It’s early on a Saturday morning, I’m a bit hung over, and I’m waiting for Mads Mikkelsen to call. Which, in this case, the hangover seems somewhat fitting since Mikkelsen’s new film, Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, is about the consumption of alcohol. In the film, four friends, all teachers, put into action a theory that a modest blood alcohol level can make you a more successful person. (In my experiment the night before all I did was wind up watching Under Siege.) The surprising thing about Another Round is, yes, all their lives change, but maybe not how we’d expect. Most surprisingly: some positive things do happen. Though, when I tried to douse this whole theory to Mikkelsen, with my tale of a night so un-profound that I watched a Steven Seagal movie, Mikkelsen volleyed it right back at me and made me see the errors of my way.
Mikkelsen has been in the news lately for taking over Johnny Depp’s role in the Fantastic Beasts series of films, an addition that already makes this next installment better by default. And a lot is being made of Mikkelsen’s inclusion in almost every franchise now, which now stands at Star Wars, Marvel, James Bond, Hannibal Lecter, Clash of the Titans (everyone forgets that one), and the aforementioned Harry Potter. What other franchises could he possibly want to be in? He has some surprisingly specific, albeit somewhat unrealistic, answers.
Mads Mikkelsen is a charmer. There’s no doubt about that. And what we wouldn’t give, right now, to have a drink with Mikkelsen. There seems little doubt that he’d be one entertaining fellow to have around. But, in the meantime, let’s let Mikkelsen explain to us how he’s seriously contemplating building a shrine of action figures of himself in his home. (Something he says his wife is very much not interested in seeing.)
I have to admit, it’s kind of shocking to watch a movie where the premise is, “let’s drink all the time,” and the effects are, at least at first, positive. Usually, the results are not positive.
No, absolutely not. And it rarely does. And it’s a theory that rings quite a few bells when you talk about it, right? I mean, we all know what happens to a good conversation if you add two glasses of wine. That conversation becomes, all of a sudden, much more interesting. We also know what happens if you play pool or you play darts. It’s like, two beers, then you’re in the zone, right? Eight beers, you’re not hitting the board. And zero beers, you don’t want to play darts at all. So we know it plays a part in our social life. It also takes a certain burden off our shoulders and it liberates us.
So, I tested this out last night. But I didn’t wind up doing anything remarkable. I wound up watching the Steven Seagal movie Under Siege.
Oh, and I bet it was much better than you thought!
Well, okay, that’s true.
There you go! There you go.
Yeah, that movie is amazing.
Yeah, there you go!
Okay, you’re proving your point a little bit here, but I do have a headache now. So there’s that.
Yeah, well there’s always a bill to pay.
Well, this movie has made me feel a little better about my “time to stay home and have a bottle of wine” lifestyle this year.
I mean, we didn’t know that the shutdown would come or that COVID-19 would happen when we shot the film, which we’re certainly not trying to do an advertisement for sitting alone at home and start drinking…
To be clear, I live with my girlfriend, so I’m not always by myself.
So we have corrupted two people instead of one?
After four or five months of lockdown, I watched the film. And it’s so full of life. I remember a feeling of guilt immediately when I saw it. I was like, “Oh my God, can we do this? Are we allowed to do this?”
Why is that?
And of course we’re allowed to do this. This was just a film about life. The scary thing about the whole thing was that in five or six months, we had gotten so used to the new way of living, that the real way of living all of a sudden looked illegal. And it was cheeky. Ooh, look at us naughty boys, right? And that is the scary part, that we get used to it so fast.
The last thing I want to watch is a movie about quarantine.
Hey, you know what? That was exactly my words when everybody was nervous and said, “Oh, maybe the audience will feel offended about this.” And I said the exact same words. I said no one wants to watch a film about lockdown. They want to see a film about life. I think we’re on the right track here.
You’re getting a lot of well-wishes on your latest project, joining the Fantastic Beasts, Harry Potter universe. Is there a franchise that you haven’t been in that you want to be? Because you’re really checking off all the boxes.
I mean, I would have loved to be part of the universe of Bruce Lee, but that’s too late, right?
Yeah, it’s too late.
Or be just an extra in the background in a Buster Keaton film.
It’s too late for that one, too.
Yeah, it is. Yeah, there are tons of things I would love to have been part of, but you can never predict what’s coming in the future. Well, any old good zombie film my way, that would be fun.
That’s still possible.
The only problem I have with that is that I think it looks really funny and awesome to be a zombie, but they have a tendency to die really fast.
I bet if you called up The Walking Dead people they’d make a spot for you.
But then they would have to have a main zombie, a leader zombie.
Oh, I see.
So I don’t die right away.
Oh, so you could be a leader zombie?
Once I’ve spent eight hours in the makeup, I want to have more than one day.
When everyone lists all the franchises you’ve been in, everyone forgets Clash of the Titans.
That’s right! Yes, that’s true. We put a little mark on that as well then.
So you need to do a Fast & Furious, right?
Fast & Furious … yeah, maybe. Yeah.
Well, it feels like the only big one left you haven’t done.
Fair enough. If you say so, that’s what we’ll do then. Give a call.
You do always bring something appealing to these movies. When the Fantastic Beasts news broke, I actually thought, “Oh man, now I actually want to go see this.”
You’re putting the pressure on me.
