Cinema Scandinavia: We know you from the British series Fortitude. What was your experience working abroad and how does it differ from Scandinavian productions? 

Mia Jexen: I adore working in England with an international cast. The work process is almost similar; we tend to use more improvisation in Denmark both in preparation and also on set. There is not a tradition where you must say what it says on the paper. Of course, you can’t miss anything important for the plot, but the main focus is to make it sound as natural as possible. So, if it feels more natural for the actor to say the same line differently it’s fine and you won’t have to discuss it. But I think the crew and actors are more grateful in England. They don’t moan about anything and are generally very happy to work. They are so welcoming and loving, so it’s just a real pleasure.

CS: Can you tell us about your role in Fortitude and what it was like working alongside Sofie Gråbøl?

 MJ: I play Ingrid, who is a police constable who is always trying hard to do her very best at her job, but she doesn’t have that much experience. She is hilarious to play. She is sometimes too spontaneous and doesn’t always think things through or take the easiest route, but she is determined to solve the crime.

I absolutely love working with Sofie, not only is she a great actor but she is also a very loving and giving person. I feel so lucky to have had this experience with her.

CS: Next year we’ll see you in Three Things. What can you tell us about that role?

MJ: My part in Three Things was very challenging, though I only had a couple days on it. I haven’t seen anything yet so can’t tell you much about it, but I loved the script, the people and the experience.

CS: You’re also in Mens vi Lever – what can you tell us about that?

MJ: My best friend Sebastian Jensen plays the lead. I know he is amazing so I was excited to be offered the part. I have always wanted to play opposite him and I can’t wait to see him in this film when it comes out. The story is a tragic tale based on a true story that the brothers Mehdi Avaz (the director) and Milad Avaz (the writer and producer) experience in their home city. I absolutely loved working with those two brothers and they have an amazing energy. They dare to dream big and they make things happen despite not having a lot of experience. It’s a very refreshing feeling and I’m excited to see what they do in the future.

CS: When working with other actors, do you try to take anything away from working with them?

MJ: I always try to learn from others. I do that constantly. It’s very fascinating to study how differently each actor prepares and works through a role. I learn from both experience and non-experienced actors equally.

CS: How much of yourself is in each character you play?

 MJ: I always use myself a lot. I work a lot on my script and with my character in the preparation time. I will often use the twelve-step acting technique of Ivana Chubbuck or work with her privately. When I am on set, I let go of it all and do my best to be fully present.

CS: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing actors in Denmark? 

MJ: Denmark has a very small industry and there aren’t enough parts for all the great actors. I know it’s like that everywhere, but I think it’s worse in Denmark because there is a tendency to use the same eight actors. For an actor to have a manager or an agent is still a new concept in Denmark. My manager Lene Seested was actually the first agent in Denmark and the first person to work for Scandinavian actors and help them find work abroad. She worked hard for it for fifteen years and people thought it was an impossible dream. Many actors she worked for gave up and thought it would never happen. But suddenly it started happening and now her actors work as much abroad as in Scandinavia. With the popular crime series like The Killing it feels like the doors are opening. So, I’d say Scandinavian actors need to get an agent, practice their English and be good at self-taping. Above all they need to stay positive!

CS: In the future, are you hoping to be in more Danish films or do you want to continue to work abroad? 

MJ: I would love to do both. For me, it’s about the part and the script; it doesn’t matter where in the world it is. My biggest dream has always been to do a period drama and that dream has come true, now! I have just been cast in a new English period feature length drama on ITV. I couldn’t be happier!

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.