Danish screenwriter Maya Ilsøe began her career with the short drama Frunk (2003) before becoming the head writer for festive television shows Absalons hemmelighed (2006) and Pagten (2009). Her writing credits also include collaborating on the feature-film comedy Parterapi (2010), starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas (The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2013) and Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen, 2010-2013).
Her latest achievement with the Robert Award-winning drama The Legacy has sparked critical acclaim from both Danish and international audiences. We spoke with the series creator Maya Ilsøe to find out more about her thoughts on the popularity of the programme.
The Legacy has brought a thrilling series with lots of twists and turns to our screens in the UK and is definitely a ‘must have’ DVD for any Nordic fan. What do you think is the obsession outside of Denmark with Nordic TV series?
Maya Ilsøe: It is a hard question to answer, but my guess is that a part of the answer is the way Danish national television is produced. It is mainly quite non-commercial, which in my opinion, gives one as a writer a possibility to create very personal stories in an environment well known to ourselves. That creates an honest portrait of human nature which I think is universal.
We know The Legacy series 2 is airing on Danish TV right now; could you give us a glimpse into what we can expect when it reaches the UK screens?
MI: The first season opened up a Pandora’s Box of lies, greed and secrets. It forced the characters to look at themselves and others in a new way. The family situation changed dramatically and in season two the main topic is how the manifestation of a new hierarchy is emerging. It also deals with how the consequences of previous behaviour can create unrepairable damage in human relations and how that is dealt with.
The Legacy is played out by some very famous and highly regarded Danish actors; did you have in your mind who you would like to play the characters?
MI: I had various actors on my mind to begin with, but when director Pernilla August entered the project, she came up with the idea to cast as an ensemble, meaning that all the main actors were cast as a group, which would not come together before everyone had agreed to the constellation. In that way we achieved a more family-like coherence. That decision has helped us immensely along the road of creation.
Can we expect this to be another Nordic trilogy or do you think you have portrayed all you can with the two seasons?
MI: The creation of a third season has not yet been decided, but I have since the beginning of my writing thought of the story as a three act piece. A decision on this matter is to be made in the near future.
Interview by Sarah Surgey