Watch out Mads! Kaas has mass appeal and is closing in fast

Nikolaj Lie Kaas’s latest role will see the Danish actor bring some Nordic Noir chills to a new Hollywood thriller

Few films are generating as much online buzz at the moment as ‘Child 44’, a Stalin-era, serial-killer thriller in post-production that is set to hit cinemas next year.


“Cast of the decade”, proclaim some of the visitors to, and you can see their point. Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman and Vincent Cassel are all at the peak of their powers at present, so it’s fitting – particularly given the obvious influence of Nordic noir on the film – to see that Denmark’s fastest rising star, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, has also landed a part. If this film fulfils its meteoric promise, it could elevate him into international stardom.


Domestically, the 40-year-old has had a successful past 12 months, starring in his country’s most popular TV series and film. His stint in the third and final series of ‘Forbryldsen’ (‘The Killing’) in late 2012 earned him a Robert in March, while his latest film, Mikkel Nørgaard’s ‘Kvinden I Buret’ (‘The Keeper of Lost Causes’), is well on its way to overtaking ‘Jagten’ (‘The Hunt’) as the most popular film at Danish cinemas this year.


His turn as the brooding, no-bullshit cop in the Jussi Adler-Olsen adaptation has cemented him as the shadowy and unshaven male face of the Nordic noir movement. And it will do him no harm appearing alongside his female counterpart, Lisbeth Salander herself (Rapace), in ‘Child 44’, although he has a long way to go to catch her up, and her part is accordingly a lot bigger than his.


Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by British author Tom Rob Smith, the film will be directed by Daniel Espinosa, the Swede who helmed the 2012 Hollywood film ‘Safe House’ starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Dev Patel, Paddy Considine and Kass’s co-star in ‘Kvinden I Buret’, Lebanese actor Fares Fares, are also involved, while Ridley Scott is among the producers.


Meanwhile, Kaas can expect to see his stock rise as ‘Kvinden I Buret’ is released overseas. It has already been sold to 35 territories, and industry insiders expect Zentropa’s sales arm TrustNordisk to sign a US deal with  Magnolia, the same company it passed on the rights of Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’ to.


‘Child 44’ is not Kaas’s first Hollywood film of course – he made a memorably meaty but muted appearance as an assassin in ‘Angels & Demons’, Ron Howard’s follow-up flop to ‘The DaVinci Code’.


And in the meantime, he has some sequels of his own to look forward to. Work on ‘Fasandræberne’, the second adaptation of Adler-Olsen’s Department Q novels, is scheduled to start next year. By the time it comes out, Kaas could potentially be a bigger star than Mads Mikkelsen.