Mads Mikkelsen is a Danish actor who first gained prominence in Denmark for his role of Tonny, the drug dealer, in the first two films of the Pusher film trilogy. His role as the brash yet sensitive policeman Allan Fischer in Peter Thorsboe's Danish television series Rejseholdet, also added to his popularity. The role that gave him worldwide recognition was for playing the main antagonist Le Chiffre in the twenty-first James Bond film, Casino Royale
. His other notable roles include Igor Stravinsky in Jan Kounen's French film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2008) and his award-winning role as Lucas in the 2012 Danish film The Hunt.
Mikkelsen was born in Østerbro, Copenhagen, to Bente Christiansen, a nurse, and Henning Mikkelsen, a bank teller and trade union official. He has an older brother, Lars, who is also an actor. The two were raised in Nørrebro.
When he was young, the actor trained as a gymnast with the intention to pursue athletics, and also learnt dancing at the Balettakademien ballet academy in Gothenburg. The dance training made him fluent in Swedish. After being a professional dancer for almost a decade, he quit it in order to study drama at the Århus Theatre School in 1996, giving a headstart to an acting career.
During his dancing career, Mikkelsen got in touch with choreographer Hanne Jacobsen, and the two started dating in 1987. They pursued their relationship and got married in 2000. The couple have a daughter, Viola, and a son, Carl.
Mikkelsen lived in Copenhagen since his birth but moved to Toronto in 2012 when he started filming for Hannibal. He is nonreligious.
Mikkelsen made his acting debut with the short film Café Hector in 1996 under the direction of Lotte Svendsen, and followed it up with another short film Blomsterfangen, but his silver screen debut came with Pusher in the same year. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
, the actor was seen in the role of Tonny, the partner of a low-level drug dealer, in this Danish crime drama, which revolves around a drug dealer who loses a lot of money in a drug deal that went wrong and has only few days left to raise the money he owes. The movie was a commercial success. After a few minor roles, his big step up was the Danish crime drama Bleeder as a shy film expert Lenny, who suffers from avoidant personality disorder, starring alongside Kim Bodnia
. This movie was also a success in Denmark, which turned out in favor of the actor and got him more opportunities. This followed with the role of a gangster in Anders Thomas Jensen's gangster movie Flickering Lights, and then gained wide recognition for starring as a gay partner to actor Troels Lyby in the gay comedy Shake It All About (2001).
His next significant role as a young doctor in Open Hearts, where he falls in love with one of his patient's girlfriend, won him the Rouen Nordic Film Festival Award for Best Actor along with nominations for Bodil Award and Robert Festival Award for Best Actor, all in 2003. After working in a leading role in the short film Nu, he was cast in The Green Butchers as a butcher's assistant, for which he won the Fantasporto Award for Best Actor. He went on to star in Pablo Berger's Spanish film Torremolinos 73 in the same year, which fared well in Spain but failed to make an impact in Scandinavian countries.
In 2004, the actor joined hands once again with director Nicolas Winding Refn to reprise the role of the drug dealer Tonny in Pusher II, a sequel to Pusher. He impressed audiences with his performance once again, which garnered him the Bodil Award for Best Actor, Zulu Award and Robert Festival Award for Best Actor. After this, Mikkelsen performed award-winning roles in movies like the black comedy-drama Adam's Apples (2005), drama film After the Wedding (2006) and Ole Christian Madsen's Prague (2006). His role as priest Ivan in Adam's Apples won him Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Award for Best Actor and got him nominated for Robert Festival Award for Best Supporting Actor, while his portrayal of the character Jacob Petersen in After the Wedding where he manages an Indian orphanage, won him Palm Springs International Film Festival Award for Best Actor and got him nominated for Robert Festival Award and European Film Award for Best Actor. In Prague, he was seen as Christoffer, which won him the Zulu Award for Best Actor and nominations for Bodil Award and Robert Festival Award for Best Actor. The actor climbed a notch higher with the role of a terrorist financier Le Chiffre in Martin Campbell
's Casino Royale, the twenty-first James Bond film, which starred Daniel Craig
as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.
In 2008, Mikkelsen was seen in the role of a Danish resistance fighter Jørgen Haagen Schmith in Flame & Citron, directed by Ole Christian Madsen, opposite Thure Lindhardt
and Stine Stengade, getting him nominated for European Film Award for Best Actor and Robert Festival Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also voiced for the character of Le Chiffre in the video game Quantum of Solace: The Game. The 2009 French film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky directed by Jan Kounen was his next, in which he played the lead alongside Anna Mouglalis. Based on the 2002 fictional novel Coco and Igor by Chris Greenhalgh, the movie gained mixed reviews. He followed this up with movies like Valhalla Rising, The Door and then in the role of a self-sacrificing leader of the king's guard in Clash of the Titans
2011 saw him play the villainous Rochefort in The Three Musketeers
, which was a box-office success but garnered poor reviews from critics. The actor's next big success was Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt in 2012, in which he featured as a schoolteacher wrongly accused of child molestation, that won him Bodil Award and Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor, and nominmations for London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year and Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor. The year also saw him star in the Oscar-nominated historical drama A Royal Affair in the role of the 18th century physician Johann Friedrich Struensee, with the movie being one of the high budget Danish films appreciated by critics. In 2013, Mikkelsen starred in Fredrik Bond
's Charlie Countryman
opposite Shia LaBeouf
, Evan Rachel Wood
and Aubrey Plaza
, and also Arnaud des Pallières' Michael Kohlhaas in the role of a horse dealer Michael Kohlhaas. After appearing in The Salvation, he worked in the comedy film Men & Chicken as Elias, directed by Anders Thomas Jensen, and won the Zulu Award for Best Actor for his performance.
Mikkelsen's 2016 release includes Scott Derrickson
's American superhero film Doctor Strange
based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, in the role of the sorcerer Kaecilius, co-starring Benedict Cumberbatch
, Chiwetel Ejiofor
, Rachel McAdams
, and Benedict Wong
. His other movie in the year was the epic space opera Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
, the first Star Wars Anthology film, under the direction of Gareth Edwards
, opposite Felicity Jones
, Diego Luna
, Ben Mendelsohn
, and Donnie Yen.
Just a few years after his debut in the film industry, Mikkelsen ventured in the television industry with a Danish television crime series Rejseholdet (2000-03) co-starring Charlotte Fich, and Lars Brygmann. He played the role of Allan Fisher, a Detective Sergeant, in this series in which each episode revolves around an elite mobile police task force that helps local police solve crimes. This show won the 2002 International Emmy Award for best drama series. His second television project was Julie (2005), in which he appeared for six episodes in the role of Harald. Between 2013–15, he featured in the psychological thriller–horror television series Hannibal, in the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a forensic psychiatrist, also starring Hugh Dancy
in the lead as FBI special investigator Will Graham. The series received high critical acclaim and the performances of the lead actors was appreciated. Mikkelsen was associated with the show for a long time and won the Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television (2013), and was also nominated for Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television (2014–15) and Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (2015).
Mikkelsen has appeared in a few music videos. The first one came out in 2009 with rapper Jokeren's music video "Sig Ja" as the male lead. He then featured in the video of Djákninn by Sólstafir, an Icelandic heavy metal band, as the Viking man. In 2015, he was seen in Rihanna
's music video "Bitch Better Have My Money" in the role of The Accountant.