Mads Mikkelsen is no stranger to playing the bad guy, from an antagonistic turn as James Bond’s foil in “Casino Royale” to playing the title role of the iconic serial killer in the TV series “Hannibal.”
Starting tomorrow, he plays Kaecilius in the new Marvel movie “Doctor Strange,” where he faces off against Benedict Cumberbatch’s hero as a magical agent working to bring about a new world order.
amNewYork spoke with the 50-year-old Danish actor about the film.
Do you see any common bonds between Kaecilius and Hannibal?
I think what they do have in common is that they believe in what they do. They’re not lying. Kaecilius is not taking over the world because he thinks it’s really fun to take over the world. He’s doing it because he believes it’s the right thing to do. And so with Hannibal. He never lied about anything. He was just a very curious man who would love to see a different side of the world. I refer to him as a fallen angel. He sees beauty and he sees ugly things as well, but he’s reversed.
You’ve said that Kaecilius is not really a bad guy. What is your take on him?
I think the key to all bad guys is to have the character make sense. I believe that everything he says makes sense, he’s on to something, he’s got a point. And once you have a point as a bad guy, you can always discuss whether his means to achieve that is right or not and that will become the dark dilemma. I think they did a really good job in the writing process of creating this person. It’s not crazy what he’s talking about. I’ll buy it.
How did you go about making him your own?
They already had picked how they looked in terms of costumes and I had nothing to intervene in there. I thought there was absolutely fantastic costumes we were doing. And then we had this mask on as we developed our stronger and stronger beliefs, which is a prosthetic makeup, which took about 2-3 hours every day. We discussed hair back and forth and I had quite a say on that. But it was all about being in the universe, being in the Nepalese, Tibetan feel and at the same time, lifting up to something Marvel-ish, to be in the Marvel universe as well. And then, the character comes from the bible, as I call it. The script. The script was pretty much there from the beginning. We could always discuss back and forth little details. But it was quite solid already so the character kind of grows on you once you start working with it.
Were you a Marvel fan before signing onto this film?
Yeah, big fan of the films and big fan of the comic books as well since I was a kid. I was familiar with Dr. Strange. I think I might have been a little too young to understand the philosophic part and the intellectual part when you’re nine. But as a teenager you start getting it, right? It’s a different kind of Marvel character. But I love them. You read them as a kid and then all of the sudden you see them on the big screen and I think they’ve done a fantastic job of giving life to all these characters again. I think just the basic fact that it was a Marvel film, that was what drew me into this.
With your background with the character of Dr. Strange, how do you think Benedict did?
Once I heard it was him, and once I read the script, and I got reminded of what the character was, I couldn’t imagine anyone else. The thing that Benedict has, besides being this excellent, fantastic actor, he has this quality — he’s the sweetest man on the planet — but he also has the quality of giving life to very arrogant people. And Dr. Strange is extremely selfish and arrogant. And his journey is obviously going from that narcissistic person to someone who can embrace the world a little more tenderly, and I can’t imagine anyone doing that better than Benedict.
Is there anything you can tease about your role in the upcoming film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”?
Not a lot. I can tease that I’m the father of Felicity Jones. She’s call Jyn Erso, I’m called Galen Erso. I can say that I’m a scientist working on something that can change the world forever and there is a separation quite early in the film and for that reason, a lot of people are looking for this character.