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Danish actor Ulrich Thomsen, star of the Nordic noir whodunit series Trom, Zoomed with me about the show and his character in advance of his trip to the Berlinale.

Ulrich Thomsen in Trom
Trom: Ulrich Thomsen as Hannis Martinsson — Photo © 2022 Nordic Entertainment Group

Ulrich Thomsen has been acting professionally for three decades, so you might already be familiar with him from his award-winning work in the films The Inheritance and The Celebration, or from his television roles in the Danish series Face to Face and the American series The Blacklist.

One of his most recent roles is in Trom, a multilingual (Danish, Faroese, and English) mystery-crime drama series based on the best-selling novels of Faroese author Jógvan Isaksen. In it Ulrich plays Hannis Martinsson, an investigative journalist whose return to Denmark from the United States is via the Faroe Islands and marked by a discovery, a tragedy, and a mystery — in that order. Check out the trailer to see what I mean.

Lucky me, I had the opportunity to chat with the very busy Ulrich via Zoom for a few minutes about Trom. There is a spoiler-ish comment in the interview, but you probably figured it out from the trailer, you armchair detective, you. (Text has been lightly edited for clarity.)

LJ: “Trom is a terrific show and I’m hoping that there will be a second season, so can we start there and work backwards? Any word on whether or not there will be a second season?”

UT: “I know they’re working on it, for sure. I’ve been talking to the producer, I know she’s working on it. I’m going to talk to her again when we go to the Berlin Film Festival. I’m there for other reasons. Yeah, she’s talking about, asking about my time, cuz I’m also directing a film, so there’s a lot of balls in the air on my part, but that’s good. It’s a luxury problem. But yeah, they are definitely talking about it, for sure. It’s a major cliffhanger, the way it ends, right?”

LJ: “Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that, but there were a lot of things that happened in the show that kind of caught me off-guard… Your character, he’s an interesting guy. Given his backstory and the telling conversation that he had with [former love interest] Aurora, it got me wondering if his investigative journalist side or his paternal side was more of a pull in launching his own investigation into what happened to Sonja. Can you say?”

UT: “Yeah… he grew up in [Faroe Islands’ capital] Tórshavn and left there for personal reasons. That backstory was… there was a little more about his story, what he was into, you know, crime and things, but it kind of didn’t sit well with the overall storyline, so they cut it down to not so much, but he definitely has a story. He has a past in Tórshavn, this is the reason why he left. This is the problem, why he has to go back. His brother’s also giving him shit. And his style — he gets into a bar fight, which is his style, basically, he doesn’t shy away from anything. So the character’s behavior is also how he works; he doesn’t shy away from things…”

LJ: “So his being an investigative journalist — I was curious, because he’s only just found out that he has a daughter, was he pulled to delve into what happened to Sonja from being a father that he didn’t realize he had been, or from years’ worth of being an investigative reporter. Do you think he was pulled by one more than the other?”

UT: “I think in the beginning he wanted just to go away again, but then when she dies and it turns out that… the reason why he basically left there… merged with his job, [it] makes him want to solve it. I mean, you don’t have a daughter for thirty years and all of a sudden you have one and she’s not there anymore, that’s within a day — if that other stuff didn’t also appear right away, I think maybe he would have let it be, cuz what can you do, you know? What’s there to do about it? If she drowned, that would be sad, but there’s a crime story behind it, and then that digs into his job and his wanting to solve the whole thing.”

LJ: “The Faroe Islands are yet another character in the story… If I’m correct, Trom is the first series to be filmed in the Faroe Islands. Had you ever worked there or filmed there before?”

UT: “I’ve never been there before. That was also a very selfish reason to do this show. I always wanted to go there, but for reasons I never did, so that was a good opportunity to also see that part of Denmark; it’s still the Danish kingdom. I’d never been there, and I’m definitely gonna go back. It was quite a haunting, in a good way, place. It’s very vast even though it’s small, and it’s huge and it’s nowhere near anything I’ve ever seen anywhere. It’s quite cool.”

LJ: “What was so different about it?”

UT: “It’s very rugged, and there’s a certain – you know, when nature becomes very big, if you know what I mean. It’s like being on top of a mountain, I guess, not that I’ve ever been on top of any mountain, but you look at something that is so different — not human, but it has its own soul and its own spirit.”

LJ: “Cool!”

UT: “When the weather’s bad, it’s like… Thor’s hammer; there’s something wild about it. And I think it rubs on the [Faroese] people, as well. They’re very friendly people, they’re sturdy. It’s different, it’s just different.”

LJ: “Well, hopefully you’ll be going back in the near future for filming Season 2. With regard to Season 1, for viewers here in the US and also in Canada with the launch of Viaplay — I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it right. Is it ‘vie-a-play’ or ‘vee-a-play’?”

UT: “We say ‘vee-a-play’ here but could be ‘vie-a-play.'”

LJ: “Either way, what would you like audiences here to know about Trom?”

UT: “It’s a good crime story, it’s whodunit. Something happens, whodunit, and we need to find out what happened. But it’s also the scenery, which we just talked about, is different from the majority of shows that you see. It’s always, well, not always, but New York or wherever, you know, bigger cities. Or trashy backyards. But this is nature — nature has a big part of it, as well. It’s a character in its own, and it’s just different. It’s a different language, if that’s appealing to anyone… I speak Danish and [the Faroese actors] speak Faroese. They understand Danish cuz it’s a Danish kingdom, so I thought it was a little odd to [film in both languages], but it works well, and it’s what they do up there. I can speak Danish to the people up there and they would understand. I wouldn’t understand their language, unfortunately. I don’t think the American audience or the Canadian audience would hear the difference, but it’s a mix of Danish and Faroese.”

There you have it, from the star of Trom himself. So before you start booking a trip to the Faroe Islands to see up close and personal what Ulrich means about the place, check out Trom. It’s available on the just-launched Viaplay direct-to-consumer streaming service.

(Also check out my interview with Pål Sverre Hagen and Ine Marie Willmann, the stars of the multilingual Norwegian thriller Furia.)


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Interview: “Trom” Star Ulrich Thomsen on His Character & Uniqueness of the Series
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