“I always try to find something I like about the bad guys and then try to find the mistakes and the flaws in the good guys,” Mads Mikkelsen explains emphatically down the line. From crying blood in *Bond * to consuming bodies in Lecter reboot Hannibal, Mikkelsen is that rare quantity: a 007 villain who can actually act. Ahead of the first series DVD release of the gut wrenching and glorious Hannibal, we discuss teaming up with Javier Bardem, being compared to Donald Duck and getting beaten up by Eric Cantona…
GQ: What’s the best thing you can cook?
Mads Mikkelsen: I actually only do Thai food because all you have to do is chop a lot of things up, put them in the pot and you become a hero. I make an awesome soup with coconut milk and shrimps; it takes me five hours to prepare the whole thing. It does become very spicy but you can definitely taste all the ingredients.
How do you make your favourite drink?
Very, very easily. I take the cap off the beer bottle and that’s it. I drink any beer; preferably lager. I’m not a fan of that dark beer you call Guinness though. You try and persuade me that it’s healthy and that it’s a meal, but to me it’s just a dead beer that somebody forgot yesterday from the party and you found it.
What’s your hangover cure?
In Denmark we have a tablet called Treo; it’s a combination of painkillers and caffeine so you get a kick at the same time as you kill the pain. Two before you go to bed, two when you wake up and you should be fine.
What was the last scene on film that really shocked you?
It is very hard to shock a person who works in the business so in order for me to find it shocking, it has to be something very realistic, very graphic or emotionally heavy. I’ve been watching Walking Dead with my son and there is absolutely nothing in there I find shocking but it’s cool and I like it. We finished the whole [series] in four or five days. Now the world seems empty. What’s next?
Have you ever seen a dead body?
I’ve seen a couple. Well I wasn’t sure this one was dead, but I saw an accident on the street once and I wouldn’t put my money on that person surviving it – it didn’t look good. It’s quite something in real life, it’s something else. Everything is different; the sound, the feel and you just know that it happened.
Why do you think there’s such a demand for serial killer drama?
Right now it seems as if television has some balls it didn’t have 10 years ago; they get away with stuff that some films cannot get away. It might change again in some years and I don’t know the mystery of why it’s happening right now, but I think it’s a nice development.
Eddie Izzard is amazing in Hannibal. Have you heard he might run for Mayor of London – what do you think of his chances?
He was actually talking about it when he was here, but the thing about Eddie is you can’t really tell whether he is serious or not, so I kind of dismissed it in the beginning. But you guys are used to some colourful mayors there so why not?
A lot of people remark on Hannibal’s dress sense; his three-piece suit and full Windsor knot. What’s your own style like?
Predominantly I’m an Adidas guy who walks around in sports gear all the time because there’s always a ball right next to me somewhere. I do a lot of sports but I do enjoy wearing a lot of suits. I have quite a few suits that I really enjoy wearing but, unlike Hannibal, I like wearing them [only] at special occasions.
Hugh Dancy is a well-dressed man in real life, do you admire his style?
I have to take care what I say now as he’s probably going to read this. He is a very handsome and very well dressed man but, without offending him, I would say we dress very differently. I’m sure he has a few opinions about my style!
What should every man have in his wardrobe?
Every man should have at least a nice watch, whether it’s an expensive one or not – as long as it’s something that he likes – and some really nice shoes. That’s a really good base and then you can put on some underwear if you want to, but that’s a good start.
What’s your sport of choice?
I do a lot of racing bikes, a lot of tennis; I play handball, some boxing, whatever pops up. You’re the only one in Europe who doesn’t play handball for some reason but hey then again you’re still driving on the wrong side of the street.
Your brother suggests jazz festivals and the liberal way of life as reasons to visit Denmark, have you any more?
We’re nice, hospitable, funny people. If you do crack a joke though, you should definitely do it in Denmark and not Sweden – they wouldn’t get it. There’s a tremendous difference between the humour in Sweden and Germany. We have to take a boat to Scotland, Ireland or England to be understood because they don’t get the sarcasm and irony; they might be more politically correct in Sweden and Germany.
We interviewed your brother Lars a while back and he compared seeing you in Casino Royale to seeing Donald Duck. What would you compare his portrayal in The Killing to?
My brother? Did he really do that? You know what, I’ve only seen one episode of The Killing that he was in and I have a hard time comparing him to anything because it was great.
What’s your abiding memory of working with Daniel Craig and what did you make of Skyfall?
I tremendously enjoyed working with Daniel. Obviously that was his first Bond film and it was a new take on the whole franchise so everybody was nervous because there was already so much criticism.
I was amazed with the way Daniel handled the pressure; he was so focused on the work and came in doing the best everyday. I thought Skyfall was great, I loved watching it and think Javier Bardem and me should hook up and finish him off once and for all – we were so close to killing him! Together we can do big things.
When were you last star struck?
I was a little star struck when I shot a western in May. I was shooting and among the bad guys on the cast list was Eric Cantona. He had to kick the shit out of me and, yeah I was a little silly and talked way too fast, but he was like everybody else, a classic, sweet, nice person.
You worked with Nicolas Winding Refn on Valhalla Rising. What made him different from other directors?
When Nicolas and I started out together, it was his first film and now we’ve been working ever since so that is special. I think he’s just a brilliant moviemaker; he’s extremely emotionally and visually clever but not super precise in what he wants. He gives a lot of liberties to the actors for us to translate what he wants and I just enjoy working in that manner.
Can you recommend a good book?
One novelist I really enjoy is an American author called Michael Connelly who has a main character called Hieronymus Bosch. They are clever crime books and the characters are so much better written than anything else I’ve been reading, so I would definitely recommend him if you want to go on a vacation somewhere and you want something that’s easily digestible.
How would you like to be remembered?
Depending on who’s going to remember me. Hopefully my family is going to remember me as somebody who loved them tremendously. If we’re talking about audiences, I would love to be remembered as the person who had a certain variety of work behind them and did his best. But I can’t control it… so maybe its better they forget me?
The first season of Hannibal is out now. Season 2 set to be aired in 2014.
Originally published in September 2013 on GQ.co.uk. Read the original here.