Mads Mikkelsen may have credits in blockbusters like Casino Royale and the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but in Doctor Strange he finally gets to do what he’s always wanted: kung fu.
Ahead of the Marvel movie’s arrival in theaters on Friday, Mikkelsen spoke to EW about his character — the sorcerer Kaecilius — plus the villain’s distinctive eye makeup and why he wanted to take on the role.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Benedict Cumberbatch told me that your Doctor Strange character is a “dastardly villain.” But I’ve heard that you don’t think of him as a villain at all.
MADS MIKKELSEN: Yes. But that’s always a good thing about villains, if they are interesting — if you have a goal that the audience goes, “That’s a pretty cool goal.” His mission is not necessarily so much different than Doctor Strange’s. He wants to create a better world. But his means are probably not what everybody would agree are okay.
What interested you about the role?
It’s flying kung fu! I didn’t hesitate. [Director] Scott Derrickson was pitching the story on the phone, and within five minutes he said something about kung fu, and I said, “Say that again.” “Well, there’s a lot of physicality, kung fu, and obviously you don’t have to do the whole thing, we have stunt guys.” “I’m on! I’m doing the whole thing! I’m on!” [Laughs] It’s a childhood dream. Bruce Lee was my biggest hero and still is. At the age of 50, you get to do stuff that you probably should have done when you were 15. But hey, who am I to say no?
The makeup around your eyes in this film is crazy. What was that process like?
It took almost three hours. It’s a nice warm-up! You get in the chair, and you try to relax and focus on the day’s work ahead of you. So I don’t mind at all. My skin is disagreeing completely, because for weeks in a row of doing that, your skin gets very sick and tired of doing it.
Why does your character wear it?
Now, see, that is one of the things you have to see the film to understand. Or maybe I can tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.
Moving on. Your brother, Lars, played a villain opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock. Did Lars give a good report of him?
Absolutely. He loved the way Benedict welcomes people on board on what is predominately his show. I think we need to hook up now, me and my brother, and eventually we’ll get away with killing him in one film, because we’re not doing a good job.
So it takes two Mikkelsens to kill a Cumberbatch?
I’m not sure two’s enough. But we’ll give it a shot!