Mads Mikkelsen Expresses Surprise When Reporter Inquires About Lack of Diversity in His 18th-Century European Drama

At the Venice Film Festival, a reporter questioned two filmmakers about the lack of diversity in their 18th-century Danish drama, “The Promised Land,” which explores the story of Ludvig Kahlen, an individual who relocated to Denmark for land cultivation.

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen and director Nikolaj Arcel were prompted to justify their casting decisions during this inquiry, as reported by The Daily Caller.

“Hello, I am from Denmark and it’s a pleasure to be here,” a reporter prefaced his questioning.

“So you’re a little bit into it, this is a cast and Danish production, which is entirely Nordic, it therefore has some lack of diversity you would say,” the reporter continued. “There’s also new rules implied in Hollywood–”

Mr. Mikkelsen interjected, asking, “What are you onto?”

Following a brief exchange, the reporter sought clarification, pondering whether the film’s limited diversity could potentially conflict with the new Oscar criteria for best film awards.

“As I see, you don’t live up to these standards with this broadcast and there is just a curiosity, it’s not because of artistic reasons, because of lack of diversity that this can’t compete in that competition,” he stated.

“Are you worried about that?” the reporter asked.

“Are you?” responded Mr. Mikkelsen. “You’re putting us on the spot so you answer the question.”

The reporter brought up the South Korean film “Parasite” as an example, highlighting its diverse cast and eligibility for competitions, drawing a contrast with the primarily Nordic cast of “The Promised Land.” While Mikkelsen appeared puzzled by the inquiry, Mr. Arcel intervened to clarify their casting choices.

“Well, first of all, the film takes place in Denmark in the 1750’s,” Arcel explained. “We do have a big plot line you know about a girl of color who is being subjected to racism and you know and which was very rare [to have] any people of color in Denmark.”

Arcel explained that during the late 1700s, the female character in their film was likely one of the very few Black women in Denmark, and thus, they did not consider altering historical accuracy to align with Hollywood’s diversity standards.

“[I]t’s just a historical [portrayal] of how it was in 1750,” Arcel said about their movie.