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Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange, Kaecilius

Interview with a Villain – Doctor Strange’s Mads Mikkelsen

The role of the villain has always intrigued me. I’ve interviewed loads of villains and I’m always curious to know how they turn it up for their role. Mads Mikkelsen was no different in the case of his role as Kaecilius in Doctor Strange. 

I was excited to meet Mads and talk to him about his villainous ways. I’ve been a fan of his since Hannibal and I’m super stoked for his upcoming role in Rogue One. Mads had a lot to say about preparing for the role of Kaecilius, being on set and having the most difficult costume in the film.

Doctor Strange is in theaters everywhere tomorrow, Nov. 4th in IMAX 3d

Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange, Kaecilius
Photo Dusty Pendleton 2016

My Interview with Mads Mikkelsen AKA Kaecilius

Our interview took place at the Montage Beverly Hills following my interviews with Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton and Director Scott Derrickson. Mads was a lot fo fun to talk to. He had a great energy and actually was quite funny.

Like who doesn’t want to make a Marvel film of sweet Kung Fu moves right? Mads talks about getting talking to Scott Derrickson about his role.

It’s Marvel. You know, I mean he was pitching on the phone the story, and then I remember Scott said, “And then, it’s a lot of, you know, a lot of Kung Fu stuff, flying, but don’t worry, we got stunt guys for that.” I was like, “Wow, hold, wow, wow, hold on, what’d you say?” “We’ve got st-.” “No, no, rewind back, Kung Fu?, I’m on!” So, it’s like Marvel and flying Kung Fu, I was like, I think that could be a yes. I’ve always wanted to be Bruce Lee when I was a kid. And I had to wait until I was 51 years old to be a slightly older version of him, just less good of course. It was, it was something I’ve always wanted to do when I was a kid.

Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange, Kaecilius
Photo Disney / Marvel 2016

So how does one prepare to play the Villain anyway? I mean you go from a regular person who’s generally not trying to sabotage the planet to all out evil villain. Mads talks about researching influences for the role and his villainous inspirations.

The script is the bible. This is where the character, he is in there somewhere together with the director. We can approach it different ways. I think inspiration wise, I mean, like all good leaders in the world, like all good religious leaders, all political leaders, they have an ability to speak to the people in the way that they understand.

Let’s say Jonestown, right? But if you look at Jones today you go, “Wow, that’s bad karma. That’s just terrible. How could people buy into that?” Right. If you look at this character with his mask on, you would also say that. But he (Kaecilius) has a point. He has a point. He’s saying stuff that makes sense to a degree. He wants to make the world a better place, uh different means to get there. But he still has the goal of making the world a better place.

So, I think that was the approach, to have a certain kind of religious leader figuring into it when we did it. Obviously he’s not only talking, he’s also being quite physical. But, as all good dictators, it takes some sacrifices, right?

Christopher Walken is a hero of mine, and I think he has the ability to somehow make the villains likeable. Whether it’s his personality, or whether it’s that he chose a part that was dualistic written so it makes sense, I don’t know. Some of the great actors can do that, The Joker is a fantastic example. We love to hate him, you know

Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange, Kaecilius
Photo Dusty Pendleton 2016

If you don’t already know, this film is visually captivating..and remember that part about Marvel and Kun Fu? You can bet there were challenges on set. Mads talks about his challenges, on set prep, challenging scenes and funny moments with Benedict.

Yeah, logistic is obviously, you’ve seen the film, you know that it’s upside-down mirrored. We try to kind of cope with all that, we might be hanging upside down on the ceiling, and it’s like, “Wow, where’s Strange now? Is he on the left side or the right side? Am I hiding that way or that way?” And we constantly had to go see the previous little videos they have of what we’re doing with animated characters and try to stand and go, “Okay, so he’s there, and he’s, okay, so that means he’s up there.” So, it was very tricky to get that right.

A challenging scene was where we (Kaecilius and Doctor Strange) did that fight sequence for three weeks. Yeah, it’s not two hours, it’s probably eight or 10 hours, you know, fighting each other every day. And you do hurt the next day.

On set prep varies from the characters I’m playing, depending on what kind of energy they have, and what kind of scene they’re approaching. I will warm up. It’s not a specific ritual, but I will try to get into that energy by myself, somewhere in the corner. If it’s a different kind of scene, where everybody’s having a good time, I might spend a lot of time with the actors before we do it. But, I often walk around in a corner somewhere.

Regarding funny moments on set, there was one thing, I was hitting what Benedict had, with a real metal thingy. So, we swapped out Benedict so if something went wrong, at least we still had the main actor. But it was quite elaborate. I had to jump over something, jump down, and then just like right across his head, as he was bending down, and go through this glass cabinet, double glass all the way. So, I had to really swing for it, right? And we did it, and it was so awesome, everything was awesome over here. Actually, that wasn’t cut, but you can only go on for a while. I couldn’t go on. I just left. I thought it was the funniest thing ever. [LAUGHS]

Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange, Kaecilius
Photo Disney / Marvel 2016

So what’s a typical day like on set for a Marvel villain? Mads talks about set times, costume and production length of scenes.

5:20AM: “You go to set, and you sit in a chair for three hours, and you meet the other guys, and you talk about what we’re supposed to do, or we’re about to do.

8:20AM: “I probably smoke a cigarette, and we go in and work.”

6/7/8:00PM: “I go home at six, seven, eight in the evening

We went to do some of the tests and we were doing the makeup, and I insisted on, ‘can I bring the costume and have it on when we do the makeup, just to see how it looks together,’right? And, they were spot on. We were sitting in there for hours trying out this makeup, and I was like, ‘Oh god, do I really wanna do this every day?’  [LAUGHS] You know? But then it turned out so fantastic, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s it. Three hours every day, we’ll do it.

It was quite heavy. Not crazy heavy, but it was, it was not light. Obviously, we just got in shape. Every day, the more you were wearing it, the stronger you got. It didn’t feel featherlight in the end of it, but in the beginning it was like, serious? Am I gonna jump up there now in this? Like, wow! But the more we worked out with it, the, the more it makes sense.

This is a big sequence, one thing is to do stunts. We can do that in a certain amount of time. But if you have things crashing, it takes time to set it up, and make sure that there’s no risk, and everybody’s fine. So it takes time. And if you f@*% it up once, it takes three hours to rebuild it, right?

Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange, Kaecilius, POSTER
Photo Disney / Marvel 2016



So how does Mads feel about being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars Galaxy? Well, pretty awesome that’s for sure.

It seems appropriate. No, it feels fantastic. I mean, as a Dane who started out acting 20 years ago back home, late starter, I never imagined that I would work in America at all, a little less that I would work in a Marvel film. So, it feels as if I’m a very fortunate person.

Doctor Strange is in theaters everywhere tomorrow, Nov. 4th in IMAX and 3d!

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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