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Mads Mikkelsen on superhero style, Star Wars and real-life cannibalism

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Mads Mikkelsen looks like a nasty bastard. His piercing eyes and statuesque face are extremely intimidating, which are pushed to their limits in his villainous roles in Hannibal, Casino Royale's Le Chiffre and as an unstable sorcerer in Marvel's latest superhero effort, Doctor Strange.

However, in real life, he couldn't be further from these personas. Yes, I do know how acting works, but his menacing aura is so authentic in his work that you just assume it comes from pre-existing place, but when I walk through the doors of the Corinthia Hotel in London, I'm greeted with a smile that's not sinister, but genuinely happy, as well as his hands raised into Devil horns, a laugh towards the pointed Chelsea boots, fringed suede jacket and skull rings I'm wearing.

And his humour is right on point - there's no sign of his blunt and hard hitting movie dialogue in sight. It's just all swearing, fun and jibes at ruthless dictators...

Capes – cool or unnecessary fashion faux pas?
In this case, it’s a cheating prop that Doctor Strange gets his hands on, and without that fucking cape I would’ve kicked the shit out of him. It seems to me that the cape is a necessity for him to survive. I would’ve loved to have had it. But in real life? To go around in a cape? I don’t see myself doing that.

Can you think of any logical reason why Superman would wear his underwear on the outside of his costume?
There is no reason. I have no idea why he’s wearing a cape either. The man can fly, so he doesn’t need the cape. But there’s a lot of things going on with that character that we have to address. But he inspired Batman & Robin to a certain extent.

What’s your best dressed superhero?
Has to be [Tony] Stark. In real life he’s very well dressed.

What about worst dressed?
If you go back to the very early Seventies with Adam West’s Batman, he was not having a very well dressed day there! I wouldn’t buy that.

Doctor Strange can manipulate time itself – if given the chance, would you go back and change anything in your life?
No. It’s shaped itself into where I am today, and that’s with all my right doings and my wrong doings. I’ve learned certain things and here I am. If I didn’t learn it at that point I would’ve learned it later on. Change no, but revisit some periods of life?  Yeah. But generally, I think that’s a tricky thing to go back and fiddle with that.

I’ve seen a monk wandering around the hotel that was a spiritual adviser on the set. Did you take any enlightening knowledge away from the movie?
No. I thought this guy was so convincing he was one of the actors. I high-fived him a few times and I could see his reluctance. But monks do high five, apparently. But no I haven’t stepped into that big world, I think it was pretty clear what my character has a lot of parallels to: religious icons like Jim Jones, interesting people who are so dedicated to one thing that they get followers, and the rest of us are on the outside wondering what the fuck is wrong with them, but it makes perfect sense in their world. That was my inspiration, cult leaders throughout history.

Would you describe yourself as a spiritual person?
No, I don’t think so. I am very pragmatic; I believe in science. I believe that one is one and that zero is zero, and if that changes then everything falls apart. We all decided on religion, God didn’t make religion, we did. We create the rules, both things are man made. I am cynical and pragmatic, but also one of these guys that’s crossing his fingers hoping there’ll be another life on the carousel.

Who’s the sharpest character you’ve played?
Hannibal, by far. I’ve had fantastic outfits on before, but we’re talking about a man who’s deciding his own costume, it has to be Hannibal.

What’s your favourite suit he wore?
I have it back home. It’s a grey, reddish striped thing that Bryan Fuller actually made a copy of for himself, which they gave me at the end of shooting.

Mads

Did you keep anything else from the show?
That was about it. There might’ve been a few other little props that I put in my pocket, but I won’t tell you because they might want it back.

What style advice can we take away from Hannibal?
Dress as if there is no tomorrow.

If you had to eat anyone, who would it be and what would you make with it?
The world would’ve been better off if Hannibal had eaten Hitler. But then again he has to go on and eat Stalin and Mao as well, it’s going to be a lot of meals there. But let’s eat Hitler. It has to be German sausages with some sauerkraut on the side.

It seems that most Scandinavians are well dressed and gorgeous. What’s your secret and can you tell us Brits it?
I don’t know! We’ve been here before, we’ve tried to throw our gene pool in yours, and you’ve rejected it. There is a certain sense of style, but Italy has it as well, but that might be a bit more vanity in Italy. Style definitely comes from Sweden, they are a little more vain than we are in Denmark. But what’s the secret? They want to be stylish in a casual way, maybe that’s the trick.

Hannibal

You're going to be in Star Wars: Rogue One. How does it feel being the person responsible for creating the fucking Death Star and causing the death of billions?
I don’t know, because I’m not sure I did…[both ShortList and Mads: OHHHHHHHHH]. But he is a scientist and he is in a dilemma, that part I can recognise. The dilemma he’s in is not a nice place to be.

What was your first reaction when Star Wars approached you for the part?
You can’t get worried, you just have to dig in there, and do your best and try to fulfill the director’s vision and dream. It was something I grew up with as a kid, just like Marvel, and is kind of surreal when you’re a Danish actor and you’re thrown into midst of all this.

Doctor Strange is out in cinemas now

Image credit: Rex/Getty, Disney

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