Interview with ‘The Bridge’ director Henrik Georgsson

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We chat exclusively with the man behind the lens

He’s worked with The Bridge writer and creator Hans Rosendfeldt on Marcella and directed episodes of Swedish political thriller Blue Eyes. Now, Henrik Georgsson reveals more about his spectacular experience working on The Bridge, directing Nordic Noir icon Sofia Helin, and what it has been like to say goodbye to the iconic characters (and actors too!)

When filming The Bridge, there are certain style choices the director must consider to achieve the look of the show. “We try to be positive about the weather and the darkness! [LAUGHS] It’s quite tricky, really, because there are no bright sunny days. It would be the wrong atmosphere and mood for the style of the show,” Henrik muses. “If it’s sunny, we can’t say, OK, we’re not filming today. We must find a way to achieve the Nordic Noir feeling whatever the weather. It’s all about the colour grading and hues, and the architecture too. We try not to film places with old-style houses built in the early 20th century. We film modern places, with a lot of glass, concrete, and other hard materials – designs from the 1960s and onwards. Everything that corresponds with the modern, welfare society in Sweden and throughout Scandinavia, which has been a theme from the beginning.”

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With only eight episodes, as opposed to the traditional ten, the director worked on the first half of the final season, which had us hooked from the start. “In seasons two and three, I directed the first four episodes and the last two episodes. I was supposed to do the same for The Bridge IV, but I was making a documentary at the same time,” Henrik explains. “Instead, I directed the first four episodes. That was different, as I didn’t get to film the end of the season like I normally do. It was sad, as it would have been nice to direct the end of the whole series. It has been great to film and a challenge to make The Bridge IV as good as the previous seasons – but we managed to do it! I’m very pleased with this season.”

The climax of season four’s first episode had fans questioning the fate of Saga. “Most people don’t think Saga will die. We were discussing this in Sweden – whether we were going to release PR images of Saga from episode two onwards,” Henrik reveals. “However, the producers wanted to show her, and it wouldn’t have worked with the series being shown in different countries at different times. It would have been fun to make people ask, are they really going to kill her after one episode? [LAUGHS]” Now it sounds unbelievable – but could this be a plot ploy? “Viewers believe that she won’t die. She’s alive and kicking quite fast in episode two [LAUGHS] We didn’t want her to be kept in a hospital bed for too long – it would have been boring. In some of the UK reviews, critics said they missed Saga’s presence in the first episode because she was imprisoned and not out investigating – but I think the prison story works well.”

Find out more from Sofia Helin in our exclusive chat here.

There are many new filming locations in The Bridge IV, which have made an impact on the director in many ways, “The prison was a nice place to film! It was once a real prison, which still had a lot of interiors we could use, like the doors and bars,” Henrik shares. “We had a very specific vision of how we wanted to film the prison scenes too – we followed Sofia around with a hand-held camera, so she was always close up in the frame, with other inmates almost blurred in the background. We wanted to maintain a bubble around her. I like that first image we see of Saga in her cell when we just see her face as she wakes up and you don’t know where she is at first.”

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The fourth season is also based in Copenhagen, with more Danish sets – but they’re not actually Danish. “We also had a new police station this year because it was a Danish police station, instead of the Swedish one. We built this outside of a studio in a former police station in Malmö,” Henrik confesses. “Then there is the village – the really depressing village [LAUGHS] – located far away in the countryside. These houses were built for the workers at the nearby factory to live in, but it was closed approximately 20 years ago. It was still a great experience to film there, which felt cinematic in a way. It was also the hardest location to find for season four.”

There are many challenging scenes to film in season four, including one of the most challenging scenes to watch from the outset. “The stoning scene was a very challenging and horrific scene to direct. It was shot on a small island underneath the Øresund Bridge, which can get very windy,” Henrik recalls. “On the night of the shoot, it was extremely windy and cold, especially for the actress. She was very strong throughout the scene because she had to be in the ground for a very long time. We didn’t want it to be too speculative or gratuitously violent, but we wanted it to be terrifying at the same time. It worked the way we wanted it to work and the reactions from audiences and critics have been quite good.”

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The Bridge is known for a crime narrative, which links the characters together. While the show spotlights social issues, the villain’s M.O. is always inventive and gruesome. “Hans Rosenfeldt did a body count, but I think there is less violence in The Bridge IV overall. There are still horrific scenes like the previous seasons, which is the spectacular element of a crime show,” Henrik admits. “The murders and the villains are not unrealistic, but they are larger-than-life. For example, switching off the lights on the bridge to place the body on the border between Denmark and Sweden – not just anyone can do that! [LAUGHS] The Bridge has never been 100% realistic, I don’t think, like Saga being a detective with the problems she has. That has always given us a lot of freedom because we don’t have to stop and think, is this the way it’s done in the real world? We just do what feels right with the story. We discuss real social themes, like immigration, societal issues and human stories in an interesting and entertaining way.”

Read our full interview with the creator of The Bridge Hans Rosenfeldt here.

In addition to Saga and Henrik, there is a host of new characters tied to the crime narrative, including 1864 director Ole Bornedal’s daughter, Fanny Bornedal, who played Young Inge in the miniseries. “We have a lot of supporting characters and subplots, so there’s a lot of drama – it’s not just a criminal investigation,” Henrik says. “There’s a lot of characters with their own problems that you get to know, with links which are not always that obvious. In the first season, these were referred to as “short films” with their own plots, which weren’t related to the crime.” A few red herrings too. “Maybe a few too many sometimes!”

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Hans Rosendfeldt, Camilla Ahlgren, Sofia Helin and Thure Lindhardt have all described the crew as a family. We wanted to know what is has been like working with Sofia for so many years “It’s been great. I’ve worked on about 20 episodes with Sofia, so I know Sofia and Saga quite well,” Henrik adds. “We have fun changing things during the Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR) to match how Saga would sound, as simple as changing how she says a yes to a yes [LAUGHS] Sofia is an amazing actor and it has been fun to come back to the same character and explore new things about her.” The director shared with us his experience working with Thure Lindhardt. “After the second season, it was great to work with Thure as he is so enthusiastic and positive. When Thure joined the series, his character added a new energy to the show. I really miss working with Sofia, Thure and Kim Bodnia now it’s all over, personally and professionally – the actors and the characters!”

Discover more from Thure Lindhardt in our conversion with the actor here.

What is the filmmaker working on now The Bridge is over? “Next, I’m filming a Swedish TV series which is also set in Stockholm but filmed in Malmö. It’s from the same producer as The Bridge, Anders Landström, and we’re working with a lot of the same crew from The Bridge. It felt good to be back in Malmö,” Henrik explains. “It’s been such a long time since we started working on The Bridge, which, for me, was back in November 2010. In between each season, I have worked on other things, like Blue Eyes, Marcella and my new documentary, but I always returned to The Bridge. It wasn’t just another job; it has been a big part of my life.”

 

Interview by Antony Smith

 

The Bridge IV is available to own from Monday 2nd July. Pre-order The Bridge – The Complete Season Four on DVD and Blu-ray at the Arrow TV Shop now

Stay tuned in for the next episode on BBC Two tomorrow night from 9pm. The latest episodes are also available on digital download via iTunes here