Mads Mikkelsen Learned English From This Cult-Classic Film

If you think Mads Mikkelsen is only capable of playing villains, think again. The talented actor is a great bad guy, but he’s also shown tremendous range in a litany of other roles. He’s earned critical acclaim for his lead performance in the Danish film Another Round. But while that film was set in his native language, Mikkelsen speaks English with ease in many of his movie and TV roles. The story of how he learned English is actually a funny one – it was from a comedy group that is known for being over-the-top ridiculous. 

Mads Mikkelsen is fluent in multiple languages

Mikkelsen is a star in multiple countries. To pull something like that off, you need to be able to speak in multiple accents and sometimes even languages.

While Mikkelsen is Danish, he’s become much more of an international star thanks to his work in Hollywood films. His first big break came in 2006’s Casino Royale as a Bond villain. Seemingly overnight, Mikkelsen went from being an unknown to the man everyone wanted to play their antagonist. Since then, he’s starred in other big-budget franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Doctor Strange) and Star Wars (Rogue One). 

To achieve this crossover appeal, Mikkelsen needed to speak English for his roles. Do you know that he’s actually fluent in multiple languages? In a 2014 interview with Ain’t It Cool News, he talked about the various languages he can speak: 

“Well, the thing is I don’t really speak French. I speak it to a certain degree, especially when I drink. I can pick it up, absolutely not fluently and not without an accent. But I picked that one up and I picked Russian up, and Swedish I speak, and German I speak, a little Spanish. But none of them as well as Danish and English.”

The legendary comedy troupe that unknowingly helped Mads Mikkelson learn English

Mads Mikkelsen attends the premiere of 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' at the Pantages Theatre on December 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Mads Mikkelsen | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Mikkelsen typically speaks with an accent in his films, which only adds to the sinister quality of the villains he typically portrays. But his English is impeccable. So how did a Danish actor become so proficient in another language? The answer may surprise you. 

According to an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mikkelsen reported he actually learned English from watching Monty Python. The famous British sketch comedy group had their own TV show as well as multiple movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Their classic comedy sketches and movies are known the world over for serving as the pinnacle of comedy. What they’re not known for is their commitment to grammar and syntax. That’s what makes Mikkelsen’s ability to learn English from them so hilarious and odd. 

Why it is ironic that Monty Python taught Mads Mikkelsen English


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Monty Python was one of the most legendary sketch comedy groups to ever perform. Their ability to embrace absurdity and produce consistently hilarious sketches put them in a class by themselves. Later sketch comedy produced by the likes of SNL, The Kids in the Hall, and others all owe the Pythons a debt of gratitude. 

To watch Monty Python is to take a master class in silliness. That’s why it’s so funny Mikkelson learned his English from them. They often spewed nonsense or spoke in funny, affected accents. That’s not the optimal condition to take in a new language. 

That said, they do have an extensive catalog, and they did produce some of the finest pieces of comedy ever committed to film. Mikkelsen could have done much worse if he’d chosen another comedy group or TV show to learn English from.