Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander Tackle Doomed Royal Pic (Cannes)

Danish director Nikolaj Arcel's period drama about an 18th century Danish Queen and her German lover ends in public dismemberment for its protagonists.

CANNES -- Cannes got a taste of Scandinavian cinema royalty Saturday as Mads Mikkelsen and rising star Alicia Vikander jetted in to promote the period drama A Royal Affair from Danish director Nikolaj Arcel.

Arcel, the director of Island of Lost Souls and a screenwriter on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is tackling his most ambitious project yet with Affair, the real-life story of doomed love affair between the Queen of Denmark (Vikander) and her German physician (Mikkelsen) in the 18th century.

“It’s really one of the crown jewels of Danish history, I’m surprised it hasn’t been dramatized before,” Mikkelsen said. “But while we’re wearing the old clothes and such, we are trying not to be too respectful of the past. Which is good for me physically, because the real doctor weighed something like 400 pounds.”

Arcel said despite having “a very anal production designer” to insure historical accuracy, Royal Affair is a more rock and roll version of the historical drama” and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the lovers gruesome end.

“It’s a matter of record what they did to them,” Mikkelsen said “They were brutally killed. They chopped off the arms, the legs and the head. And in my [character’s] case, they chopped off his penis and fed it to the dogs.”

It perhaps didn’t hurt that Antichrist director Lars von Trier is is an executive producer on the film and helped Arcel develop the script.

Producers Zentropa Entertainments have lined up a who’s who of Danish on-screen talent for the $8.5 million feature. Playing alongside Mikkelsen and Vikander are In A Better World actor Trine Dyrholm and David Dencik, who appears in Stephen Spielberg’s upcoming War Horse and in David Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake. Vikander will segue from Royal Affair to Warner Bros. The Seventh Son alongside Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore.

Nordisk Film will bow Royal Affair in Denmark. TrustNordisk is handling international sales.