Why Mads Mikkelsen Left Hollywood for Denmark, According to His Director



  • Mads Mikkelsen
    , known for his international roles, has returned to his homeland of Denmark to make recent films like
    Riders of Justice,
    Another Round
    , and the newly released film,
    The Promised Land
  • Director Nikolaj Arcel, who previously worked with Mikkelsen on
    A Royal Affair
    , also chose to head back to Denmark to make films (such as
    The Promised Land
  • Mikkelsen and Arcel enjoy the freedom and creative control they have when making films in Denmark, without interference from corporate suits.

Many international stars and directors flock to Hollywood after finding success in their home countries. Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars throughout film history originated far from America, and Mads Mikkelsen is one of them. One of the best actors of his generation, Mikkelsen started off with highly acclaimed Danish films from directors like Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher), Susanne Bier (Open Hearts, After the Wedding) and, Lone Scherfig (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself).

Of course, Mads Mikkelsen is now known internationally for Casino Royale, Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and, of course, his titular role in NBC’s brilliant series, Hannibal. However, Mikkelsen has found himself in the gravitational pull of Denmark, making the recent films Riders of Justice and the Oscar-winning Another Round in his homeland. His latest film is another Danish production, The Promised Land, directed by Nikolaj Arcel.

Arcel directed Mikkelsen 12 years ago for the Oscar-nominated period drama, A Royal Affair. Like Mads, the director then headed to Hollywood to helm major studio blockbusters. However, the film he ended up directing, The Dark Tower, left him wanting to return home to make Danish cinema. It was a feeling that Mikkelsen could relate to, and something the two men seem to be intent on. Arcel explained:

“We are talking about doing something else together. The thing about coming home and doing something — I think I’ll give you a metaphor that me and Mads are using at times. So if you imagine this little playground, and we’re playing in this playground, and people are leaving us alone, and we’re having fun, right, and we’re just we’re just building sandcastles and doing what we love and having fun doing it — that’s working in Denmark.

“Now, take that playground and put it into a corporate-like building, a corporation with 55 suits watching over you and telling you where to build the castle and how to build the castle and at what time to build the castle. It’s not quite as fun anymore, you know, the playground is a little claustrophobic.”

“So going back to Denmark is really freedom,” continued Acel. “Freedom to have final cut, freedom to retain the vision that is yours. Nobody gets to interfere with the little playground during the game that you’re playing, and I think that Mads and I both love that, because then we can be our own critics. We can push each other to try to achieve what we want to achieve, and not have a lot of other people whispering in our ears.”

Related: The Promised Land Review | A Classic Historical Epic with Mads Mikkelsen’s Swagger

Mads Mikkelsen Is ‘Very Sweet’ and a ‘True Partner’

When speaking to MovieWeb about The Promised Land in our video interview above, Arcel heaped praise upon Mikkelsen, elaborating about the man and his skills:

One of the things that I love about working with Mads is that he’s not only a great actor, he’s so talented, he’s so incredible, but he’s also a very sweet, nice guy to work with, very down-to-earth. He’s a true partner in the sense that he will take responsibility for the story alongside you as a director, so he will really worry about the same things that you worry about as a director.

“He will go into the script and really sort of help you and try and figure out, “What are we trying to say here? What’s the story about at this point?” continued Arcel. “And he will really help me shape the story and always remember even the details. He will be great at sort of keeping an eye out, so he’s like a multitasking, multi-talented guy to have by your side.”

And he’s the perfect man for this great film. The Promised Land was released Feb. 2, 2024, and is still in theaters from Magnolia Pictures. You can check out the trailer for it below:

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