Wall Street Journal - December 29, 2010
stars in the coming superhero movie ďThorĒ and is traveling to Los
Angeles next week to shoot the interiors for the English-language
adaptation of ďThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.Ē His newest
Swedish-language film is ďA Somewhat Gentle Man,Ē where he plays Ulrik,
a murderer recently released from prison. The film will open at the IFC
Center in New York on January 14.
You were born in Sweden, how is it for you acting in multiple
I only juggle two languages except I made one film in German. Itís easy
to do in Swedish because itís my native tongue, and Iíve been working in
English for many years. But I do have to work more because youíre not
born with language, but itís also fun work. Itís exciting and
challenging to try and create life in different language. If you notice
how I act in English, I kind of take it down a bit.
This is your third collaboration with Hans Petter Moland, the
director of ďA Somewhat Gentle Man.Ē Do you seek out directors to
Itís not that I look for directors, but some of the directors stick and
you realize that you compliment each other and Hans Petter is one of
them. I really enjoy working with him; we are constantly looking for
projects to do. Not including this movie, itís been 10 years since we
last worked together, but it felt like two years ago. He sent me the
script [to this film] and asked me if I was interested. I heard that
people had said it was a tragedy but I laughed when I read it. I thought
it was a comedy and I thought I should do it immediately. And we did.
You play Ulrik in this foreign film, a man who was just released from
prison. Do you consider it a
role thatís a little bit sad?
Itís a foreign film even in foreign countries. I donít think Iíve seen a
comedy like it before; itís extremely dark in some ways but still funny.
Of course you can always say that Scandinavians are experts at making
fun of darkness because they live in such darkness most of the year. I
was interested in doing a comedy, and I was interested in doing a comedy
that wasnít a normal comedy, that had some different qualities and this
one had it. With a great cast we have, the roles that are in the script
are very sketchy and sometimes almost over the top. They all become
human beings in a way, in their own special universe.
If you had to describe Ulrik, what are his sensibilities?
I think he is a gentle man and he doesnít want to
hurt anybody. He happens to have a job that means he kills people, but
not everybody likes their jobs. And I mean at least two of the women he
sleeps with in the film he obviously does it just to be nice to them. It
would be nice to say no to them but he does it because heís a good man.
I think heís a good man but his entire life has been in bad company.
How do you hope audiences will react?
I hope the respond by laughing and that they feel that it is refreshing,
that itís not funny always in the way that other films are funny.
You have seven children and nearly half are actors. Do you think itís
in your blood?
I donít know whatís in my blood and whatís in the environment. Itís very
hard to say, I think a lot of it has to do with how you grow up and how
open your family is and how flexible you are in terms of tolerance. But
there might be some gene. I didnít encourage them to become actors; I
have three that work professionally and very successful as actors. I
didnít encourage them but I didnít discourage them either. I didnít
interfere with their lives very much after they turned 16.
Your coming roles feature you in ďThorĒ and ďThe Girl with the Dragon
Tattoo.Ē How are those projects?
I did ďThorĒ in the spring. And then I did a film called ďMelancholia.Ē
And now Iím in the midst of shooting ďThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.Ē
We finished shooting in Sweden and weíre going to LA within a week to do
interiors. I have a couple of smaller films that are not financed yet
and a couple of bigger films that are financed but that I havenít chosen
How do you choose a character like Ulrik and then go to a massively
financed film like ďThor?Ē
I chose ďThorĒ because of Kenneth Branagh. The script was nice and we
got to rehearse and talk to the writers and do some collaborating in the
process to make it fit us. So I had a very happy time on it. What I
always try to do is immediately do something I just havenít done so I
get variation in my life. Iíve made about 90 films and if I did the same
thing over and over again I would be bored by now. I try to pick
different films. I go and do those big ones and having done that, I can
usually afford to go and do some really small obscure films and
experiment a little.
Any role you havenít played that you have in your head?
Iíve never had any dream roles. Iíve already done one ďHamletĒ but it
wasnít my dream role. It has to be a good director, good actors
and when and where and how they want to do it. Itís the project in
itself that becomes attractive and I donít have any dreams. Iím really
good at enjoying the present.