Source: Movie Machine -
Netherlands [translated & edited]
Date: July 12, 2011
He has already had a long day full of
questions and answers when I join Michael Nyqvist at the
Ambassade hotel in Amsterdam. Despite the unchristian
hours and the visible fatigue, Nyqvist is good. What we
do not know at that moment is that it will be a
fascinating conversation full of unexpected twists about
acting, Nazis, Nijmegen and the Millennium Trilogy.
There is a look of recognition when I
shake hands with Nyqvist. We spoke to each other two
years ago at the Film by the Sea Festival in Vlissingen
when Nyqvist received the award for "As it is in
Heaven", the favorite film chosen by the public over the
festival's ten years. Then we could only exchange words
in the crowd. Now there is more time.
He has just moved to Paris. His
brother also lives in Paris. Tall buildings, Nyqvist
observes with a sigh.
Nyqvist: Is that also the case
here in Amsterdam?
It will not be much different than
in any other metropolis. Certainly here on the
Herengracht but Paris will still be a bit more
expensive, I guess so. There are also a lot of old
buildings that require a lot of maintenance.
Nyqvist casts a meaningful look
outside where on the other side of the canal are some
stately canal houses that did not pass the time
Especially if they have a
Nyqvist appears to have a great interest in history and
he quickly switches to the Second World War. In the
Netherlands, where a considerable part of film history
goes back to this black page, that is of course an
Nyqvist: Amsterdam was actually bombed during the Second
No, not Amsterdam but Rotterdam
and Nijmegen, the city where I come from is. Nijmegen
was even bombed by the Allies.
That makes an impression.
Nyqvist: You do not mean that!
Well. The Allied pilots thought
they were already over Germany and dropped the bombs in
the wrong area.
Nyqvist: That is really terrible ...
that must have been a traumatic experience.
Certainly, to this day it casts a
shadow over the liberation that followed a year and a
half later. It leaves traces. The war often also plays a
role in Dutch films.
Nyqvist: That is different in Sweden.
We do not like to talk about the war and certainly do
not make many films about it.
Nyqvist: I think mainly because of
the role that Sweden played during the war. We were
neutral but, in spite of that, Germans passed through.
Fortunately, we still had Raoul Wallenberg as
compensation and somewhere in those days Stalin was a
greater threat to Sweden than Adolf Hitler.
It is matter that Nyqvist visibly engages.
Nyqvist: I have had bodyguards around me for two years
after I played in a play about Primo Levi's work. That
was not at all good at ultra-right.
The same kind of people that Stieg
Larsson researched as the founder of the anti-Fascist
Expo foundation? He was threatened with death several
Did you ever meet Larsson before
he died in 2004?
Nyqvist: Yes, once and that was only
very brief. We were not really on the same line though.
He was really a man of the barricades full of Trotsky
Nyqvist clenches his fist when he calls Larsson's
Trotskyist ideals. It was a man of the old stamp, fiery
and reactionary and according to Nyqvist, that is also
reflected in his work. Larsson was politically active
and moved in the Swedish communist labor movement and
wrote for the Trotskyist magazine Fjärde Internationalen.
Is Mikael Blomkwist the alter ego of Stieg Larsson?
Nyqvist: Yes, without a doubt. You
just recognize a lot of the man and his background in
the books. We cannot imagine it now, but at first
Larsson had a lot of trouble getting his Millennium
That makes it extra bitter that he
has never been able to taste anything of the success. On
the other hand, we may wonder how he reacted from his
left-wing background to the great capitalist success.
Nyqvist: That is indeed an
The success of the Millennium books is overwhelming.
After the triumph in Scandinavia and Europe, director
David Fincher has shown interest in the direction of
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".
Do you have confidence in US
Nyqvist: Honestly, not that much. Now I do not have much
to do with the American commercial film. I sometimes
wonder what those people are actually doing.
Do you think that the
controversial and complex characters Lisbeth and Mikael
can be translated into American remakes without too much
Nyqvist: No, they are just too
controversial, as you say, and so they will be weakened
into acceptable and smoothed characters.
Would you like to play the role in
the American version or in a possible next movie?
Nyqvist: No. For me, Mikael Blomkvist
is a closed chapter.
Coincidentally, the next film in which we see Michael
Nyqvist comes out under the English title "The Woman Who
Dreamed about a Man". In the film we see the stormy
relationship of a famous Danish artist and fashion
photographer who during her professional wanderings
meets a man who loosens deep feelings in her and breaks
down her entire life including relationship.
If I see a title like this, it seems as if the film
is trying to take part in the success of the Millennium
films. It can be the title of a Stieg Larsson novel.
Nyqvist: Haha, you would almost think
so. Yet, it is a very different matter. It is really an
excellent film by director Per Fly about a particularly
intense relationship full of bad emotions.
Another complex relationship with
a similarly complex woman?
Nyqvist: Yes, but different. When I
saw "The Woman Who Dreamed about a Man", I immediately
had the urge to call all my ex-girlfriends to ask them
how they were doing.
Do you have trouble seeing
yourself in such a role? There are many actors and
actresses who cannot see themselves on the screen and
thus never see their own films.
Nyqvist: No, not really. You learn a
lot from it. I have been involved in the editing of
films that I play in. Then you see yourself coming over
again and again and you really do not miss any detail
anymore. You see what you actually do for the camera and
what not. Do you keep yourself in, how is your attitude?
Those are things that you can work on.
Can you achieve perfection as an
Nyqvist: That is very difficult. But
when I saw Marcello Mastroianni in "Occi Ciornie" by
Nikita Mikhalkov (1987), I saw that it was possible. I
was dumbfounded when I saw Mastroianni and realized that
I had not yet reached it. Perfection is therefore
Does it have to do with the
maturity of an actor?
Nyqvist: Yes and experience and
always critically reviewing your own performance.
Nyqvist is still visibly impressed by Mastroianni's
performance in "Occi Ciornie" ("Dark Eyes"). How happy I
would leave the visibly tired Nyqvist with the wonderful
memory of Mastroianni's performance and let him dream
away in the golden glory of cinema. But the mutual
parting brings him back into reality. While the next
interview candidate is in the starting blocks, he
apparently freshens up as a fiddle on the bench for a
sincere handshake and a compliment about the questions.
Whether I am in Cannes this year? I answer him that I am
busy man and have to see if I am going to save that. At
that moment I realize that I say that to the man who has
been working since 04.30 to give interviews in the
Netherlands and then fly back to Stockholm that evening.
Crowds are relative. Nyqvist smiles and sees the irony
of the answer, just like the undersigned. Half an hour
with this very likeable actor became an inspiring
conversation that screams for a sequel. Maybe in Cannes.