My 2016: Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson

Cinema Scandinavia: Trapped has become such a popular series. Did you get a sense of how big it would be?

Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson: There was so much of an interest from BBC4 and France and Germany probably because of the director, Baltasar Kormakur. He has been getting quite big here and internationally. I wasn’t surprised it became popular, also because there was a lot of money put into it. I mean, if you to compare to other Iceland television series it was quite big.

CS: What do you think it was about the series that gave it this amount of success?

IES: Well, it’s difficult to say. There were actually a lot of Icelandic people who didn’t like it. After the first two episodes aired, there was a lot of negativity. Partly because it’s cold and like Iceland. It’s nothing exotic for us. But it’s really exotic for other people around the world.

CS: You’ve worked with Baltasar a lot, most recently The Oath

IES: Baltasar and I are classmates from drama school so we know each other so well. He needed someone to play his colleague in the film, and he thought I would be the person cast for that. I said that it was no role for me, it wasn’t challenging enough. But he asked if I could do it for him, just as a friend! So that’s the reason I did it. It’s a small role, but I play his colleague there.

CS: Do you have a preference when it comes to a particular role?

 IES: If I see something challenging, something to explore, something that I can learn off, and if there’s an interesting cast and director then it’s something I want to do. The script tells a lot about the project. There are a lot of things that matter when you combine them together. It’s all about ‘is there something I can learn from this character?’ that’s what matters to me.

I can’t say I have a special type of role, but I have some rules to follow. I’m just trying to be aware all the time. I want to be aware of my fellow actors, where the camera is, and what type of space I’m in. Also, playing with several spaces; me and the actor, my own space, playing in the space I’m acting in. These things all matter.

When working with Baltasar, for example, we have a certain trust and I know I’m able to talk to him about anything. That’s much easier than when I work with directors I don’t know. Also, I don’t want to just play with people I know. It’s challenging going to other parts of the world and working there.

CS: You’ve appeared in a number of major Icelandic films. What is your opinion on the industry?

IES: It’s growing so fast! You’re seeing a lot of new people in the film crews and also new actors. It’s still a very small community, though. The people who are graduating from the theatre school are usually the ones we follow. It’s very much like a small family compared to the rest of the world.

CS: What is it about Icelandic film that makes it resonate with audiences?

IES: I find it interesting to see films from the rest of the world, especially films that are from countries that I don’t know so much about. It’s like looking into a window. Then comes the next film and it’s totally different from the other. It’s exotic in a totally different playground.

I think it’s similar with Icelandic film. Icelandic film proves that because we are small we know each other so well so sometimes we don’t have to say anything. We don’t have to have many meetings about problems. It’s difficult for me to explain because I’m Icelandic and it’s all so similar to me.

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.