Actor Profile: Søren Malling

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Born in Denmark and raised in the town of Kjellerup, Søren Dyreberg Malling has become a widely recognised fixture in both Nordic cinema and television, known for his portrayals of conflicted men in difficult situations. Applying to Odense Teater in 1988 and starring in a range of theatre productions, it wasn’t until Malling finished his education in the early nineties that he rose to prominence in major projects, something he continues to do to this day.

Perhaps his first, most notable role was that of Karsten Kørelærer in Søren Fauli’s offbeat comedy Polle Fiction (2002), though this wasn’t before racking up small roles in a variety of shows on Danish television, specifically Taxa, Unit 1 and the short-lived Forsyar, a court drama about a Copenhagen law office and its various attorneys.

Malling continued to appear on TV screens throughout the 2000s, taking a starring role in all six episodes of Teatret ved Ringvejen in 2006, a comedy revolving around the financial struggles of a small children’s theatre, which formed an unlikely segue way into the series that would go on to bring him wide acclaim in 2007. Starring in all nineteen episodes of its twisty first season of The Killing, the international hitprovided Malling with a real launching pad to success. His widely celebrated role as Detective Inspector Jan Meyer, the reasonable but frustrated counterpart to Sarah Lund, brought him praise and mass exposure.

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Roles continued to flood in from then on as Malling continued to build a presence on screen, from starring in a string of films in his native Denmark to bit parts in more prestigious series such as crime drama The Left Wing Gang (2009-10), which also featured fellow Dane and recent Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Next up came the role that we best know Malling for, Torben Friis in Borgen. Friss is the TV1 News-editor-in-chief who reports on the rise of Birgitte Nyborg in the Danish parliament. Seeking to please his executives and boost ratings, he begins to neglect true values and resent his colleagues.

2012 saw Malling appearing in two significant Danish films that courted critical acclaim overseas: the academy-award nominated historical drama A Royal Affair – the true story of Johann Friedrich Struensee and his effect on mentally ill King Christian VII and his wife. Then came A Hijacking, which depicted the gruelling, drawn-out details of a ship hijacking. This latter film provided Malling with his meatiest role to date as a CEO who, after learning of a group of pirates hijacking one of his company’s ships, enters into trying negotiations to free those taken hostage aboard the besieged cargo vessel.

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Malling can currently been seen in the psychological thriller The Hour Of The Lynx, where he appears opposite his Killing co-star Sofie Gråbøl. His next major television role though will be in the epic Danish series 1864 where he plays a soldier names Johan, who is caught up in the middle of the bloody Second Schleswig War, where Denmark fought both Prussia and Austria in a bid to control a region of the Scandinavian country. The series which is currently is post-production, is the most expensive TV production in Danish history and also stars elite Nordic talent such as Pilou Asbæk, Nicolas Bro, Søren Pilmark and Jakob Oftebro. 1864 starts this Sunday in Denmark and will debut in the UK in early 2015.

Continuing to take on parts in projects that offer both unexpected and exciting new directions for a relatively short but substantial career thus far, it’s safe to say Malling will continue to attract universal recognition whilst ensuring Nordic filmmaking remains a notable fixture on the cinematic map.