A. O. Scott in The New York Times today:
On a muggy May afternoon, the Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen stopped in Midtown Manhattan to meet me for a beer and a cheeseburger — a brief pause in the middle of a hectic bout of international zigzagging. He had just been in Bucharest and was en route to Cannes, where he would receive the best-actor award for his performance in Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt,” in which he plays a kindergarten teacher menaced by small-town paranoia after he is accused of sexual abuse.
Vinterberg is best known for “The Celebration,” the one indisputable masterpiece to emerge from the Dogma 95 movement, a flamboyantly austere cinematic tendency that helped put Denmark back on the world movie map in the mid-1990s. Vinterberg does not consider “The Hunt” to be a Dogma film, which suits Mikkelsen fine. “I was never particularly fond of that whole concept,” he said. “I always thought that if it makes a better film to put up a light, then you put up a light.”
Nevertheless, the queasy, intimate naturalism of “The Hunt” hints at the Dogmatic pedigree of its director. Mikkelsen’s other recent Danish-language film, “A Royal Affair,” is almost the opposite. A lavish costume drama directed by Nicolaj Arcel, it tells the story of one of Denmark’s great heroes, Johann Friedrich Struensee, an 18th-century German doctor who brought the ideals of the Enlightenment to a benighted nation while carrying on a steamy affair with its queen.
Moviegoers for whom Mikkelsen’s name is unfamiliar are likely to know him by his wide-set eyes and down-turned mouth. As Le Chiffre, the suave, sadistic Continental villain in the 2006 James Bond reboot “Casino Royale,” he lost to Daniel Craig at the poker table but triumphed in the battle of the cheekbones. He has done the same with Clive Owen in “King Arthur” and Liam Neeson in “Clash of the Titans.”
“Going back and forth — I’ve loved it,” he said of his adventures in the kingdom of the blockbuster. “I got opportunities to do things I’d never do back home. But I’ve also loved going back home, and getting back to working in my native language.”
“The Hunt” and “A Royal Affair” signal his return to making Danish movies after four years away, and confirm his ability to balance the global and the local. In the Hollywood blockbuster universe, Mikkelsen has become a reliable character actor with an intriguing mug. At home he is something else: a star, an axiom, a face of the resurgent Danish cinema.