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My 2016: Pål Sverre Hagen

Cinema Scandinavia: This year we saw you play the villain in A Conspiracy of Faith, but as with most Danish drama, your character has a very complex history. How did you wish to portray him?

Pål Sverre Hagen: He is obviously a very broken and destroyed human being, but he is also a product of his past. We wanted to tell a story about a man who made his choices and is at peace with being an extremist in the worst way imaginable. He is a believer, in his own way, and exploring the potentially destructive force of any belief system was very fascinating to me, and sadly relevant in the world we live in.

CS: What was it like working as part of the series, especially considering how popular the Department Q films are?

 PSH: It was a great experience: wonderful cast and director, and all in the safe hands of Zentropa. Walking down the streets of Copenhagen in the days following the premiere certainly made me understand just how many people sent to see this film on the opening weekend.

CS: We also saw you in The Last King, which is a historical film. Did you do a lot of research into this story beforehand?

PSH: A part of this shoot was done in a studio in Budapest, and we had to recreate the dark Norwegian winter in the middle of the nice, warm Hungarian summer. Things like that always remind me how strange my job really is: working in snowy castles which are supposed to be in the far north, and then taking a lunch break outside in the green grass and baking sun.

CS: Considering these two films are completely different, do you have a preference or style when it comes to acting?

PSH: A hope for my future career is to be able to keep changing. This is what the core of acting is. But to me, openness to different genres and roles is a very important part of what’s keeping me alive as an artist. I don’t want to limit myself to anything.

CS: What do you believe are the biggest advantages and challenges facing the Norwegian film industry? 

PSH: I believe Norwegian film has come a long way from where we were a few years back. Being a small country, we rely heavily on government support. This means that the Norwegian people need to be wise about our votes and keep up the good work that has already started. Our nature is second to none, and we are so privileged to be able to make the use of the light and the landscapes to tell our stories.

CS: What are you currently working on and where can we see you next year?

PSH: I just finished shooting the American film Halo of Stars with colleagues Lily Collins and Holiday Grainger. The next television series for me is Valkyrien. The national release is set for the 1st of January, and I’m very interested to see how the audience receives this unique project. In 2017, What Happened to Monday? Should also be ready for its release. It’s directed by the Norwegian Tommy Wirkola and has gathered a great cast in this sci-fi thriller with Noomi Rapace in the leading role.

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.