The room of 25 bloggers was about to interview Mads Mikkelsen who brings to life Kaecilius in the November 4, 2016 release of Marvel’s Doctor Strange when I knew there was plenty of fans on Twitter who would have love to have been in the room with us. When we tweeted out a call for questions for Mads ahead of this interview we were flooded with requests. There was so much love for this actor and we even had a few marriage proposals to pass along.
While no one got down on one knee during the interview we were able to speak with him about his role as Kaecilius in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. There was no way we could have asked all the questions we wanted in the short time allotted so here is how the rapid fire questioning took place.
Like many students at Kamar-Taj, Kaecilius arrived at the mystical compound seeking the secrets of The Multiverse. He turned his back on The Ancient One and her teachings when he believed certain knowledge was being kept from him. It’s within these forbidden powers Kaecilius sees the answer to all mankind’s suffering—the ability to alleviate the pains of the human condition. Kaecilius, joined by his Zealot followers, will use every malevolent tool at his disposal to see our reality melded with shadowy powers of this other dimension even if it leads to the destruction of existence as we know it.
Will you be collecting yourself as a toy figure?
I’ve been waiting 51 years for that. So I think, yes.
Do you prefer the villain to collect, or the superhero? What’s your favorite?
I’ll take the villain. In terms of playing characters, I think that any good hero, or any good villain has to be interesting, having both sides of the coin. And I think that’s exactly what Marvel always does, right?
Which was your favorite scene to shoot?
It was quite a few scenes that I loved shooting but the great encounter I have with Benedict, which starts out with a long fight, and ends up with me making the speech. I mean, he’s onto something. He has a point. I thought that, that was a brilliant sequence to do.
Three Hours, Every Day
When was the first time you saw yourself in makeup, costume, everything?
It was fantastic. We went to do some of the tests, we were doing the makeup and I insisted on bringing the costume and have it on when we did the makeup. Just to see how it looks together. They were spot on. We were sitting in there for hours trying out this makeup and I was thinking, “Oh god, do I really wanna do this every day?” But then it turned out so fantastic. “Yeah, that’s it. Three hours every day, we’ll do it. It worth it, really.”
What did you do during that time?
You just close your eyes and go through the scene you’re gonna do that day. If you’re not doing it in the makeup chair, you’ll do it in your own trailer. So, I did it in the makeup chair.
What is it like removing all that makeup, what is the process?
It didn’t feel as if you could move your skin. It didn’t feel restricted in, in a way. Our skin was not super happy with it after when you took it off, obviously.But luckily we, sometimes we had a day break and we will restore the skin a little. But working with it was fantastic because it looked fantastic and then there was no restrictions in it.
How does it feel to not only have your name cemented in Marvel universe, but also the Star Wars Universe?
It seems appropriate. It feels fantastic. I never imagined that I would work in America at all never the less that I would work in a Marvel film. So I’m a very fortunate person.
Do you feel like you’re being typecast as a villain due to your phenomenal performance in Hannibal?
If the alternative is not to work, I’ll take the villain. Luckily I do a lot of different things back home in Europe so I’m not starving in the sense of, ‘Why am I always the villain?’ If it’s this kind of villain, I’ll take it any day.
How do you tap into being a villain?
Well, it’s obviously it’s in the script somewhere. You lean into the script. For me the script is always the most important tool and from there I’ll develop the character with the director, of course.
Is there anyone particularly who has influenced you in your villainous roles? You have more than one.
Not to compare at all but some of my favorite actors have been playing villains as well. Christopher Walken is a hero of mine and I think he has the ability to somehow make the villains likable. 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. It’s just that some of the great actors can do that. The joker is a fantastic example. We love to hate him, you know?
What’s the most challenging scene emotionally and physically?
Well, that would be the one I mentioned before, the scene where we did that fight sequence for three weeks. It’s probably eight or 10 hours fighting each other every day. You do hurt the next day.
Do all the scenes take that long generally?
No. This is a big sequence because of the stunts. We can do that in a certain amount of time. But if you have things crashing and it takes time to set it up, make sure that everybody’s fine. And so just takes time. If you [mess] it up once, it takes three hours to rebuild.
