Find out more from the new head of ‘The A Unit’ Kerstin Holm, otherwise known as Swedish actress Malin Arvidsson
Malin Arvidsson stars in the popular Swedish crime drama series Arne Dahl, based on the books by the Swedish author Jan Arnald, under the pen name “Arne Dahl”. In the first episode of series two, currently airing on BBC Four, we learn that ‘The A Unit’ has been disbanded for the past two years. When a wave of brutal murders strikes Polish nurses in Sweden, the National Police see their chance to reinstate the ‘The A Unit’. Kerstin Holm, previously a member of the team, is assigned to lead them.
Nordic Noir & Beyond caught up with Malin Arvidsson to ask her what she loves most about Arne Dahl and to share some of her top travel tips for her beloved Stockholm, where she lives and the setting for most of the Arne Dahl series was filmed.
Your character in Arne Dahl, Kerstin Holm, plays a bigger part in series two than in the first series. What was that like for you?
Malin Arvidsson: It’s amazing for me as an actor to be part of a project that is as multi-faceted and complex as Arne Dahl. In series two my character Kerstin is in charge. She has to be the boss over her friends and colleagues and has to make some difficult decisions. I really enjoyed playing the part, and it was nice to see the character develop in this way. When I visited the Nordicana festival in London in 2013 I spoke with some female visitors and they told me they see Kerstin as a role model. I think that it’s even more like this in series two because we meet a woman who has a child and can still hold down a career. I believe Swedish society is leading the way in the sense that we have good childcare and get the support needed in society to be able to combine work and family life.
What is the main difference between series one and two of Arne Dahl in your opinion?
MA: The new series has a faster pace, I think. Last time round each episode was 90 minutes long, in the new series it’s 60 minutes. This means the stories have to be tighter, more to the point. It was very noticeable while we were filming, that everyone in the cast and crew focused in on telling even better stories than last time, upping our game. Another difference is that in the first season the stories were based on books that were written some time ago. While the stories in second season are based on newer books and feel even more contemporary than before. I love Arne Dahl’s stories because they have an intellectual tone and subject matter, which combine brilliantly with interesting characters and their respective work and family life. At the same time, the stories deliver high entertainment value. It’s a skill to make these combinations work and Arne Dahl does it really well.
Kerstin is very fit in the series. What kind of training did you do before filming?
MA: I train in mixed martial arts with a friend and colleague, Dragomir Mrsic who played Mrado in the film Easy Money (2010). Dragomir runs a training program called Extreme Training and I worked out with him for four months before filming. Alexander Karim, who plays Bengt is like myself interested in fitness and he’s really good at martial arts and I really enjoyed filming scenes in the gym with him. He and I got to choreograph those scenes together which was good fun.
What’s the best thing about filming in Stockholm?
MA: I love working in Stockholm and it’s convenient for me as I have my family here. Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. It’s easy to ignore the beauty of the city where you were born and raised but I love my Stockholm. It’s a great city to work in because you have a lot of varied locations within close proximity: city life, residential areas, forest, suburban high rises – everything.
Which scenes were the most challenging to film?
MA: Some of the trickiest are the scenes inside the office. We often film out of sequence, so we may start the day filming a scene that takes place later on in the story. So it’s really important to remember where you are in the storyline. “What does my character actually know at this point?” Everyone in the room is working long days. We sometimes film for ten hours and the schedule is tight. Bearing in mind, we might have long chunks of complex dialogue about very serious issues and if one of us gets it wrong the others will laugh and then we all explode into laughter that’s very hard to stop.
Is it embarrassing filming sex scenes?
MA: Well, it can be. Shanti Roney and I hadn’t worked together as Kerstin and Paul for more than two years, and on the first day of filming season two we had to film a sex scene. It could have been embarrassing but it was fine. Shanti and everyone in the team are great people to work with, they’re all professional and sex scenes are like action scenes in the sense that they are very well choreographed and if you have a light hearted, practical and respectful attitude to filming sensitive scenes it works fine.
Which scenes are most fun to film?
