Source: Sky.de [translated &
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
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
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
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
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
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
What did you do to him?
Nyqvist: Only so much: It was very
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
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
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
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
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
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
Did your son or daughter ever want to follow in your
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").