Source: Oscar Ekman Interview
[translated & edited]
Date: April 2013
Michael's newly published book
"Dansa för oss"
is a kind of follow-up to the success of "När barnet lagt sig"
(2009) in which he portrayed his upbringing - and
how he, as a five-year-old, finds out that his father
and mother are not his biological parents.
This time the flashes from childhood
serve to tell another story - it about the struggle of
being introduced into the film and theatrical world.
Michael Nyqvist takes work as a painter and goes on
humiliating auditions before finally arriving at the
stage school in Malmö.
Doubt consumes him. Will I be seen? Am I good enough? Am
I really a big scam? When he gets a job at Dramaten, he
feels like a "silverfish" as he sneaks past the portrait
of the old actor legends.
Today, he knows that doubt can never be shaken, but that
it can be utilized.
"Doubt should be there. It's part of a creative process.
As an actor, you must question yourself as much as you
question the role. I usually think you cannot celebrate
Ramadan in movies without knowing what it's about just
as much as you cannot celebrate Christmas without
watching Donald Duck. [Every year on Christmas Eve
Swedes gather around the TV to indulge in a
holiday tradition since 1959 watching a Disney cartoon
featuring Donald Duck]. I have to understand the
culture, being born into the role; otherwise, it will be
Michael Nyqvist has curious, searching eyes.
"Do you understand what I mean? Did I make it strange
with Ramadan and Christmas Eve? I meant nothing
He laughs. To interview Michael Nyqvist is to be washed
overboard by a storyteller with constant sideways and "pilsnabba"
"You must be clear," he continues. "I was interviewed in
Expressen once and at one point, I did not really hear
the question. Then they wrote that 'Michael Nyqvist has
gotten the role despite his hearing loss.'"
It is obvious that he enjoys writing and talking about
Michael Nyqvist has long been
employed at Dramaten. He has made feature films,
including successes like "Together", "The Guy in the
Grave Next Door" and "As It is in Heaven." It is said
that after the role of Mikael Blomkvist in Stieg
Larsson's "Millennium" Trilogy, he became the country's
best-paid actor. But the fear of having a hybrid is also
described in the new book.
"When I feel pity, which I had the chance to feel, I
become nonchalant and self-sufficient and begin to think
I represent myself. When I went to Hollywood after
"Millennium", I thought I was becoming relaxed and bad
and repeating myself in both life and acting. Studying
abroad and speaking other languages was a way to
challenge myself to get out of it all.
But Hollywood also meant a massive
cultural rock. In 2011, he played against Tom Cruise in
the big movie "Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol".
"When Tom and I began to hang out, it felt like I was a
statistic in his limited company. And I was still the
star from the 'Millennium' and Ingmar Bergman country.
But in this contextual context, people were talking to
me as if I were a beginner: 'You must not watch the
camera when you act.' Then I could feel a little how we
treat our immigrants here at home. And I stuck to my 'oxfordian
english' in order not to slip out of the role, but they
do not accept what you say unless you speak with an
Michael Nyqvist has a good friend who is a language
coach who advises Michael in every new role. In
"Mission Impossible", he would therefore play the role
with a solemn oxford dialect.
"Okay," he said. "Read a page from Shakespeare's 'King
Lear'. So I started: 'Death, death, grief, blah blah
blah ...'. Then he looked skeptically at me and said,
'Well, it's better to have a good shit than a bad
In "Dance for us", Michael Nyqvist describes how he as a
young person is dazzled by meeting such actors as Stellan Skarsgård, Thommy Berggren and Keve Hjelm. Today
he has reached their position...
"It's a hard job because when you're new, you think you
should be like someone else. I would like to be Al
Pacino. But it's all about finding the truth in
In recent years he has lived in a suitcase. When we
meet, he had just finished filming "Paris
Follies" opposite French star Isabelle
Huppert. A few days later he was scheduled to film "My
So-called Father" with director Ulf Malmros.
The family travels to film locations as much as
possible, but the two children have grown up and live
their own lives. His own childhood has strongly
characterized Michael Nyqvist's parenthood.
"I often think of Dad's morning robe from the 50's,
which was never washed. To me, it smelled better than
the most expensive perfume because it was for warmth and
safety. It's hard to be a parent... My son is 17 years
old now and I try to remember how it felt at that age.
They are very wise at that age and you can learn a lot
Michael Nyqvist looks temporarily down at the table.
"We are very close. Sometimes I feel shy as a father
over the totally stupid love you get. I usually say, "I
think you know how to choose life, but you can always
ask if you have doubts."