Mads Mikkelsen is Filming Indiana Jones 5: Why is Hollywood Stereotyping Him as a Big Bad?

Mads Mikkelsen, Festival de Venise (Mostra),Nicolas Genin CC BY-SA 2.0

If you enjoy foreign or arthouse films, you’ve likely seen Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen, playing lead characters that are anything but villainous. His movie Another Round just won The Academy’s Oscar for International Feature Film. In fact, his character, Martin is quite a departure from the heavies he plays in Hollywood. Not only doesn’t he kill anyone or die in the film, but he’s also a schoolteacher and family man attempting to recover his passion for life.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Fair use Wikimedia 33372079

In fact, after seeing Another Round, which is Mikkelsen’s second movie with director Thomas Vinterberg, you might be thrilled to know he’s now in almost every major film franchise, but you might wonder why it’s always as the big bad? So far, he’s appeared in a Bond (Casino Royale), a Marvel (Doctor Strange), a Star Wars (Rogue One), a Potter World (Fantastic Beasts 3), and now he’s co-starring with Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones 5, which began filming in the UK this week. Mads Mikkelsen’s character in Indiana Jones is a villain. Oh, what a surprise. If he wasn’t playing a big bad, it would be a spectacular departure from Hollywood typecasting!

Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars (1964) Public Domain, Wikimedia commons 25888150

Admittedly, Hollywood can be quite slow to realize exceptional talent, and upon recognizing it, can be reluctant to cast that talent properly. Let’s not forget that Clint Eastwood was told, before even starting his career in film, not to bother as he would never be cast in even a supporting role — because of the space between his front teeth. Years later, most of us find that unbelievably short-sighted and humorous in light of the storied career Eastwood had as an actor, and later, as director and producer. However, Hollywood is well-known for its superficiality and for taking its time to come around.

Herre Mikkelsen (R) is a Dane who splits his off-work time between his Copenhagen home and his family’s vacation home in Mallorca, Spain. He’s also knighted in two countries — Denmark (Dannebrog, Order of White Knights) and France, (Order of Arts & Letters) — and speaks 8 languages. Despite his Ridder, Chevalier, and polyglot statuses, he still has a slight accent he hasn’t completely eradicated from his American movie presence, so perhaps Hollywood is reluctant to cast him in a good-guy lead role because of it? That would be ironic because not only is America a melting pot, but the James Bond franchise, which Hollywood owns a piece of — and which Mikkelsen has been notably seen in (as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale) —gave us a Scotsman (Sean Connery) with a heavy brogue as the supposedly quintessential and genteel British 007.

Mads Mikkelsen(R) Photo: Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, 26490662

Mikkelsen’s turn as the bad guy in Indiana Jones 5, which is set to release in late July of 2022, has him cast as a Third Reich-scientist who is recruited by the US to work at NASA as part of Operation Paperclip.

While Hollywood may be subject to selective blindness at times, at least the Danish actor is getting hired frequently enough that his worldwide fans — now a considerable number since his Hannibal series came to a close after 3 seasons on network television — can see him in three new movies at the moment. Chaos Walking opened in theaters last month, the Oscar-winning Another Round released in 2020 and is on streaming services, and most recently Riders of Justice directed by Anders Thomas Jensen is out on both demand and streaming platforms.

Michael Kohlhaas (2013), Fair use 39397367

Mads Mikkelsen, known in Europe as one of the best — if not the best — actor working today, can be seen next year not only in Indiana Jones 5 but also in the Fantastic Beasts franchise (installment 3) as the new Gellert Grindelwald, replacing Johnny Depp. In considerable demand, Mads is an actor with astonishing range, having played everything from a mute, Odin-sighted, Roman Gladiator-rage-machine in Valhalla Rising (2009), to an idealistic vicar in Adam’s Apples (2005) to Michael Kohlhaas — Age of Uprising (2013) the iconic character at the center of von Kleist’s 16th-century literary masterpiece.

Meanwhile, Leo DiCaprio’s companies have purchased the rights to remake Mikkelsen and Vinterberg’s movie, Another Round (Druk in Europe), ostensibly because Americans can’t, uh . . . read subtitles?

Fair use, Wikimedia 65388617

After the European movie buzz, which gained both the actor and his director several European awards, including BAFTA, and adding to that its U.S. Oscar-win for Best Foreign Film, Mikkelsen’s fans — most of whom have seen Another Round and love it as is — got more than a little disgruntled on Twitter and Instagram in the week following the announcement that DiCaprio would remake it for American cinema — even going so far as to post Photoshopped pictures of Mikkelsen into the roles DiCaprio had played in Titanic and The Wolf of Wall Street. Mikkelsen’s amazing dance segment (he was a professional dancer before becoming an actor) at the end of the movie Another Round began going up all over social media, with comments like, “I’d like to see Leo try this!” Several fans suggested that Mads Mikkelsen should simply “remake all of Leo Dicaprio’s films — because he can — and because he’s that good.” Indeed. It’s too bad Hollywood hasn’t gotten that memo.

B. Roxy Rogers is a journalist, fiction author, TEFL educator, and digital nomad.

Her latest writing projects are STRANGER THAN FICTION: A biopic of Brian Howe’s era with Bad Company (nonfiction) and REDEEMING ROCHEFORT (fiction) an alternate-history/paranormal/fantasy romance. Both books are forthcoming from Green Lady Publishing. When not writing or quarantining, her passions are focused on Europe, 80s EBM/industrial music, arthouse films, and dance.

Rogers is a journalist, fiction author, TEFL educator, & digital nomad. Her passions are Europe, 80s EBM/industrial music, arthouse films, & dance @RoxyWrites

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