Were you injured at all during the filming?
Mads Mikkelsen: Only by my own hand. When I do outdoor scenes, I tend to find a quiet space where I can sit and carve a walking stick that can turn out to be interesting for me. I dropped a knife on my finger at one point and not being accustomed to the bacteria in South Africa, it turned pitch black in about 10 minutes. We had to run to the hospital and it was blood poisoning. On a serious level, they were discussing whether they should chop off my finger now or wait half an hour. [Laughs] I was pretty close to losing a finger, but it was my own mistake.
I can only imagine. That would have been devastating.
Mads Mikkelsen: And that’s the irony of it. I didn’t get any injuries from shooting the film. I only got them from the breaks.
But shooting in South Africa, it must have been gorgeous. It’s just a unique landscape to shoot the film. Why did the director choose to shoot there?
Mads Mikkelsen: I’m sure that it’s the practical reasons. They had a very experienced team down there and if we had to find a similar place in America, it would probably be more expensive. We would have to buy a team that would take us out in the middle of nowhere. The mere fact that [Levring] could find a place that looked something like he imagined it in South Africa, it probably saved him some time and money.
It was a fantastic crew and it was surreal, as well. Everybody was walking around in our costumes looking like people should do in a western. At the same time, we had all these African tribes speaking numerous amounts of languages. It was surreal that it wasn’t in America. Once in a while, we had to do some CGI, because the zebra that walks through the shot is not necessarily what we want.
You have starred in many period pieces in recent years, from Valhalla Rising to A Royal Affair, and now with The Salvation. How much research do you do when you receive a role that has its roots in history?
Mads Mikkelsen: It really depends on what we are trying to achieve. In a way, we tried to make The Salvation a contemporary film, with contemporary emotions. At the same time, in the script, you get a feel that all the small talk is not a part of our universe. It’s more precise talk. In terms of riding a horse or a certain way of walking, I can research that. I’m sure that people walked in different ways in those days, as well. If it’s a historical person, I will probably do some research, just to make sure we can get believe something out of the script.
Kristian Levring, the film’s director, was a member of the Dogme95 movement in the late 1990s, as was Thomas Vinterberg, whom you worked with for The Hunt. While working with them, do you notice any similarities in their style and method, since they were both part of this collective?
Mads Mikkelsen: I think they’re very different directors, and I don’t think you can guess they both came from Dogme. Dogme came out from a necessity of trying to put the focus back on track of what it’s all about – the story, the acting, the scenes. It was good for a lot of directors. The film I did with Thomas was somehow based in the Dogme foundation, as well, whereas the film I did with Kristian was very much the other side. It was a beautifully shot film… we had cranes, we had props, we had music, we had all these things that you’re not allowed to have in Dogme.
I can’t leave you without asking… what can you tell us about Hannibal’s upcoming season?
Mads Mikkelsen: I obviously can’t do any spoilers. But I’m on the run with Bedelia and we will end up in Europe, quite a few places in Europe. He’s hiding but as you probably have guessed, when Hannibal is hiding, he’s not really hiding. He’s having the time of his life in Europe.
Are we leaning closer to Thomas Harris’s original novels now?
Mads Mikkelsen: Yes. We will definitely get into the Red Dragon story eventually in this season. The beginning of [this season], it will be probably more what you recognize from the Hannibal book.
Do you know when the season will premiere?
Mads Mikkelsen: I’m not sure. Maybe in May. We’re a little behind schedule, so I have a hunch that it will not come out until maybe late April or May.
That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank Mads very much for his time. Be sure to check out The Salvation as it’s now in theatres!