By Jerome Maida
"I didn't need to see a script, because it was Star Wars," he told the Philly.com Geek Blog in an exclusive interview. "I would probably be killed by my kids if I turned it down. But I was very happy [for the opportunity], to be honest."
The film's publicity push comes at a hectic time for Mikkelsen, who is in the enviable spot of having a major role in two blockbusters with big fan bases. He also plays the villain Kaecilius in Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange, which opened last month.
"It's been a roller coaster," Mikkelsen said, laughing. "There are people who love films that stand alone, and they will have some fans, but not huge fan bases like the Marvel fan base or the Star Wars fan base.
"The aftermath is when you feel it," he said. "While you're filming, you don't really feel consumed or are even aware of it, really. But then, when you go out in public ... you see people dressed as your character, and they have expectations and a lot of love for the product."
In Doctor Strange, the actor plays a villain who doesn't perceive himself as one. His Rogue One character, Galen Erso, is the father of the main character, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. He seems like a decent man, but he's helping to build the Death Star, a weapon with the potential to kill billions of people.
"Well, Kaecilius is a man who feels he's seen the light. Why run around and be mortal and suffer when you can have immortality and no pain? I actually feel he's on to something," Mikkelsen said. "Obviously, his method of getting there is questionable, but he doesn't quite know that."
Galen Erso is a scientist, he said, "and scientists sometimes have the ability to dive into a project with tunnel vision. [He] can only see the beauty of what this can be used for and that what he's working on can be used to solve the world's problems." He doesn't see the destructive potential of it.
Mikkelsen compared Erso to J. Robert Oppenheimer, considered the father of the atomic bomb. "Later on in life, he had moral issues with what he was doing, as well, and I think this is similar to the classical balance situation for my character. Of course, [Jyn] has a key role in this, as well."
Mikkelsen has nothing but praise for Jones' performance as Jyn.
"She's a wonderful and spectacular actress," Mikkelsen said. "She has an ability to be extremely powerful and fragile at the same time, which is needed for this character. She's open as an actress, always listening. ... It's a combination any actress dreams of having, but she does it very naturally."