The people of Denmark say he's the sexiest man in the world. The rest of the planet will soon know him as Le Chiffre, James Bond's nemesis in the upcoming Casino Royale. Career-wise, the role is a nice advance for the 41-year-old, an ex-gymnast and dancer best known for the hard-as-nails Pusher, a Tarantino favorite. Want to know more? Grab Dark Side of the Moon, some pork scratchings, and get ready for a murderous game of handball.
Name: Mads Dittmann Mikkelsen
Born: November 22, 1965 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
First memory: I was standing in my backyard with my big brother when I was four or five. Somebody threw a big chunk of ice in his face, and he started crying. Then I started throwing ice at these guys, and they did the same to me. Kind of a violent memory, but it's always violent stuff with me.
Biggest thrill as a child: I loved sports: gymnastics, handball ... I remember riding on my bicycle back and forth from these events and feeling the thrill of, "Now I'm going to play handball!" I love that feeling.
Did you sit at the back or the front of the class? I was a pretty good student. Then everything fell apart in high school. It's the classic story; girls, cigarettes... I once missed an exam because I went to a David Gilmour concert with a friend. We came in two hours late with a hangover and got expelled for awhile.
First record bought: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. I wasn't into music at all, and all of sudden I heard that masterpiece. I was 15 years old and thinking, "Wow, this is me!"
First concert attended: A Danish band called Sneakers. They played funk rock, like Living Colour. Then I matured a little and got into the Pink Floyd thing.
First date: Danes don't go on dates. You pick girls up at school or parties. The first girl who broke my heart was named Tina. She was a couple of grades above me. We went together for a couple of months. Then all of a sudden she lost interest. Isn't that heartbreaking? I was the smallest kid in school, the funny guy. So she hung out with me for awhile, but that was it.
First R-rated movie: A double feature of Halloween and Deep Throat. I was about 13½ when I went to see that with my friends. A good experience -- horror and porn. I sat back in the chair like, "What is this?"
Last book read: This really big biography of Stalin. I like reading about preposterous people who've been dictators. I wonder how the hell they pull it off. They're all basically complete idiots, but they have this one little thing that can control people. How on earth can this happen, and still happen all over the world?
Favorite sandwich: Parma ham and parmesan cheese. When I'm away from Denmark, I miss crispy pork skins, served with potatoes sweetened in sugar and red cabbage.
Favorite item of clothing: The Diesel pants I'm wearing now. I bought them in Sweden a couple of years ago. They're totally worn out now, but I can't dump them. They're like a second skin.
Previous jobs: I worked in a bank, was a dishwasher in a cafe and delivered false teeth. Usually I went to the dentists. Occasionally I'd deliver them privately. The customers aren't that strange, but they sometimes looked scary without their teeth.
Favorite time of day: Depends on the mood. If you're a really happy guy the morning is beautiful; it's a new day! If you're not that happy, the evenings are melancholy, good periods. I think 5 or 6 in the evening is a beautiful time for going out and playing ball with your friends or your family or your kid.
Hanging on my bedroom wall: Pictures of our kids and some drawings they've done. It's nothing I have any say about, because it's my wife actually doing that stuff!
Hobbies: Anything with a ball: basketball, tennis, soccer. I play handball on a team. It's a violent sport. I got injured just before the Casino Royale auditions. I broke a rib. A major big guy landed on me. I fall really strange. When I fall, I crack like an egg.
Ambitions: There's no Hamlet out there. Everybody's played Hamlet before, so I don't see the reason for me to do it. I like the projects where people come up with new stories and new ideas, something they burn for, you know? That becomes my new favorite part every time.
Favorite Madonna Record: It would be so hard for me to quote any songs she's done. She's more like a PR Stunt then she is a singer. I have a hard time remembering what she's doing as art, but I remember she kissed this lady on stage, and then next time she's a virgin, and next she's in a religious cult. She did a remake of Don McLean's "American Pie." I kind of liked that one.
If I could be any character from history: Genghis Khan! Another dictator that was way, way, way out there. It would be fun to see what is going on inside these people. They have the opportunity to change the world for the better and they never do. What's happening when they're standing on the edge and make the choice--is this going to be a better place or my place? He wore cool clothes, too. That would be fun.
Last good joke I heard recently: Ah, man. The best jokes are always racist jokes or jokes about taboo things. Who do they make fun of in Denmark? Germans and Swedes mostly. They've got so many rules and everything is so correct. You can't remember jokes when you have to ... only after a couple of beers. Can you call me back after a couple of beers?