When Flickering Myth sat down with Mads Mikkelsen to talk about Doctor Strange, it was only the day after we had seen the film. And if our minds were still melted by the movie’s action sequences – which can best be described as soaking a Rubik’s Cube in ketamine – how in the Dark Lord’s name did the actors maintain their sense of place on a mostly green-screen backdrop? In other words, how do you know which skyscraper you’re running up the top of?
“[Scott] already had those thoughts,” Mikkelsen explained. “‘How am I going to explain this to people? If I’m going to stand here and gesture, it’s not going to work.’ So, smart enough, they made a little animated version of all the scenes so we could sneak peek and say, ‘oh, OK – upside down, there he is, that’s the corridor, thank you – let’s try it. Obviously we got it wrong a lot of times, but that was very helpful.”
“You can lose track of the geography because the world is being quite tricky around us. So we did often lose track, but we would go back and go, ‘ahhhh, OK, I get it – let’s reshoot that right’.”
“We saw the animation for every scene that we were doing. We didn’t see a full animated version of the film. But every stunt, every thing that was a chase between the streets or whatever, we saw a version of that. We could obviously anticipate that this would look a certain way, but I could not have hoped for what I saw on the big screen the other day. It was just absolutely mind-blowing.”
“You’re at the mercy of the CGI people. And the worst nightmare as an actor is that you can run around and you go ‘whoom whoom’, and they ran out of money and there’s a little rabbit jumping around in front of you. Luckily, there was no rabbit.”
SEE ALSO: Read our review of Doctor Strange
Mikkelsen and the other actors trained for “4-5 weeks” in a bootcamp to “pick up all the moves” and “learn how to fly” using wire work – all the stuff the CGI wouldn’t be covering.
“It was a fantastic part,” Mikkelsen recalled. He trained as a gymnast and a dancer before he found success as an actor with 1996’s Pusher. “Again, we don’t do a lot of that stuff back home. And when they put you on wires and the sky’s the limit, it is fantastic fun for us. Because it’s nothing we’re used to at all. But, as a kid, I was jumping around and doing things like that. It was coming late in my life but I’m so happy it arrived.”
Even with all that training and CGI, though, Mikkelsen still picked up an injury.
“They did a fantastic job of creating a little thing I could lean into and they padded it up as much as they could,” he recalled of his scene trapped in The Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. “Unfortunately, a couple of days before that, I had a little accident to my ribs. And I was leaning into that, so we had to remove some of the stuff so I wouldn’t injure the other ribs. It was tricky to get into and out of, because it took a while.”
“It was just me flying and landing in a stupid way. Sometimes it has to look as if you hurt yourself, and sometimes you do. When you repeat a stunt again and again you tend to hurt yourself in certain places. And then you tuck your elbow one way, and unfortunately I tucked my elbow under one of my ribs, and that was my mistake. I knew the second I did it. I’ve done it before. Not completely broken, but bad enough.”
Marvel’s Doctor Strange follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel cinematic universe.
Doctor Strange is set for release on October 25th in the UK and November 4th in the US, with Scott Derrickson (Sinister) directing a cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) as Stephen Strange, Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer) as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Baron Mordo, Benedict Wong (The Martian) as Wong, Rachel McAdams (True Detective) as Christine Palmer, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) as Kaecilius and Benjamin Bratt (The Infiltrator) in an as-yet-unrevealed role.