In recent years, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen has become a widely recognized face, appearing in a beloved TV series and major film franchises such as the MCU (Doctor Strange), Star Wars (Rogue One), and more. In April, he joined another massive franchise in his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the latest Fantastic Beasts movie.
Throughout his career, Mikkelsen has more than proven his worth as a leading man. If you’re unfamiliar with Mikkelsen’s work, there’s no time like the present to get acquainted with him. And don’t worry, we’ll help you get started. Read on to find out why that Hulu subscription is worth keeping.
Sorry. What I meant was, read on for six Mads Mikkelsen projects you need to watch ASAP.
Hannibal – Hulu
I would be remiss if I didn’t kick off this list with what is arguably Mikkelsen’s best role to date — Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Mikkelsen took up the mantle in NBC’s television adaptation of the Thomas Harris novels. The series explored the relationship between Hannibal and criminal profiler Will Graham as they assisted the FBI in profiling and catching serial killers. And, of course, Hannibal did a little elusive serial killing on the side.
In my humble opinion, Mikkelsen boasts the best iteration of Hannibal Lecter to date. What NBC’s Hannibal allowed Mikkelsen to do is bring so much depth and nuance to a well-established and iconic character on both the screen and the page. Everything about Hannibal is carefully deliberate, and so, too, is everything about Mikkelsen’s performance. He’s intelligent, handsome, suave, and hobby of choice aside, a perfect gentleman (#EatTheRude). But what’s most astounding is Mikkelsen’s ability to make viewers sympathize with Hannibal. He understands this character and ensures viewers do, too. The work he put in pays off tenfold. (And how about that insane chemistry with Hugh Dancy?)
Men & Chicken – Hulu
If you’re looking for something completely different from Mikkelsen’s repertoire, look no further. Men & Chicken is a dark comedy that focuses on Elias (Mikkelsen) and Gabriel, brothers who learn they were adopted and only share a biological father. When they set out to learn more about their origins, they learn something more shocking than they could’ve imagined.
Elias is a far, far, FAR cry from Hannibal Lecter. He’s also the perfect character to showcase Mikkelsen’s ability to slip into any kind of role. Elias is a strange one, and Mikkelsen not only emphasizes that, but his performance is just so dang funny. He brings every little quirk out in full force in a way that both draws similarities to the others and makes Elias stand out. His comedic timing is impeccable, and there are several moments that will have viewers laughing out loud. Mikkelsen so wholly, effortlessly embodies Elias. This is an odd movie, I won’t lie. But it’s worth watching, and Mikkelsen will certainly leave an impression.
Arctic – Hulu
In another change of pace, Mikkelsen proves he needs only himself to command the screen in Arctic. The movie follows Overgård, a man who’s stranded in — you guessed it — the arctic. After a rescue helicopter crashes, he brings one of the pilots (who’s barely clinging to life) back to his camp, where he must decide whether to stay put or brave the treacherous terrain.
In a film with two cast members and only one with significant action, much of it relied heavily on Mikkelsen’s performance. And to absolutely no one’s surprise, he delivered. It’s important for viewers to feel some sort of connection with Overgård, lest they lose interest. From the get-go, Mikkelsen establishes that connection. He displays Overgård’s strong survival instinct, his caring nature, and the desperation of someone who just wants the entire ordeal to be over. Mikkelsen lays out every frustration, and every triumph (no matter how small it might be). With every facet of his performance, viewers are right there with him, feeling at least a small portion of what Overgård experiences.
Casino Royale – Netflix
In the first installment of Daniel Craig’s time as Bond, the 00 agent heads on a mission to stop a banker called Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen) who funds terrorists worldwide. To do so, Bond participates in a high-stakes poker game in which he must defeat Le Chiffre.
I have only seen Craig’s run as Bond, so I don’t know how Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre holds up against the franchise’s past villains. Nevertheless, and quite expectedly, he solidifies himself as a formidable opponent for Craig’s 007. He and Craig play well off each other in the scenes they share. Mikkelsen is no stranger to villain roles, and what works so well with Le Chiffre is that he’s able to hold onto the “this guy is Not Good, but he can be real mellow” front that morphs into something more frightening (and dangerous) with each situation. While Mikkelsen’s screen time is relatively minimal, his impact is anything but.
Another Round – Hulu
For those looking for something more light-hearted, Another Round is an excellent choice for a movie night. Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-winning film follows four teachers and friends who decide to indulge in alcohol on a regular basis, for science. Each day they consume a little more, testing how it affects their lives.
One of my favorite aspects of this movie is the camaraderie between the group, and Mikkelsen fits perfectly within it. They have such a wonderful dynamic that never fully disappears even when things start to go downhill. Mikkelsen gives his character, Martin, steady development. He builds on Martin’s happiness, breathing so much life into a character who was resigned to only going through the motions. In all of that, he also doesn’t forget the gravity of the consequences that follow. Plus, that final scene is absolutely glorious.
Riders of Justice – Hulu
Rounding off this list is one of Mikkelsen’s more recent projects. The movie follows Markus, a military man forced to return home to his daughter, Mathilde, after his wife dies in a tragic train accident. When Markus learns the accident may have been a targeted attack, he teams up with three others (including someone else who was on the train) to find out what really happened.
I think it’s safe to say that Mikkelsen thrives in roles that lean towards the more brutal side of things, and Markus is a great example of that. As he and the others begin to unravel everything, Markus’ fight-or-definitely-fight instincts take over. Mikkelsen is unflinching in demonstrating the ruthless nature of the character. Violent coping mechanisms aside, Markus is still also grieving (whether he wants to acknowledge it or not). It’s so interesting watching how Markus dealt with his wife’s death and trying, in his own way, to comfort Mathilde. Mikkelsen maintains the generally composed side of Markus. But when the moment calls for it, he’s quick to express every burst of emotion Markus feels, bringing a dynamic and compelling performance.
Mikkelsen has two confirmed upcoming projects. The first is the fifth installment of Indiana Jones, which is expected to release on June 30, 2023. He will also star in the film adaptation of The Billion Dollar Spy. There’s currently no projected release date.