene right there so we had to do it all the way through.

What is your reputation like back at home in Denmark? Is it a good guy or a bad guy?

I’ve been very fortunate to play different characters. I’ve played a drug addict, then I’ve played a homosexual, then I played a farmer, then a prince. I‘ve been very lucky to be cast in different styles, comedies and dramas. So they don’t see me as anything specific. In America people think about what would be good for them to play in next. It ‘s very confusing for us to listen to that because we never think about that. We do the work that is interesting if we get it, get any offers. There is no consideration back home like maybe it’s better to do this kind (of film) because then my career can go this way. That isn’t noble for an actor. If you start following that path, you are not an actor. There is too much focus on keeping the crowd to love you.

Would you work on another big Hollywood film if given the chance?

I enjoyed it a lot and I also enjoy working at home. It was interesting. I anticipated a lot of people running around and yelling but it wasn’t like that. Barbara and Michael played poker with us all the time. There was no pressure. It was a small intimate film.

Do you have to keep touring for the movie for a while?

Yeah, I’m going back to England, then Europe and getting off the Bond train in Copenhagen. But this is an important part of selling the film. It’s a jungle out there; everybody wants to be seen so if you have something you’re proud of, I’m more than happy to do it.

Source: JoBlo.com

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