Mads Mikkelsen’s roles as the dark sorcerer in “Dr. Strange” and Imperial scientist in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” more than qualify him for this weekend’s Wizard World New Orleans.
But Mikkelsen also played cunning cannibal Hannibal Lecter in TV’s “Hannibal.” Making his first visit to New Orleans, the Danish actor expects to see “Fannibals” as well as Marvel Comics and “Stars Wars” fans at Wizard World. The sci-fi, fantasy and horror convention runs Friday through Sunday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
“About a million people call themselves Fannibals,” Mikkelsen said from Copenhagen. “They know every detail of the show. Much more than I do.”
Mikkelsen’s participation in events such as Wizard World is still new to him.
“It’s an amazing world that I’d never been part of,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how many hardcore fans are willing to spend their time and energy and money to travel around the world.”
Mikkelsen is one of dozens of actors, writers, directors and artists at Wizard World New Orleans.
Jason Momoa, star of the superhero hit “Aquaman,” headlines the convention. Other celebrity guests include “Outlander” stars Richard Rankin, Sophie Skelton, Lotte Verbeek and Graham McTavish; “The Vampire Diaries” cast members Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Daniel Gillies, Zach Roerig and David Alpay; “iZombie” actors Malcolm Goodwin, Rose McIver and Aly Michalka; and Sean Gunn from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Mikkelsen appears in big-budget movies such as “Rogue One,” “Dr. Strange” and “Casino Royale” as well as smaller projects such as the new Vincent van Gogh biopic “At Eternity’s Gate.” He strives to avoid typecasting.
New Orleans' own mad scientist aired on TV six decades ago
“If you put yourself in one box, then everybody else wants to put you in that box as well,” he said. “If I have a chance to stir it up a little, hopefully, nobody can put me in a box.”
In “At Eternity’s Gate,” Mikkelsen appears in a single scene near the end of the troubled artist’s life. Playing a priest at the mental hospital where van Gogh has been committed, Mikkelsen and Willem Dafoe’s van Gogh engage in a dialog about God and art.
“I love Willem and I love (director) Julian Schnabel’s work,” he said. “And the scene I was offered is a really warm and beautiful and moving scene.”
Thoughtful, intimate scenes of the kind Mikkelsen does in “At Eternity’s Gate” and the Danish films he makes are a different species from his work in big-budget, special effects-driven Hollywood projects.
“The secret about having a dialogue is that you react to each other and don’t act too much,” he said. “But if you’re in front of a green screen, you have to imagine everything. You’re not really acting. It’s tricky, especially for us Scandinavians, who are not used to that. I just have to use my childish imagination and believe in that giant scorpion that’s right in front of me.”
Mikkelsen launched his film career with a leading role the 1996 Danish crime drama “Pusher.” A hit in Scandinavia, the hyper-realistic film featured many first-time actors.
“Audiences thought we were the real deal,” Mikkelsen said. “A lot of us were. There were two actors in the film and the rest were from the street. The film made a huge impact on the industry here. And for that reason, obviously, we got more work.”
A late-blooming actor, Mikkelsen was a professional dancer in the decade before “Pusher.”
Actor/director Penny Marshall, who died Dec. 17 at the age of 75 due to complications from diabetes, had a unique connection to New Orleans an…
“I enjoyed dancing,” he said. “But I slowly realized that I was more in love with the drama of dance than the aesthetic of dance. The more I did musicals and saw actors on the stage, I thought acting was something I should take a shot at.”
Mikkelsen has since appeared in 40 feature films, including “King Arthur,” “Clash of the Titans” and “The Three Musketeers.” In 2012, his performance in the Danish drama “The Hunt” won the Cannes Film Festival’s best actor award.
The actor’s soon-to-be screening or streaming projects include “Arctic,” a thriller about a man stranded alone in the Arctic; “Polar,” a brutal action film about the world’s greatest assassin; and “Chaos Walking,” a speculative drama set on a colonized planet.
Different as “Polar” and “Arctic” are, their mutual lack of context pleases Mikkelsen.
In “Polar,” Mikkelsen said, “they skipped all the background stories, the flashbacks and the chitchat. They basically made my character a man who we don’t know anything about. You have to guess.”
Angered by the “NCIS: New Orleans” production crew banging into trees near his Uptown home and yelling at a neighbor’s child, the chairman of …
The same goes for his trying-to-retire assassin character in “Polar.”
“He’s just there. The less you know about him, the more legendary he can become.”