Source:  [translated & edited]

Date: March 17, 2015

Michael Nyqvist is one of the most popular actors in Scandinavia. After the Swedish films "Together" (2000), "As It is in Heaven" (2004) and Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" Trilogy, he made the international breakthrough with US productions such as "Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol" and "John Wick". In an interview with Sky, the 55-year-old explains what gives his acting skills so much depth and how he gets along with series partner Dominic Monaghan in "100 Code".

Mr. Nyqvist, you are known as a character actor for playing a variety of types and genres from comedy to drama. What is your role as policeman Mikael Eklund in the thriller series "100 Code"?

Nyqvist: Eklund is frustrated and tired of police service. He's fed up with criminals and is about to give up his job. And he feels guilty because he's always worked, neglecting his wife and daughter. Worse, when his wife died of cancer, he was busy with a case. It's a complex character and that's why I accepted the role.

Do you connect to your roles by looking for something that you know about yourself?

Nyqvist: Yes exactly. Eklund is also very good at his job and cannot stop what he once started. Nevertheless, he claims that he no longer likes his job. That's a lie - but humans are like that. You might wake up and think you should do something different in life. For example, start with yoga. You know it all yourself and that makes a role playable for me.

And if you play a bad character?

Nyqvist: Even if I have nothing in common with such a character, I find something. For example, I recently shot in Munich for the movie "Colonia" starring Daniel Bruehl and Emma Stone. I play the sect leader Paul Schäfer, a very disgusting person. But I only need a tiny identification point and that's enough for me to explore it.

Are you a seeker?

Nyqvist: Yes, in any case. I have to be that in my job. And I always look for complexity in my roles.

In "100 Code" Eklund works with Thomas Conley, played by Dominic Monaghan, an American cop, and the two cannot stand each other. The series plays with prejudice between Americans and Europeans.

Nyqvist: I lived in New York for six years. We think our culture is the same, but we are different. In the US, there is no class system and you are very focused on money. We Europeans are embarrassed when someone talks about money. And, as you know, Americans cannot eat with a knife and fork and dress like adults. In short, I felt as if I were better because our homes here are 600 years old... Seriously, there are many prejudices.

But with Monaghan, you have hopefully gotten along well in private?

Nyqvist: Yes, very. I even invited him to my house in the country. He is still traumatized today.

What did you do to him?

Nyqvist: Only so much: It was very Swedish.

Dark Scandinavian detective stories are so typical that they form their own genre under the name "Nordic Noir". How is it that Scandinavia has produced such a thing?

Nyqvist: When I started my career, Ingmar Bergman determined the films in Scandinavia. By that I mean, we're not so interested in who the killer is, but always the "why." And to be honest, in my country I have never met an actor who says he had a nice childhood.

For real?

Nyqvist: Those who had a good childhood are not good actors.

So you need a tormented soul to act well?

Nyqvist: Maybe. I think acting is something very childlike. When acting, one experiences childhood again. It's like a rebirth. And as an actor, you have to be very curious like a child. The character doesn't know what is behind the next door because he didn't read the script, only the actor has read it.

Do you need a lot of information about your role?

Nyqvist:  No, very little. I have too much imagination. Of course, I talked to police officers for "100 Code", but the most helpful thing was to talk to a chess player because Eklund likes to play chess. It's unbelievable how many moves a good player can plan in advance. I'm going crazy if I'm just two steps ahead. It's hugely stressful, and I feel stupid.

You have to be able to get in and out of the role. Is that hard?

Nyqvist: Depends. The already mentioned sect leader Paul Schäfer was terrible, really bad. I almost felt sick.

Do you even end up harming your health by playing an evil character?

Nyqvist: No, on the contrary. I'll explain this with an example: The late Swedish actor and author Erland Josefson was a very good friend of mine, the smartest man I've ever met. He was not only intelligent, but by exploring his roles so extensively, he had no fear. This is typical for older actors, in my opinion.

Do you look at yourself in your films and series?

Nyqvist: No, I hate it.

Eklund has a teenage daughter. You too are a father.

Nyqvist: I am very close to my children. Their education is complete, but I support my daughter and son a lot and try to be with them as often as possible.

Did your son or daughter ever want to follow in your footsteps?

Nyqvist: Thank god, no! There was a time when my daughter thought the job was something for her because it brought so many benefits and special treatment. But I explained to her that that does not make up the profession. But it is mainly about the big question of the meaning of life. And you try to solve this question in front of the camera.

You have a tattoo on the inside of your upper arm, would you explain to me what it means?

Nyqvist: Yes, sure: It is a child's drawing by my son and above it is the poem by Giuseppe Ungaretti: "M'illumino d'immenso" (in English: "I enlighten myself /through the immeasurable").