Yeah, I mean, I really like the story and the cast. It’s wonderful. Director is wonderful. So far I’ve spent a week here, and the atmosphere on the film is really good. I mean, obviously, on the set with the background with Johnny Depp and everything… But in terms of work wise, people seem very professional, and very, very nice.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but on social media a lot of people are talking about Rogue One recently.
What’s the reason?
I think people are watching it again and realizing just how great that movie is.
Oh, that’s good. Yeah, I think it was a form of going back to the original feel of the films. And that’s one of these things that has been there when I’ve done these franchises. It’s been like the revival James Bond.
A new Bond, a new energy to it. And the same was with Rogue One, I believe. And then obviously Hannibal was a TV show. And what was the other one?
Yeah, Marvel, that was quite different film from the other ones, right?
I believe so, yes.
But, in many ways, some things are pure luck and landed down in my lap. So that has been fortunate.
Also, I think when Rogue One came out people, like myself, were caught up with what Gareth Edwards directed and what Tony Gilroy directed. Now that all kind of fades away and it’s just a good movie.
Right. And now I’ve done a few things over there. And very few of the things have actually been done after the original amount of time shooting. There have been reshoots on every single thing. That’s just something everybody does when they watch the whole full film and they go, “Okay, we’re almost there, we should add a little thing there and we need a scene for that.” And often it’s not because it’s a problem, it’s just a part of the process, right? So I think maybe Rogue One was caught up in one of those negativities, where people had an idea that there was big problems with it. And the case was that it was just trying to fine-tune it.
Back to Another Round, I love the concept that your character has a patented dance that he does. I wish I had a friend like that, “Oh, you have to get him to do the dance.”
Yeah, or, “Sing that song.”
Right, I don’t have any friends like that where it’s worth seeing or hearing.
Or, “Tell that joke, you’re such a funny guy.” Yeah. I mean, obviously it was Thomas’s idea, he wanted the film to end on a note of liberation somehow. He wanted to see a man fly. But he also, at the same time, he wanted to have a sense of a man that would have a choice between flying and falling.
By the end, that dance really has to pay off. And boy does it…
Yeah, that’s what was one of my concerns.
Well, first of all, so what do people expect? And secondly, can we pull it off in a realistic film? That a man actually literally gets up and dances without coming across as super pretentious, right? But Thomas insisted, and I gave in, and he was absolutely right. I think that’s the reason why it really works, is that it’s more like an inner journey. He just had the worst day of his life, he lost a friend. And he also had one of the best days of his life, he might have gained his marriage, right? So that is a man who’s conflicted. It was more about a man feeling, to a degree, liberated and don’t give a shit. A man who didn’t care anymore.
Are you surprised how much attention this movie is getting, especially in the United States? Because most of the time we see you in the press here it’s because of one of those aforementioned franchise films we were talking about.
I mean, it’s not weird, but it’s a little unusual. That’s true. It did help that we were officially selected as the Danish contribution for the Oscars. And maybe I’m a little surprised, because the drinking scenes can come across as very Danish. So I think, in that way, maybe it has a little more universal feel to it than we anticipated.
In most American movies, when a character says “Ah, I’ll get one more.” Someone will say, “Are you sure you want another one?” And you know where that’s headed immediately.
So it’s just unusual to watch this, where it’s not treated that way. And I think that’s why people are responding to it.
I also think that those films have been made, and also in Denmark there have been a lot of those films. But we didn’t want the film to have a pointing finger, and that was a very important part. Because if we did that, we might as well just sit down and watch some of the other beautiful films that have been made about the same topic. But, I mean, we haven’t had any backlash. We thought we might get backlash.
Were you really worried about that?
We can’t be worried about things like that, because obviously the film is about so much more than just people drinking. It’s about embracing life, that’s basically what the film is. My character is standing on the platform and the train has left him. And he’s ending the future, and he’s regretting his past. And he simply forgot to live in the present and embrace his family and his job. And so that’s what the film is about, embracing life as it is right here and now. So we knew that’s what we were doing, but at the same time, there are so many people who can be offended by anything these days. So we were anticipating some kind of backlash from all kind of organizations would accuse us of promoting alcohol in a very reckless way. And we haven’t had any of that, so we’re just so pleased that that didn’t happen. Because that would be such a boring conversation.
So, I’ve wondered this: do you have a shelf with just every action figure of yourself? That could be quite a collection.
You know, I’ve thought about it.
And then in all the films that there were no action figures for, all of a sudden they’re releasing some!
Yeah, they are going back now and making good stuff for older movies.
And I can’t remember which one it was, but it was just one. Yes, I could definitely do that, but here’s the thing: I have a wife.
She has no interest in that. But I might just make one somewhere.
I think you should. It would be a good conversation piece.
But some of them are almost one-to-one human size, right? So it’s going to be a little tricky to have “a shelf.”
Well, I’m out of time, but I’m so glad I watched this movie. I saw it at a virtual film festival and had no idea what it was about other than that you were in it.
That’s a good approach to a film anyway, because if you read and hear too much about it, you anticipate certain things. It’s wonderful just to dive into a film and go, “Wow, where is this taking me?” Because then you go on a journey.
So what you’re saying is, to anyone who’s reading this, we’ve ruined it for them.
No, I hope not! I hope not. Well, it’s called Another Round. At least they know that.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.