We knew he could do villainous. Who can forget the relish with which he 'ball-whipped' Daniel Craig torturously out of shape as Le Chiffre, the sorely misunderstood villain of Casino Royale, and helped reboot the entire franchise into its now more than healthy condition?
And we knew he could do romantic - we saw him in the lavish Royal Affair, the historical Danish epic telling the story of the nation's abandoned Queen Caroline Mathilde and her physician lover.
As the medic Johann Friedrich Struensee who had a passionate forbidden romance and helped start a revolution, Mikkelsen was dashing, determined, ultimately doomed... he had it all going on in this critically acclaimed tale.
But The Hunt is something else again. This contemporary tale shows what can happen when a small community seeks, misguidedly, to protect its own, particularly its children. At the centre of it all - Mikkelsen is Lucas, a man broken, half-repaired and then profoundly dismantled by a casual lie that tears his life apart.
There are signs that Lucas is already a man only halfway to recovery when we first meet him - the emotional, undisciplined chats with his ex-wife on the phone hint at all the problems which have gone before, as they battle to share their son. And Lucas is working at a nursery, after the closure of the school where he taught previously. This man has already been made humble.
He's popular with the children, hardworking and there's hope for new romance with the nursery cleaner. It's a small, simple but hopeful life being carefully reconstructed, until one child's passing comment, foolish but deadly, strips it all away.
If we were in any doubt of the value of such abstract concepts as name, honour and reputation, Mikkelsen's raw performance in The Hunt reveals what happens when a man is left without them. His silent but proud nobility in the face of this Kafka-esque experience is inspiring, moving and, frankly, astonishing, coming from the same man who gave Mr Bond a good seeing-to.
When I interviewed his co-star, Charlotte Fich, of Denmark's acclaimed drama, Unit One, she explained that it was Mikkelsen who pushed them all forward - "this has to be as good as it can possibly be, he told us. He kept raising the bar."
And with The Hunt, he's pushed himself to ever further heights.
The Hunt is available on DVD now from Arrow Films. Watch the trailer below...
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