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Colin Covert, Published August 01 2013

Mads Mikkelsen, known for portraying Dr. Lecter, is always on hunt for good roles

MINNEAPOLIS – It’s hard to put a frame around Mads Mikkelsen. The tall, saturnine Danish star was the bad guy in “Casino Royale” and a courageous World War II resistance fighter in “Flame & Citron.” He’s just completed his first season as the suave, omnivorous Dr. Lecter in NBC’s “Hannibal.”

In “The Hunt,” he plays a kindhearted schoolteacher wrongfully accused of a terrible crime. His performance in the psychological thriller won him the best actor prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. He’s even been knighted by the queen of Denmark. But he still recalls being jeered at the curtain call the first time he played Romeo.

“One night I remember we had more than 20 people booing in the back row. It wasn’t that rare, and it wasn’t a nice feeling,” Mikkelsen said by phone from New York City. “Luckily, I was coming in for my bow joined up with Juliet, so I could always blame her.”

A gymnast and dancer before he became an actor, Mikkelsen “realized I was more in love with drama. I got my eyes opened by everything Scorsese had done, the whole period of the ’70s and ’80s in American movies,” he said. “Taxi Driver” was a revelation.

“It was the first film where I had this mixed emotion when I watched it. DeNiro, I didn’t like him, then I liked him, then I didn’t like him, then I liked him again. It was throwing up questions to me. I had to be active and think about what I saw instead of just giving me the answers. I was used to seeing films where that one’s a goodie, that one’s a baddie. Here I could not place him, he was a mystery to himself. It was a fantastic way of giving me a dilemma as an audience.” That paradox shaped his approach to acting ever afterward, he said.