Mads Mikkelsen: ‘One word wrong and you’re a dead person’

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Dogme 95, the notorious Danish DIY film movement that launched the career of – among others – Lars Von Trier, has been called a lot of things. “Revolutionary”, “amateur porn”, “shit” (the last one yelled by the critic Mark Kermode at a Cannes screening of Von Trier’s The Idiots). With its 10-point manifesto targeting “decadent film-making”, wobbly-cam aesthetic and tendency towards nudity, violence and cruelty, it has inspired rapture and revulsion in equal measure. Though not everyone, it seems, had such a visceral reaction.

“To be frank, I just thought it was silly,” says Mads Mikkelsen. “Sitting down and writing down 10 commandments of how to approach film-making? ‘The story is important’ – no shit, Sherlock! Seriously? Do you have to write that down? Was it not important before you wrote it down? All these things were common fucking sense to me.

“So, yeah, I had mixed emotions for it at that time. But,” he adds, diplomatically, “we should be super-grateful for the movement. It was a fantastic way of placing Denmark on the map.”

If anyone has a right to criticise, it’s probably Mikkelsen. Emerging from the Danish film scene at around the same time as Dogme with a role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 crime drama Pusher, the 53-year-old actor has since become, alongside Von Trier and Viggo Mortensen, arguably the country’s most famous cinematic export.

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