Cinema Scandinavia: This year we saw you in Flowers of Evil. Can you tell us about your character?
Tommi Korpela: Well, to be honest, my part in this movie is quite small. I played a police officer who grilled one of the main characters, Juno, about a robbery. We shot the scenes in a day and I just brought my middle-aged face to the set. I’ve worked with the director, Antti Jokinen, twice before and was happy to do these scenes too. The beauty and the uniqueness of this movie is all about a team of ‘first timers’, with the exception of a few actors. The young, non-professinal actors are doing a brilliant job in this movie.
CS: The film says it reflects on certain parts of Helsinki. Do you see this, too?
TK: Flowers of Evil is a social commentary on the problems of suburban life in Helsinki. I spent parts of my childhood in brand new suburban neighbourhoods of Helsinki in the 1970’s and the times have changed a lot for sure. Unemployment, drugs and social exclusion are reality. My 19-year-old-son said it’s the best Finnish movie he’s seen in a long time, so that’s a convincing statement to me.
CS: You also had a role in Deadweight. Can you tell us about that experience?
TK: Deadweight was like heaven and hell for me. Such an experiment! We shot the movie in a huge containership going from the US to Europe and all the way back to the US. It took 8 weeks and during that whole time we were stuck in that “monster” of a ship, crossing the Atlantic Ocean twice. The ship was on its regular route with real seamen onboard and we shot our scenes whenever it was possible without disturbing their hard work. Basically, it meant that our schedules were constantly changing and our set was rolling and vibrating 24 hours a day. The director, Axel Koenzen, used the real seamen as actors and we improvised scenes with them. I’m really proud of the result. It’s an realistic description of an ordinary seaman’s life nowadays. I miss those guys a lot.
CS: You are also in the Finnish kids film Kanelia kainaloon, Tatu ja patu! – this film is probably lesser known in the UK than the others. What can you tell us about this film and just how big is it in Finland?
TK: Tatu and Patu is based on a Finnish children’s book. Actually it’s a series of books that is highly popular in Finland. The movie is doing great, more than 200.000 viewers already and it got nice reviews as well.
CS: Kynsin hampain is a Finnish television series – can you explain your role in it and what the series is about?
TK: Kynsin ja hampain is kind of a comic version of the Danish series Borgen. It’s a political satire and my character was a chauvinistic and corrupted prime minister who gets replaced by a young female politician. Chauvinist and lying bastard, reminds me of somebody from the US… Perfect material for an actor, I had fun doing that role.
CS: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing Finnish actors today?
TK: I guess it’s mostly the same here as everywhere else, to find interesting scripts and visibility as an actor. Finland is a small country with only five million speaking our language, so it’s extremely challenging for our movies to succeed internationally. But I’m confident that things can change, good things are constantly happening for Finnish film makers… We’re just 20 years behind, as in football and good manners too.
CS: Where can we see you next year?
TK: AJ Annila’s movie Eternal Road will be opening in autumn 2017. It’s based on a Finnish novel written by Antti Tuuri. We shot the movie in Estonia last summer and still going to have some winter shoots in January. It’s an excellent and powerful script so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve also been busy shooting this very low budget film called Vacuum, with director Aleksi Salmenperä. I hope it will premiere soon as well. It’s going be black and white and something else!