MA: All of them! But if I have to say just one thing it would be the car chase scenes! I love driving and driving fast, which you can’t do in real life. It’s not like I can close off a street and drive like a lunatic – but in Arne Dahl I can do it. There is nothing better than driving super fast, doing a fast brake, opening the car door and rolling out on to the street. Haha! I’m a trained dancer so I know my body and I know how to fall without hurting myself. I love filming technical scenes that are carefully choreographed. I get a real kick when I nail a complicated scene like that.
What are you doing next?
MA: I’m in a Swedish TV series called Älskade Östermalm (“Dearest Östermalm”) where I play a juice drink guru. It’s a very different part for me. After that I’m in a feature film called Vitt skräp (“White Trash”) where I play the mother of Ola Rapace! Well, part of the film takes place when Ola’s character is a child and that’s when I portray his mother, so it’s OK! [LAUGHS] I have some great theatre projects coming up. It’s too early to talk about them but I’m looking forward to it very much!
You have worked a lot within theatre, you write and you would like to direct. When will we see a feature film written and directed by you?
MA: Within ten years, I hope. It’s a big step to publish and direct something you’ve created youself, but I really want to to it!
As well as providing us with an insight into the world of Arne Dahl, Arvidsson shared her love for the Swedish capital with her own personal guide around Stockholm.
“My Favourite Places In Stockholm” – Malin Arvidsson
Bio Rio is a cinema with a difference. It was built in 1943 and is one of Stockholm’s oldest independent cinemas. The cinema has been lovingly restored to maintain its former glory. The French inspired kitchen serves food 10am – 9pm every day.
“Bio Rio screen quality films, often independent films and documentaries. The food is really good too. Bio Rio is situated in the Söder area of central Stockholm, which is a genuine, older part of the city. Bio Rio is a hidden gem with a strong art community feel and it’s not often found by tourists.”
Bio Rio, Hornstulls strand 3, Stockholm.
Djurgården (meaning ‘animal park’) is a national Swedish city park in the heart of Stockholm. It’s a mix of parkland and forest with both canal and harbour sides. Djurgården is home to historical buildings and monuments, museums, galleries, the amusement park Gröna Lund, yacht harbours, and extensive stretches of forest and meadows. It is one of the Stockholmers’ favourite recreation areas and tourist destinations alike, attracting over 10 million visitors per year.
“The best way to see Djurgården is from horse back. It’s a wonderful way to take in the beauty that this wonderful park has to offer. I recommend a guided horse riding tour with Häståkeriet. They have very nice horses and accept all levels of riders, from the beginner to the more experienced. The stables are really nice and the horses have large fields to relax in.”
Häståkeriet, Baron Cederströms väg 13, Ingarö.
“You can’t visit Stockholm and not go on a boat ride. The Swedish archipelago is stunning. I recommend a trip to the island Fjäderholmarna, which takes around 30 minutes from the center of Stockholm. When you get off the boat you should head straight to Rökeriet restaurant, located on the pier. Order their smoked prawns – they are simply delicious!”
Catch the boat from Slussen or Nybroplan. Timetables here.
Moderna Museet, the Modern Museum, in Stockholm has one of the world’s finest collections of 20th and 21st century art. The photography collection goes back as far as 1840.
“The museum is located on the small island of Skeppsholmen right in the centre of Stockholm. The location and the views are amazing. I love visiting the museum. They always have fantastic exhibitions and I spend far too much money in their gift shop. Every time I visit I get inspired and come up with lots of ideas for scripts and plays“.
Moderna museet, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm
“This bar and restaurant is something out of the ordinary. They serve first class cocktails and the food is excellent. It’s a tiny space where jazz music is played and it’s tastefully decorated in a retro style with furniture from between 1940 and 1960. I’ve spent some memorable evenings with friends here. Top place!”
Erland’s Bar, Gästrikegatan 1, Stockholm
Interview by Monika Agorelius
Arne Dahl season two continues with thrilling back-to-back episodes on Saturdays at 9pm on BBC Four