Throne in the deep end

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Movies - TIM MARTAIN A ROYAL AF­FAIR Now show­ing State Cin­ema

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.

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