Arguably one of the most talented Danish actors, Mads Mikkelsen is a veteran in the acting business. The Copenhagen-born actor, however, is immensely versatile, spending his early years as a gymnast and a professional dancer. Mikkelsen spent his youth training as a gymnast as he was very interested in athletics, and after a few years of gymnastics, he enrolled in a Ballet academy in Gothenburg, Sweden. He remained a professional dancer for about a decade before deciding to switch careers to acting.
Mikkelsen made his film debut in the late ’90s, starring in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Danish Crime Thriller Pusher. A couple of years after Pusher, Mikkelsen starred in another one of Refn’s crime thrillers, this time as a lead character. In Bleeder — which was released just before the turn of the century — the 59-year-old plays a shy film expert called Lenny who suffers from avoidant personality disorder. His big break would come in 2006, when he played Le Chiffre, the main antagonist in Casino Royale, one of the more popular James Bond classics. Since then he’s featured regularly in numerous noteworthy shows and blockbusters and is set to portray the antagonist Voller in the upcoming Indiana Jones film. Here’s a list of his movies and shows, ranked from least to best.
In this Danish drama directed by Ole Christian Madsen, married couple Christoffer and Maja travel to Prague to collect and bring home the body of Christoffer’s father for burial in Denmark. The trip to Prague to bring back Chistoffer’s deceased father, however, evolves into the story of a break-up. Here, Mikkelsen expertly brings the Christoffer character to life, adequately adding intensity and credibility to the movie. The 2006 film also features other names like Stine Stengade, Jana Plodková, and Bořivoj Navrátil.
Polar is a 2019 neo-noir action thriller film based on cartoonist Víctor Santos’ 2013 graphic novel Polar: Came From the Cold. It was directed by Swedish film director Jonas Åkerlund and stars Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas, and Mads Mikkelsen, the latter of which plays an aging assassin on the verge of retirement who becomes targeted by an employer wanting to cash in on his pension. Other notable names that appear in Polar include: Julian Richings, Richard Dreyfuss, Ruby O. Fee, and Robert Maillet.
8. Doctor Strange
This is one of the more popular movies Mikkelsen has starred in. In this 2016 MCU superhero film directed by Scott Derrickson, Mikkelsen plays Kaecilius, a Master of the Mystic Arts who broke away from the Ancient One. In this movie, Mikkelsen was used to drive the introduction and development of bigger villains for the future, including “certain individuals who live in other dimensions.” He’s joined by other big names like Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Stephen Strange, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, amongst several others.
7. Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas
Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas is a French-German drama directed by French film director and screenwriter Arnaud des Pallières. The movie is based on Heinrich von Kleist’s novella titled Michael Kohlhaas which is also based on the story of the German merchant Hans Kohlhaas. Here, Mikkelsen plays the lead character, Michael Kohlhaas, a horse leader who raises an army and puts the country to fire and sword in order to have his rights restored after being treated unjustly by a lord.
6. Rogue One
An American epic space opera film directed by Gareth Edwards, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story differs slightly from the traditional Star Wars films. It was made to be different in tone and style and it omits the customary opening crawl and transitional screen wipes. Rogue One remains one of the most expensive movies ever shot with an estimated budget of at least $220 million. Here, Mikkelsen plays Galen Erso, a research scientist and the father of Jyn Erso – a young renegade woman who is detained for her crimes against the Empire until she is freed by the Rebel Alliance to help steal the plans for the Death Star.
5. The Three Musketeers
Released in 2011, The Three Musketeers is a romantic action adventure film directed by English Filmmaker Paul W. S. Anderson. It tells the story of D’Artagnan – a young, hot-headed lad who along with three former legendary but now down-on-their-luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war. Mikkelsen plays Captain Rochefort, a secondary antagonist in the adventure film. Alongside Mikkelsen, Logan Lerman, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, James Corden, and Matthew Macfadyen co-star.
Rejseholdet is a Danish television crime drama series that ran for four seasons from October 2000 to January 2004. The show focuses on an elite mobile police task force that travels around Denmark assisting each local police force in solving serious crimes. Mikkelsen plays DS Allan Fischer in this crime series – an impulsive and emotional character who has been frustrated by a lack of advancement in his career. He is, however, a valued member of the team as his persistence, physicality, and willingness to bend the rules often produces results.
3. Casino Royale
This classic is what gave Mads Mikkelsen his first international recognition. In this 2006 spy film — and the twenty-first in the Eon Productions’ James Bond series — Mikkelsen plays the chief antagonist Le Chiffre, a mathematical genius, expert chess player, and banker who services many of the world’s criminals and terrorists, and is the associate partner of the criminal organization Spectre. Other co-stars include Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Giancarlo Giannini, Jesper Christensen, Tobias Menzies, Judi Dench, and Isaach de Bankolé.
In this American psychological horror-thriller, Mikkelsen plays Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a forensic psychiatrist destined to become FBI special investigator, Will Graham’s most cunning and interesting foe. Hannibal earned critical acclaim throughout its run and has gained a cult following of dedicated fans of the series.
1. Another Round
Another Round is a 2020 black comedy-drama film directed by Danish film director Thomas Vinterberg. It focuses on four high-school teachers — Martin, Tommy, Peter, and Nikolaj — who consume alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their social and professional lives. Mikkelsen plays Martin, who is depressed and alienated from his family and students. Another Round is one of the most acclaimed movies Mikkelsen has starred in as it won the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards – amongst several other awards