The DLB had the privilege of speaking to acclaimed Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen earlier today. North American audiences know him best as the villain Le Chiffre from the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006), while genre fans will recognize him as Draco from this year’s Clash of the Titans remake. He also has a supporting role in director Paul W.S. Anderson’s upcoming Three Musketeers remake, playing Rochefort.
But today we are here to talk about Valhalla Rising, his fourth collabo with director Nicolas Winding Refn, after their three Pusher films. In Valhalla, Mikkelsen plays One-Eye, a mute and ruthless warrior in 11th century Scotland who has spent years enslaved, fighting criminals to the death for the pleasure of the chieftain who owns him. He slays his captors and, along with the young boy who tended to his wounds while in captivity, joins up with a group of Vikings who are also would-be Christian crusaders and are out to recapture Jerusalem. The voyage they embark on leads them not only into a heart of darkness but very possibly into hell itself.
The film, which was shot over nine weeks in remote Scotland, has been described by Refn as a metaphysical sci-fi film, with the crusaders’ discovery of America standing in for outer space. Beyond that, Mikkelsen’s performance is intense, even if the lack of dialogue and metaphysical nature of the script makes it difficult to connect with audiences.