Mads Mikkelsen. Sexiest man alive according to the people of Denmark. Celebrated actor, with roles from James Bond to a Rihanna music video. Luckily I didn’t have time to confess that I haven’t seen a single thing he has done besides his fantastic performance as Galen Erso, designer of the Death Stars superlaser weapon system. I met Mads at Birmingham Film & Comic Con and he kindly agreed to pause for a minute, and answer three questions. So much for my carefully planned out interview.
The story of Rogue One is really a story about two men and their lifelong friendship which is corrupted by the Death Star project. All of the other characters are reacting to this unfolding situation, and ultimately the Death Star is the death of both of them. Figuratively for Galen and literally in the case of Director Orson Krennic when he is shot with Erso’s super weapon. Perhaps a measure of revenge?
I was curious to hear from the man himself, is Galen the assassin of Alderaan, or provider of the only hope for the galaxy. Mads, in your opinion is Galen Erso a hero or villain? Mads immediately replied “He’s a hero.” He didn’t even hesitate, clearly he’s thought about this question before and arrived at a definite answer. But why I asked him, do you feel that way? “Well, he’s a hero because he started out on a project that has the potential to make the world a much better place. When he realises that his, like all good inventions can be used for the exact opposite he turns around and he hauls ass out of there.” Galen then is a hero for doing his best to try and forestall the weapon, and to help to destroy it in the only way available to him.
Galen Erso has an interesting back story with Krennic told in the James Luceno novel Catalyst. By the time they meet again at the beginning of Rogue One their friendship has already failed. The novel serves as a prologue to Rogue One as much as a story in it’s own right. Catalyst does an excellent job of showing how two friends can become enemies, and what they are then willing to do to achieve their disparate goals. I asked Mads if he spent any time working out the details with Ben Mendelsohn about how to play that failed friendship. “We talked about it yes, and obviously they are both men of the empire, and they grew up in that. The empire is portrayed as this menacing thing and the rebels are the exact opposite of that. But it didn’t start out like that, we started out with good intentions, I kept them, and he didn’t.”
Regarding the reshoots which changed the outcome of the movie. There is a scene on Coruscant (a flashback when Krennic and Erso were still friends) and Galen puts young Jyn to bed. The scene in question takes place in Catalyst before Galen decides to flee and features their servant droid and some good character work for all involved. Was there any more to that scene that was lost in the reshoots? Mads confirmed, “I didn’t do any reshoots, I wasn’t part of that. But honestly you have more scenes and longer scenes and you have to squeeze it down to two hours to make a film, and you have to get rid of some of these things.” Sadly we may never see the original footage and find out why Krennic walked through the water, or which rebels made it to the other end of the beach alive.
Would you be interested in coming back to the role if they had something else for Galen to do? Mads responded enthusiastically, “Absolutely! Right now he seems pretty dead to me, but you never know.” They can de age, and show more flashbacks I suggested. “Yah, they can do anything in that universe.” I know what you’re thinking, that was four questions…but I couldn’t help pushing my luck a little. If you also want a little bit more from Mads, you can catch one of his upcoming movies. I have a film coming out called Arctic, a survival adventure film, and also At Eternitys Gate, concerning the life of Vincent Van Gogh. Mads has also contributed his likeness and voice talent to the beautiful and strange new Playstation exclusive video game from Hideo Kojima, Death Stranding.