How One-Eyed Mads and co look set to break the mould

February 1st, 2013

This article is more than 10 years old.

The Brits aren’t the only ones who tend to be type-cast as a villain – the Danes have that problem too. But all that might be about to change


A potential new agreement between national state broadcaster DR and American TV network HBO will lead to less Danish actors being typecast as the villain, according to Gunhild Agger, a media researcher from Aalborg University.


Agger believes the as-yet unsigned agreement, which according to a report in Politiken will see the broadcasters co-producing a drama that will star equal proportions of both Danish and English-speaking actors, will enable domestic performers to play a greater variety of roles in dramas seen by a considerably larger audience.


“When starring in American movies, Danish actors traditionally get cast as the villain,” Agger told The Copenhagen Post.  “If a future co-production with HBO has a set division of American and Danish characters, this is what it will take to give the Danes a chance to prove their worth in America not just playing ‘the bad guy’.”


With Mads Mikkelsen leading the way, Danish actors have of late carved out a niche playing villains – in Mikkelsen’s case, very often with one eye! Later this year, ‘One-Eyed Mads’ is set to become a household name in the US playing the title character in the forthcoming NBC series ‘Hannibal’ about the serial-killing doctor from the Thomas Harris novels.


Additionally, Mikkelsen played the main Bond villain in ‘Casino Royale’, a franchise that Ulrik Thomsen (‘The World is not Enough’) and Jesper Christensen (‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Quantum of Solace’) have also appeared in as adversaries of the English agent. Meanwhile, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (‘Game of Thrones’) and Nikolaj Lie Kaas (‘Angels & Demons’) are also well-established villains stateside.


“They have a slight Danish accent, which is almost impossible to eliminate,” Agger explained. “Therefore it usually seems much more obvious for the American producers to offer them the roles of the villain instead of the hero, when they are looking for new actors for their productions.”


According to Politiken, HBO has actually asked the Danish scriptwriters to come up with an idea for a TV drama with a similar narrative form and aesthetics to ‘The Killing’. The plan is to show the new TV series both on the American cable channel and on its Scandinavian streaming service, HBO Nordic, which was launched in December. In Agger’s opinion, a co-production in both the English and Danish languages will be a unique chance for Danish TV drama to reach a much broader audience.


“Normally it is extremely difficult to enter the American TV market. They prefer remaking the international TV series they buy, like they did with ’The Killing’,” Agger said. “A co-operation will provide Danish actors with a lot of exposure.” 

However, she warned that it might be difficult to repeat the winning formula of ‘The Killing’.


“They need to be careful to not lose the innovative thinking that has become a trademark of Danish TV drama,” she said.


“The question is whether it will still be able to do this while adapting to the co-operation with their American business partner.”


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