How do you prepare for your role?
We had a lot of preparation from the very beginning with the stunt guys. We were taught some basic martial arts moves that will go again and again in the film. And having fairly small people teaching us bigger people to do things on the floor like that, we felt like clowns, right? But I think we did our best and we came after it.
Is there a type of role that you want to do that you haven’t been able to yet?
No. I don’t have a tiny Hamlet in me. I think thats been done numerous time to perfection. There’s a vision from the, that vision becomes my vision and that becomes my dream role at that second.
Why did you wanna take on this role?
It’s Marvel. 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 said I think, I think that could be a yes.
When researching the character and creating the character, what were your motivations, what were your influences there?
Twitter Loves You
Oh, thanks a lot. I love them as well. As I said before, 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… in the world, like all good religious leaders, all political leaders, they have have an ability to speak to the people in the way that they understand.
Let’s say Jonestown, right? But if you look at Jonestown today, you see the old and go, “Wow, that’s bad karma. That’s just terrible. How could people buy into that?” Right.
And if you look at this character with his mask on you would also say that. But it, he has a point. He’s saying stuff that makes sense to a degree. He wants to make the world a better place and a different means to get there. But he still have the goal of making the world a better place.
Did you film all the scenes together in one environment? Or did you have those moments where you did have people actually write those heroes in the movie, but you were shooting the scene all by yourself?
No. We were rarely by ourselves. We try as much as we can to have the real actors there as an eyeline to act with. Obviously if somebody has been working their butts off for five weeks we might say, “It’s okay, go home, I’ll use something as an eyeline.” But if it’s a bigger interaction scene, we do insist on having each other there.
Your costume itself seemed like it was pretty heavy with a lot layers, did that cause any difficulties?
It was quite heavy. Not crazy heavy but it was not light. Obviously, we just go in shape. Every day, the more you were wearing it, the stronger you got. It didn’t feel featherlight in the end. 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 more it makes sense.
Is there anything you kept from the set?
I did. I always keep something, right? Yes there is, but I can’t tell you because they’d want it back.
Is there a funny moment from the set that sticks out for you?
There’s quite a lot of funny moments from the set I would say. It’s hard to remember one. I mean, once we, if you sit down and drink five beers, they all come back, right? There was one thing. I was hitting to 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. 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. And actually, that wasn’t cut but can you only go on for a while. I couldn’t go on. I just left. I thought it was the funniest thing ever! So you have this, everything’s so cool, you just see this actor go, “That was fun.” You know? I couldn’t help myself. It was just like something like your dad paying you to break the neighbor’s windows. I hope they managed to cut that out.
Do you have a ritual that helps you prepare before you go on the set? Something you have to do religiously every morning?
It varies from the characters I’m playing, depending on what kind of energy they have and what kind of scene they’re approaching. 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, but I often walk around in a corner somewhere.
Can you explain a typical day on set for you?
A typical day, because of the makeup, would be at five pick up in the morning, or there about. Depending on where you’re staying in the city. I was smart enough to move to Windsor, so I had 20 minutes as opposed to two hours. And then you go to set, and you sit in a chair for three hours, you meet the other guys, you talk about what we’re supposed to do, or we’re about to do. I probably smoke a cigarette and we go in and work. And then I go home at six, seven, eight in the evening.
But there is more!
Marvel Studios Teams Up With Save The Children to Raise Fund Through Hero Acts
Marvel Studios has a very exciting announcement! With the help of Fotition, Marvel fans can upload a photo of themselves in their favorite super hero pose and Marvel will donate $5 to Save The Children. This activation runs through the end of 2016 or until fans have uploaded enough for Marvel to donate one million dollars.
Hear from Benedict Cumberbatch himself:
Marvel Studios will donate five dollars ($5) to Save the Children. Up to U.S. one million dollars, for every fan who uploads a photo of themselves in their favorite Marvel hero pose. Marvel Studios is collaborating with Fotition, a new social change platform, to power the experience on a brand-new website MarvelStudiosHeroActs.
Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE is in theaters everywhere on November 4th!