Pål Sverre Hagen and Ine Marie Wilmann, who lead the cast of the multilingual Norwegian thriller Furia, shared some interesting tidbits about the series on our Zoom.
Furia is a furious, binge-worthy thriller. Opening in a seemingly idyllic Norwegian town, the action gets ratcheted up quickly after Asgeir, a police investigator with a secretive past, encounters Ragna, an undercover operative who’s infiltrated a nationalist group that’s planning to wreak havoc.
Starring as Asgeir and Ragna are Pål Sverre Hagen (Exit, Beforeigners) and Ine Marie Willmann (Exit, War Sailor), whose characters take viewers on a heart-pounding journey from the beautiful Norwegian countryside to the middle of a major metropolitan city in Europe, with dead bodies piling up along the way.
Much more peaceful and laid back was the Zoom that I did with Pål and Ine about Furia.
LJ: “The show is tremendous. It’s quite rare these days that I will binge-watch more than, say, three episodes at a time. I probably would’ve binged all eight episodes if it wasn’t for the fact that it was stupid o’clock in the morning when I finished Episode 6… Let’s start with your characters. Both of your characters have a tragedy in their past that informs them in the present; it definitely informs their actions in the present. So, for you as the actors playing those characters, what informed you in portraying them, in embodying who they are?”
IMW: “That’s a good question. I think what you now reference, I can only speak for myself, but this very close-to-heart family trauma, which is also connected to this national trauma in Norway — this sorrow… and this shame and the need to… rebuild the world or make the world a livable place again for herself… I think the emotional base of the character was so strong, so that was very easy to connect to. And then going into the whole work with the theme of the series, it also expanded that whole emotional base into something that’s very — I feel like my character is very ideologically driven, as well, so I also went deep into the ideology and trying to do all this research.”
LJ: “Pål how about you?”
PSH: “For my character, the core of that story is the father-daughter relationship and how all these bigger topics that this series is about reaches into their family and affects their lives so directly. That’s the heart of the story for me, and I think it was a very good place to start off the series and the storyline with the two of them. It’s good to have something like that family when the story is going so far. It starts in Norway, the beautiful nature, and travels all the way to the heart of Europe, so it’s going on a journey. So it’s always good to have a core that you can return to when you work with a character.”
LJ: “Ine, I wanna go back to what you were saying about the themes. There were a number of themes that ran throughout the series. For both of you, was there a theme in particular that you kind of attached yourself to more so than others when you were playing your characters?”
IMW: “To Ragna, my character, I think the whole theme that revolves around revenge and rage versus this trying to do good, how much damage are you willing to do in order to do something good, that you believe is good in the end — both as an inner fight — how much damage will she do to herself, but also how much you have to weigh this balance between how much damage do I do to the world in order to try to fix it. But I think also, as an actress, to me it’s very rewarding to be able to participate in projects that you feel have this other layer, besides wanting to, you know, do a cool character and an exciting thriller series. It also has this target of trying to pinpoint how radicalization is happening among us and how the world is getting polarized and how these things influence each other.”
LJ: “And Pål, how about you?”
PSH: “It’s so much about the father-daughter relationship — such a basic instinct to keep your child safe, it can fuel so much, it can fuel everything in your life. My character… his problem is that he has also made some mistakes that probably made this child more unsafe than she had to be, and that he tangled himself into something that he has a very tough time getting out of. So he’s not only running from a threat that’s totally separated from him… he has to bear the weight and the burden of also being involved with the situation that created this threat to their family. And we’re exploring this quite a lot in the first season, but mostly we’re exploring it really in Season 2, which is coming out later this year.”
LJ: “I’m really looking forward to that. The whole series, there are some really touching scenes and there are some really disturbing scenes and a lot of the imagery that was used, especially here in the US. Just as background, I know people who died in 9/11, so that was really tough for me to see. That’s me as a viewer. You, as actors in the show, were there any scenes that you found more challenging to play?”
IMW: “There was… there is a scene: me and my colleague are sitting in Kreuzberg in Berlin… he’s talking about 9/11… using this as an example, the 9/11, of how you can provoke emotion among people… And this exact day when he’s holding this speech, and we did it again and again and again, it was quite tough listening to this — it was the same day as the teacher in Paris got decapitated for showing a picture of Muhammad. And then you could see, you could actually see what he was talking about. You could see it in the media, you could see it amongst people starting to build these polarized walls against each other, being frightened, being afraid, and then saying, ‘You’re not one of us’ and ‘We have to protect this culture’ – you could actually see this culture fight being provoked by these emotions… So that was quite a tough day at work. We were crying, actually. You could see these things happening in reality and we got reminded that this isn’t just a fairy tale, this isn’t just a story. This is real, so that was quite hard.”
LJ: “And Pål, how about you?”
PSH: “Ine and I, we have different missions in making this series, and for my character and for me as an actor, my focus was much more on the very intimate setting of a family and the relationship between a single father, a single parent, and his daughter, and trying to find that heart between them. It’s always an interesting challenge to work with young actors and to find that bond between us and tell the story of a parent and a child. My scenes with [Isabella Beatrice Lunda], I would say that they, yeah, it’s always special in trying to make that work.”
LJ: “Working with children and animals, right?”
Well, Isabella does a fine job of playing Pål’s daughter in Furia, so I hope to see more of her in Season 2. Before it arrives in the US (date tba), check out Season 1, which is available on the just-launched Viaplay direct-to-consumer streaming service.
(Also check out my interview with Ulrich Thomsen, the star of the Nordic noir mystery-crime drama series Trom.)
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