Throne in the deep end
NEWCOMER Mikkel Boe Folsgaard had not even finished theatre school when he landed his first feature film role.
The 28- year- old Danish actor portrays 18th century King Christian VII in the new film A Royal Affair.
Playing any kind of historical figure carries a certain responsibility with it, but when the character is commonly remembered as ‘‘ the mad king’’ then things get a little more delicate.
But Folsgaard said it was vital never to judge the character you were playing.
‘‘ I dove in. I went to the library, read a lot of books about him and I got a much more broad view about him – some said he was schizophrenic, some said he was not ill at all, he was just pretending to be,’’ Folsgaard said.
‘‘ So there are a lot of different views about his condition and I talked to the director and we agreed that we shouldn’t put a label about his condition, the focus should be on just trying to understand the situation he was in, being trapped in a castle as this young guy who didn’t want to be king.’’
A Royal Affair is the story of Christian, his wife Caroline ( Alicia Vikander), and the king’s doctor, Johann Struensee ( Mads Mikkelsen). Largely ignored by her husband, Caroline falls for the charismatic doctor and they begin a secret affair.
Folsgaard knew it was important to keep Christian human, not just a caricature, and to portray him with real depth.
‘‘ When I finished one book about Christian, I was very touched and moved by his situation, I felt a lot of sympathy for him and tried to include that in my work,’’ he said.
‘‘ I wanted to include some of the things I had read, physical stuff like his distinctive laugh – the way I laugh in the movie was based on records of his real laugh, how it was described.
‘‘ I feel he was a very insecure guy who used these things to shield himself because he had such a hard life – he was beaten all through his childhood, his mother died giving birth, his father was a drunk.
‘‘ And then this doctor came along and started to talk to him in a different way to the way everyone else did, he actually listened to Christian, tried to understand him.’’
Folsgaard said he learnt a lot making the film that no theatre school could teach. While he considers himself lucky to have landed the role, he has gone back to his studies.
‘‘ I actually had to apply to the school four times before being accepted so I’m really focused on finishing,’’ he said.