Danish actors: the secret of their small screen success

Lars Mikkelsen the nations latest rising star, with Danish television success set to continue

Since Friday, viewers all over the world have been hungrily devouring the latest season of 'House of Cards', the breakout Netflix hit starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

However, this time around the American pair are sharing the limelight with their Danish co-star Lars Mikkelsen, whose Vladimir Putin impersonation as the Russian premiere Viktor Petrov in the third episode was complemented by a guest appearance by none other than Pussy Riot.

Mikkelsen is one of a crop of Danish actors achieving international fame via the small screen, and according to researchers, there is good reason for their success.

Unique Danish drama style
A large part of their success lies in their unique acting style.

“Danish actors have a specific acting style that renders them exclusive and appealing in other countries,” Anne Marit Waade, an associate professor of media studies at Aarhus University, told DR.

“The Danish drama style is relatively subdued in comparison to other countries. The appeal lies in the passive way actors talk and act. It's very different to other countries."

Mikkelsen the poster boy
Jakob Isak Nielsen, a professor of media studies at Aarhus University, explains that Lars Mikkelsen's acting has been championed as an exemplary example of this subdued style. 

According to Nielsen, the team behind pan-European crime series 'The Team' would often use Mikkelsen as the guiding force during production. 

“[Director Katherine] Windfield would instruct other European actors by saying: ‘Look at Lars!’ His acting style became the standard for how others were to play their roles,” he explained.

Additional benefits
Nielsen also mentions the importance of the Danes' bilingual abilities.

“Danes are typically good at speaking English. They are not faced with language barriers and can therefore be included in a variety of roles,” he contended.

Danish success set to continue
Both researchers predict the success will continue, providing Danish television series like 'Borgen' and 'Forbrydelsen' ('The Killing') continue to be popular.

“As long as the Danish TV series continue to sell well abroad, Danish actors will also be used,” claimed Waade.

And there is no shortage of actors willing to work abroad. "Danish actors can quickly become overexposed in Denmark," explained Nielsen.

"This may explain their eagerness and acceptance in working outside the country."