Mads Mikkelsen offers us in “Drunk”, a remarkable composition of a history teacher in a high school, erased, and extinct, who will engage in a dangerous experiment with alcohol to regain enthusiasm at work.
Based on an overtly provocative theory, the director Thomas Vinterberg questions both the fascination that alcohol has in popular culture and the devastation caused by its excesses. The film is crossed by an incredible vitality, which resembles the energy of despair, as the filmmaker lost his youngest daughter in a car accident a few days before the start of filming. “Drunk”, much more than a thesis demonstrative film, has become a sort of survival cry. It is arguably one of his strongest and most disturbing films.
First question, what was your reaction when you discovered this theory about the lack of alcohol in our blood when we start our life?
Mads Mikkelsen : well, why had nobody ever talked about it before? In fact, we can all recognize it, we are not talking about being drunk, but being in a “zone”: you play darts after drinking 2 beers, and everything is perfect! But after 7 beers, you don’t even touch the board anymore… and after more beers, you don’t even want to play! So there is something Magic About these “2 beers” that will heat up the conversation, free the conversation with other people, there is something that everyone can remember with pleasure.
How can you describe your character? Is he depressed, shy, and so sad at the start of the story? What do you think his past is?
No, I think he’s a bit like a lot of us, he has a job he always wanted to do, and he’s very good at it, he has a wonderful wife and children. But suddenly he feels like all his dreams have taken the train and left it, and he watches them leave while staying on the platform. And he didn’t realize it until he took that drink with his friends, and he’s got this awareness that he has never done anything in his life! and why didn’t he do it?
For an actor, it’s always a challenge to play drunkenness, you have to find the right balance and not overplay this state. How did you find him?
Normally, we say that an actor to play drunkenness must not seem to be drunk, and to try very hard to do not overdo it. It means that the movements have to be a little steeper, a little slower, and we realize that something is wrong. But in our case, we had to go to the next level, the “Charlie Chaplin” level, the insanity level! And we watched a lot of videos, especially russian videos, with extremely drunk people and we saw how crazy it was! and we looked at each other, and we thought: ok, we can do it!
The script is really interesting, because it starts off almost as a justification for alcohol, and it almost becomes a moralizing story…
I don’t think there is a moral in this story, I think we try as much as we can not to be judgmental, and we also try not to praise alcohol. In fact, we are trying to find out what the truth is in this 0.5 gr / liter of alcohol, why we are so fascinated by this, why for thousands of years all cultures have been doing the same thing … and we know that there is a dark side, very dark in alcohol, as there is a beautiful side as well. So, I think with our characters, we tested both sides of the question. The only moral of this story is that you have to enjoy the good times, and enjoy life.
It’s no secret, Thomas Vinterberg lost his daughter just before the shoot, and originally she had a role in this movie… How did he manage to make this movie? Was it a form of therapy for him?
No, I don’t think it was therapy for him, I think it was a mission. It was a total disaster for him, nothing mattered to him anymore. But that story was based a lot on her, her school, the stories she told her father, she played a part in it. So he wanted to go on and tweak the movie a bit while we were shooting it. I think it has now become more of a tribute to life than it was in the script. And we haven’t talked much about it, but it got like that. She appeared as a beautiful energy in all the scenes, it became an apology for life rather than a theory about alcoholism.
Last question, on a personal level, with this drama, did you feel more responsibility for this film? To support him, in a team effort?
In a way, the movie wasn’t that important anymore. It was something more important than the movie. The price was harder to pay under these circumstances, but the goal was for her to be proud of the result, I think.