Mads Mikkelsen Calls Method Acting “Pretentious” “Bullshit”

"Preparation, you can take into insanity," he says

mads mikkelsen method acting pretentious bullshit interview gq daniel day-lewis lady gaga jared leto
Mads Mikkelsen, photo by Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

    Mads Mikkelsen is not a fan of Method acting, saying “it’s bullshit” when actors refuse to come out of character.

    “What if it’s a shit film?” he wondered in a new interview with GQ. “What do you think you achieved? Am I impressed that you didn’t drop character? You should have dropped it from the beginning! How do you prepare for a serial killer? You gonna spend two years checking it out?”

    The thing we now commonly call Method acting is just one technique from The Method, which has its roots in a theatrical approach devised by the great Russian director Konstantin Stanislavski for Anton Chekhov’s plays in the 1890s. It was adapted by the American acting teachers Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner in the 1930s, and went on to influence thespians including Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe.


    Initially, The Method referred to a wide range of rehearsal and performance techniques, many of which involved using one’s personal memories to tap into a character’s emotions. Today, however, when actors and the media talk about Method acting, they are almost exclusively referring to people who stay in character all the time.

    Mikkelsen has nothing but scorn for this approach, even for performances he respects such as Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. “I would have the time of my life, just breaking down the character constantly. ‘I’m having a cigarette? This is from 2020, it’s not from 1870 – can you live with it?’ It’s just pretentious,” he added. “Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor. But it’s got nothing to do with this.”

    Mikkelsen himself is fastidious in his preparations, having taken horseback riding lessons for King Arthur in 2004, and learning French for Age of Uprising in 2013. “But preparation, you can take into insanity,” he said.


    The 56-year-old Dane believes actors are responding to misplaced praise from the media. “The media goes, ‘Oh my god, he took it so seriously, therefore he must be fantastic; let’s give him an award.’ Then that’s the talk, and everybody knows about it, and it becomes a thing.”

    Mikkelsen currently stars in the new film from J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. He declined to talk about Johnny Depp, whom he replaced, and as for Rowling, he didn’t have much more to say besides, “No hateful rhetoric towards either women or trans [people] – that’s a good start. But we have to be honest – and it seems to me, when you turn science into ideology, and politics into science, then you’re not talking from an honest place. And I think that’s muddying the waters regarding what side you’re on, and rarely leads to anywhere good.”

    He also railed against cancel culture, and when it came to specific things that Rowling has done — such as her 3,600-word essay in which she argued that the if trans women are treated like women, “the lived reality of women globally is erased,” or her recent insinuations that reducing governmental red tape for trans people would somehow lead to an increase in sexual assaults — Mikkelsen said he was unfamiliar with the specifics. “I have a habit of not commenting on things that I don’t know anything about,” he said. “I actually think that that would suit the entire world.”


    Up next for Mikkelsen is Indiana Jones 5. It’s unclear what role he played, but considering how often the film was delayed, he no doubt enjoyed spending his off-time as himself.

    Method acting has often been in the news over the past year. Lady Gaga claimed she never broke character while filming House of Gucci, while Jared Leto kept the crew waiting for long stretches because he insisted on using crutches to take his bathroom breaks on Morbius.

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