Discover more about the show from the star of The Legacy
We spoke with the distinguished Danish actress, Trine Dyrholm, about her experience playing Gro Grønnegaard in The Legacy, fighting on-screen with co-star Carsten Bjørnlund and her illustrious career to date.
Congratulations on being a Bodil Award record-breaker, plus your victories at the Robert Awards and the Berlin International Film Festival.
“It has been a wild year! Attending the Berlinale was a very special thing for me; I have been there seven times with six different films and I was a member of the jury some years ago. It was a great honour to receive that beautiful Silver Bear for The Commune. Receiving the award from Meryl Streep was the biggest honour I could imagine. Then the Robert Awards and the Bodil Awards – I’m quite overwhelmed by all these awards! [LAUGHS] I’m so happy with the international success of The Commune.”
What is it like to look back on The Legacy following the series finale?
“My relationship with The Legacy is very special as we have filmed our third and final season, which is very scary and sad! It was the right artistic choice to only make three seasons. The creator, Maya Ilsøe, had three seasons in mind from the beginning. In the first season, we had to learn all about the characters; the second season developed these qualities and the third season is about the younger generation.”
Can you tell us more about your directing experience in the last season?
“The third season was also special to me because I had the opportunity to direct two episodes, which has been a big challenge – in a good way! [LAUGHS] I felt very connected to the material. I know all of the actors and I have a great relationship with the writer, the art department and the production designer – which are central parts of the whole series. We worked close together and it was easy to collaborate with good people around you.”
The Legacy sounds like a great commune.
“Exactly. In a way, the two projects are related. In The Legacy, I’m playing the generation after the 1960’s, while in The Commune, I’m part of that generation. The two have similar themes in the sense of sharing and togetherness, as well as facing family, childhood and social challenges.”
The Legacy is often related to the Dogme95 movement, especially Festen, due to its sense of naturalism.
“Maya Ilsøe was inspired by the Dogme95 movement from growing up with it. For me, it was amazing to work with Thomas Vinterberg and Ulrich Thomsen together again after 20 years. In Festen, we played a very young couple – well, she was in love and his life was messed up! – and now we’re playing a couple who are our age. Time has passed! [LAUGHS] I found a photo from Festen, of Ulrich and me. We were so thin and looked so innocent somehow! That was a little shocking to see [LAUGHS] I’m not afraid of being older; it’s interesting the experiences we have learned since then. Thomas Vinterberg invites you into the creative process, which is the same with The Legacy. Maya Ilsøe is very generous as she allows the actors to be co-creators. I love this collaborative style which helps to develop the character and find nuances, which can be added to the script before shooting.”
What has it been like to work with Susanne Bier in the award-winning films Love Is All You Need and In a Better World?
“Susanne Bier is very talented, intelligent and a lot of fun. She is very open and there is a lot of freedom during filming but she doesn’t invite you into the process in the same way as Thomas Vinterberg. I like both ways of filmmaking and I enjoy working with her because she creates interesting characters. She’s a great woman and I am so proud of her success with The Night Manager.”
Has this inspired you to direct TV and film features in the future?
“First and foremost, I am an actress, which I have been doing for many years but I am very interested in directing. In past interviews when I began my singing career at age 14, I said that I wanted to be a journalist, an actress or a film director. It has always been an ambition of mine. When I work, I like to see the whole picture and the visual concept. I think it’s important to have an understanding and be aware of the technical elements to be a good actor. It’s also a big responsibility to be the director – you need a special psyche for it and I have a lot of respect for directing. It’s very tough but it felt natural to me because I knew the material.”
Can you tell us more about the struggles that Gro faces in the third season?
“When you first meet Gro in season three, she has an exhibit at her museum, involving her niece Hannah and a young artist collective who are creating art with activism. While Gro grew up in the artistic landscape of the 1970s, the young artists she is looking after now want to make political statements about the contemporary art world. This inspires Gro to challenge the art environment, by placing art in a real context. However, she doesn’t have control! The consequences of this forces Gro to question her own way of life.”
Which artists are you a fan of?
“I am a fan of the Danish artist John Kørner and Katrine Raben Davidsen and I also think that Banksy and Matthew Barney makes some very interesting work. Art can be many things which is what I have found inspiring. Modern, young artists showcase events throughout the world that makes you question what art is. I like art that you can’t define but you can make sense of it as a whole – the “in-between”. Although, I am a fan of classic artists like Edvard Munch. A very dark painter – that’s my kind of art! [LAUGHS]”
What have been some of your favourite scenes in the series, such as the fights between Gro and Frederik?
“In real life, Carsten and I are close friends! I should make that clear! Carsten Bjørnlund is such a great actor and a wonderful man. The whole cast is wonderful but we have had some outstanding fights! [LAUGHS] With Carsten, I am never insecure. The scene in the Thai hotel room in season two was fun and crazy because you trust each other so much. How we react after the physical confrontations – that is the most interesting part of those scenes. Things like that only happen when you dare to make them happen, otherwise, you don’t know how a character is going to react. In season three, Frederik returns from California and explodes in a different way.
What was it like returning to The Legacy III without Jesper Christensen?
“We all missed Jesper. He was the best father I could have ever hoped to have in fiction. There is a lot of death, tragedy and loss in the show but that is just how it is. Gro’s father Thomas is still there; you will see him in the art and production design. Lone represents his generation along with Signe’s parents and his spirit is still in the series with Emil, Gro and Melody.”
What are your thoughts on the Nordic Noir phenomenon and popularity of Nordic dramas?
“I like the crime shows but it’s good that we don’t just do crimes. [LAUGHS] We’re all surprised and overwhelmed at how well Nordic Noir has travelled. It started out with The Killing, which was a big success in Denmark – it’s a great show and Sofie Gråbøl is fantastic. If it wasn’t for The Killing and Borgen, it’s likely that The Legacy wouldn’t have aired in the UK. We’re just part of that wave, in a way. I am just thankful that it’s possible to make shows and films, like A Royal Affair, Love Is All You Need and In a Better World, in a little country in Danish, which people want to see around the world. When I’ve met international fans of The Legacy, it’s more than I could have hoped for – the impact and the fact it is being seen out there.”
Do you enjoy watching or playing handball, like some of the characters in the show?
“I’m not a big fan of handball but I do watch the European and world championships. Handball interests me like football – I like it when people are good at it! [LAUGHS] It’s very big in Denmark and you see it more in The Legacy III with Frederik’s son, Villads. My sister is a handball player and I grew up in an environment where you either liked football, handball or badminton – and I chose badminton.”
What are you working on next?
“I have some ideas which I will try to develop when I have some time. Right now, I’m collaborating as an actress and writer – collaborating is what I love to do. I like it when acting is not only about acting. I’m also interested in international projects. I have recently been filming in Italy, in the English language, in a film called Nico, 1988. I play the singer Nico, who started her career in the Velvet Underground.”
Interview by Antony Smith
The Legacy III and The Legacy – The Complete Series boxset is out to buy on DVD and Blu-ray through Nordic Noir & Beyond on Monday 29th May.
Pre-order your copy from the Amazon store here.