During the excitement and flurry of the Swedish premiere in Malmö, not only did we interrogate and peel back the layers of the brilliant Saga Norén with help from Sofia Helin, we brought in Thure Lindhardt for questioning.
We start off by getting down to the nitty-gritty of the new Noir character Henrik Sabroe; his metaphorical and literal darkness.
How did you end up in The Bridge?
TL: I was asked if I wanted to read the script and come to a meeting in Stockholm with the director Henrik Georgsson and Sofia Helin – and it was magic. It’s an absolutely incredibly well written script. The characters are so well written. Normally when you read a script, especially for television, you often have so many questions: why don’t you do like this? Why isn’t it like that or my character would never do that! Here you would read it and just go of course, I understand. It plays very well, like well written music. So that was the main thing; the script which is a big part of the show’s success.
Henrik Sabroe is a gifted detective and a complex character who makes a big impact very quickly. Did this make it easier for you when you understood who he was?
TL: I liked that he has a similar personality and abilities to Saga. This is rare in a TV series; you usually create very different characters, which they are, but you would also make sure that each is unique with their own signature. Suddenly Henrik comes in and I think it is very interesting as well. He’s got some dark sides. He’s got some human sides.
UK audiences are going to miss Martin a lot but a rapport and a respect is quite quickly established between Henrik and Saga.
TL: Which, to me, is all due to how the series is written. It is so well written.
At what point was the decision made for Henrik to become such a dark character?
TL: We discussed it a lot and we had different discussions about it. One thing was clear – the character had to have a lot of darkness to him. Another thing was that Sofia is blonde and if you have another very blonde actor on-screen it would be like Pippi Longstocking! It would be like two blonde kids running around Sweden and Denmark. I also went to research my role with the police and investigation teams. I was watching them, talking to them and figuring things out because this character is special, however he’s still a very professional investigator. There was something about trying to fit Henrik into that world and yet be different. So I think that adding that little beard and the little darker touch gives him a little more normality. When you’re that blonde, as I am and all Scandinavians are, but not everybody is that blonde! I like those little changes because to me it becomes like a mask and it is easier for me to project this image. It liberates me. I love that and I always admire actors that make those changes.
Is it hard to act alongside such a strong character like Saga?
TL: I think it’s wonderful and so challenging. When I met Sofia Helin for the first time we did some scenes together. She knows her character so well because she’s played Saga for so long now. It wasn’t like meeting an actor; it was like meeting a person and reacting to that person. That was very interesting and wonderful, like coming to meet a whole person. It made it much easier for me.
Did you know your character’s emotional journey for the entire season or were you waiting for individual scripts to learn what would happen to him?
TL: I knew the bigger story-lines so I knew exactly which journey I had to emotionally commit to. Where he was coming from, what he has lost and what he wants. So that was pretty clear but I didn’t know the end. I did not know what would happen. There are things about my own character and his circumstances that I did not know until three months into the shoot.
Do you prefer working like that or do you prefer to know more from the beginning?
TL: I knew the character and what he wanted. In way it’s like real-life because we know what we want but don’t know if we are going to get it or not. So that was interesting. It was also very challenging and frustrating at times because we want to know everything that we don’t. We shot the first four episodes back-to-back and then another four more episodes, finishing with the final two episodes. So in that way I could definitely make a clear journey but I couldn’t make a journey from episode one to ten at once. To me it was a very good way of working. Then we changed director which can also be very good. I mean, Henrik is a wonderful director but it’s still nice to have someone else come and look at you and the story with fresh new eyes.
Do we see these differences as a viewer?
TL: I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ve only seen the first four episodes so I don’t know. It’s been the same for the other two seasons.
Is it normal practice for a new director to film subsequent episodes after the series has already begun?
TL: It’s very normal. I did The Borgias (2011-2013) for Showtime. That was ten episodes and that had four different directors. Every director made two episodes. With The Borgias, Neil Jordan was show-runner but his episodes were much darker than the others because he is Neil Jordan! I think if you don’t know it as a normal viewer I don’t think you notice unless you are a film or television buff!
With Kim Bodnia leaving this gave The Bridge a new detective dynamic and has taken the show in a different direction.
TL: I am a fan of Kim Bodnia’s work but he’s doing something else that is really good. He’s in good hands!
Does your character survive for another season?
TL: We shall see.
Interview by Jon Sadler, Andy Lawrence and Kristel van Teeffelen.
Keep watching The Bridge III to see what happens on Saturdays from 9pm on BBCFour