We are days away from this years Oscars and one Nordic film nominated for both Best Foreign Picture and Best Director (Thomas Vinterberg) is the wonderful Another Round.
We had a video call with Magnus Millang, who plays Nikolaj, about filming the movie, as well as other popular Danish films and TV shows that he’s been involved with.
When Magnus appears on the call, he is wearing black with a framed Batman movie poster in the background (the original 1989 version), he could almost be Bruce Wayne right now.
Our opening lines are the usual small talk about the c-word, ‘How long you been in lockdown for?’, ‘How is it over there?’
It’s terrible! He exclaims.
Magnus couldn’t be more right – but we have to look at the positives and one of those came back in October when the London International Film Festival gave people the option to have a digital screening of the movies they were hosting. One of those movies happened to be Another Round and so we jumped at the opportunity to watch Thomas Vinterberg’s follow-up to his excellent movie The Hunt.
We’ve chosen a perfect week to speak to Magnus about the movie – it has just received two Oscar nods, the week before it was the BAFTAs (where it went on to win Best International Picture), and we also got the fantastic news that they are finally releasing the movie here in the UK. It won’t be until June which means a patient wait for us all but at least we know it coming one way or another and we are beginning to handle the whole patience thing relatively well now.
Making the movie
The Danish are notorious for delivering some truly fantastic movies and their presence at the Academy Awards is one that is pretty common – it made me wonder whether, whilst filming the movie, if Magnus felt that this was going to be such a huge hit?
When I first read the script I was really excited and I said to Thomas: “Now comes the easy part, we just have to film it!“
We had the story to lean up against, and I think that is really important but during filming and reading the script I have a tendency to always think – ‘This is going to be great’ – I had set my expectation high and I feel you need to do that.
But there is still a part of every artist that is also very insecure so when I saw the film, it wasn’t an early edit but nor a final draft, and I was beginning to think that this was going to be a really good product. I was really emotionally touched by the film.
The story was all there, in my opinion, and it was so nice reading through it all. Then we had this tragic incident that happened.
A tragic incident
Another Round was due to have Director Thomas’ daughter feature in it as her debut performance, playing Mads Mikkelsen’s teenage daughter in the movie. She had been out in Africa and had given her seal of approval to her talented father – even the concept of including her college and friends too.
In May, production had started on the movie when Thomas received the heart breaking news that his daughter had died in a car accident in France. She was only 19 years old.
Awards recognition, and what the audience need – but don’t forget the stars.
You always hope that the audience and the world will feel the same way which is really fantastic.
As a self-confessed film fanatic it is very rare that I do such things as clap after a film or cheer – but when the credits rolled for Another Round, I clapped, I cried, and I cheered. The ending was one of my favourites in history. I can’t wait to experience it all over again when I see it in the cinema in June and hopefully we’ll have more reasons to clap and cheer by then too!
I don’t want to enter fanboy territory, it is a slippery slope, so I had looked into some of the statistics on the movie and how it has performed so far. 32 nominations across the board of 19 awards/film festivals, 15 wins already and half the awards ceremonies haven’t even happened yet!
It is really amazing but it is also very difficult when you are not able to participate in the festivals and be present there. Of course, you couldn’t wish for a better reception over the movie and it is very rare that a film you are in goes so well – so that is fantastic.
I don’t know – maybe it is because of the situation in the world that people needed this story and the good things in life. They needed the hope, so, maybe that is why.
I think it gave a little more to it, we have had politics which have been quite interesting abroad the last four years , then we had the pandemic. Maybe people need to feel hope and look at life in a different perspective.
But a little part of me is little sad.. all I do is read about it or hear it on the news, and it reminds me that I am not going to be sitting on that round table at Golden Globes or Oscars. I am still at home.
Magnus raises a very touching point here – whilst many fans of the movie will rejoice in it’s recognition it must be a bitter pill to swallow for all those involved in the movie not getting the opportunity to be at the awards, together, and celebrate the moment (whether they won the awards or not).
Where the likes of Mads and Thomas have likely walked the awards red carpet a number of times – relatively new faces such as Magnus have had that career opportunity stolen away from them because of the virus.
We can only be so pleased that the movie has got such a nice reception.
The ‘acting drunk’ masterclass!
Variety had put up an interesting conversation between Daniel Craig and Mads Mikkelsen where Mads begins to discuss making the movie and the challenges of trying to act drunk. He mentioned an alcohol boot camp which the cast had to do and I was interested to learn more about this.
We did a lot of tests for all the lines and rehearsals, like you always do, but acting drunk is really…. well when it is such a big theme of the film and acting different levels.
When you are really drunk it almost looks like a sketch and for an actor that is something you don’t really want to do in a Thomas Vinterberg film. So there was definitely some part of us acting really drunk and not being afraid to be like Chaplin for example.
