The Danish actor explained why he favors troubled characters and his approach to playing villains.
Mads Mikkelsen is an actor of incredible range, appearing in a wide variety of roles throughout his nearly three-decade career. But arguably his most memorable performances have come not from playing typical good guys, but villains and losers.
And there seems to be a clear reason for this, as in a recent interview the Danish actor explained how his approach to playing villains sets them apart from countless others, and revealed that "losers" hold a special place in his heart.
Speaking to GQ, Mikkelsen said that he uses his experience playing ordinary people in extreme situations, such as Lucas in 2012's The Hunt and Martin in 2020's Another Round, to bring empathy to unlikable characters and make audiences root for them.
Mads also added that he doesn't find one-dimensional good guys particularly interesting, so he gives some of his protagonists "idiot" and loser traits, as for him "the losers are fun [...] because we know them" and "you might have been in that situation yourself sometimes."
This is best illustrated by his breakout role as Tonny in the 1996 crime thriller Pusher, as even though director Nicolas Winding Refn thought it would make him less believable, Mads went with it anyway and instantly became a fan favorite.
Fans point out that the ability to play a convincing villain is one of the traits that separates simply good actors from the great ones, as it is a difficult job to convey all the shades of gray that make them not completely devoid of good.
As for his "losers" being extremely relatable, it is said that Mikkelsen is long overdue for his own share of "literally me" memes, as in addition to Tonny, his performance in Another Round also felt familiar to many viewers.
The actor appeared as the main antagonist Juergen Voller in the recently released Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and while the movie itself seems to be pretty mediocre judging by the reviews, Mads Mikkelsen's performance was as good as ever, even making him the best villain in the franchise according to some.
The film is currently in theaters.