The most important lesson in playing that drunk is to not be afraid of being really horrible. Letting yourself go and say drunk people are really funny looking, it is a sketch. That was for me the major thing I took with me in filming the movie.
It is most certainly convincing that is for sure!
We didn’t drink and shoot so coming home from a night out and then struggling to get up the stairs that is how it is when you are really drunk. So the boot camp was really important and we also had elbow protectors because when you are sober and fall your reptile brain won’t protect you but when you are drunk it doesn’t notice.
So we had to put protectors on; that was very important as well. We had also looked up a lot of videos on Youtube, actually there is a lot of films with Russian people being really drunk. I remember one where two guys were trying to do a project of putting timber on a bike, it took forever.
It reminds me of a particular classic scene in the movie where the friends all go out and get absolutely smashed with Magnus’ character Nikolaj having to crawl up the stairs, waking up the next morning looking rather worse for wear.
Also trying different types of make-up because when you are not drunk your eyes will reveal that they are so white and clear, and focused. They give it all away. So we had to put all sorts of stuff to make them look red!
Before every take I had to turn around 20 times and then walk up the stairs – because then I was dizzy and couldn’t be on my legs!
In the lead up to the scene discussed earlier – there is a brilliant moment where the gang start to indulge on a sweet looking cocktail and I have always been curious as to what the cocktail was based on.
Sazerac – and I thin the idea came from the script writer Thomas Lindholm. Sazerac is originally from New Orleans, I think it was made for the musicians with the purpose of the drink to look thin and very innocent but it really wasn’t.
It is basically absinthe and brandy with some sugar BUT in the film it is just juice – apple juice and elderflower. There was a lot of sugar that day.
So we get to finally know what the cocktail was based on and what it truly was for the scene!
The way Mads reacts on it is pretty much the way you would on the real drink. It is strong but nice – it is basically a huge shot!
Another Round is Magnus’ second movie with Thomas Vinterberg, his first being 2016’s The Commune. He had a similar ensemble cast put together and where we see two of the famous gang from Another Round meet with Lars Ranthe featuring in the movie.
It had some similarities with the ensemble feeling and back then, because it was a commune, the rehearsal was to make us live together. We had a weekend living together, bathing together, and stuff like that.
Then, when we were filming it, we all lived together and that gave a lot – it was also the first time I met Lars Ranthe who is also in Another Round. We all became friends back then and it was a really really nice experience working with Thomas, getting to see how he works and how he mixes the dramatic with comic relief.
There is something about that that talks to everybody because that is what life is and it is not only just a tragic story but it shows both sides of life. That was really interesting to be a part of.
And what about Borgen?
I am aware that there is not a lot I can usually be told if something is being protected under Netflix’s armoured veil – I ask in the hope of getting something based on the news we had read that Magnus would be involved in the much anticipated fourth season of the series.
Yes, I am in Borgen, am playing alongside Sidse Babett, and it is really really cool. The team are really nice and it is going really well!
I think that is all I am going to get but it is enough to get excited about but then…
I can say, that my character’s name is Rasmus.
A small titbit but certainly something – we are very excited to see what Magnus will bring to the series and think he will be absolutely brilliant.
What is next for Magnus?
With Borgen almost completed for filming we turn out attention to what is up next for Magnus – we know how challenging the times have been for the entertainment industry and it is always interesting to hear what the actors have done to overcome the obstacles. Whether that is treading the boards and taking to the theatre or locking themselves away and writing.
I have had some time to write a lot – currently I am developing a TV series for a Danish channel TV2 which is about being in a family with small children and that time in life where you have career, children, exercise, and you just can’t put more on the load of existing. It’s working title is ‘The Best Time’ and I am really hoping for that to be greenlighted.
I have another feature film arriving with my brother which is a tragic comedy about loneliness and being alienated as grown-up men who haven’t fulfilled their life with family and stuff. They spend their time looking for life in outer space instead.
This is a second feature that Magnus has done with his brother – the first being Selvhunter (the English working title is Heavy Load) which he wrote with his brother, directed, and starred in! The trailer for the movies is below and I have to say this looks absolutely brilliant and clearly the pair enjoy working together.
I think people are working on it in the trail of Another Round, it was definitely made for the local market but its again a tragic comedy. Two brothers losing their father to alcoholism and they haven’t seen each other for a long time – they have to head to Spain to get his body. That is why it is called Heavy Load.
Fingers crossed we get a UK release!
I was also inspired by The Trip and doing something with my brother where we travel around Europe eating cheese! We want it to be a traveling and eating program called Brother Cheese. We are working on the second season of that now which is really needed in these times – especially when going into the airport is such a lottery.
We were sent home filming the first season so we had to cancel in the middle of the shoot last year and then we had to do two programmes in program. Hopefully we can go in June but I don’t know if we need a vaccine or negative test – it is just crazy times!
Exciting times are certainly ahead for Magnus and we can’t wait to see his future projects and wish him every success with them!
Interview by Alex Minnis