Claes Kaspar Bang graduated from the National Theatre School in Denmark. He has had roles in the theatre, on film and has been in many TV shows that fans of Nordic Noir will be familiar with : Unit One, Borgen, Anna Pihl and series 2 of The Bridge where he played Claudio the gigolo. He has just returned to Denmark from Sweden where he has been working on a new film and his stage play The Evil is part of Nordic Noir Double Take in London May 12th to 18th at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.
How would you define Nordic Noir?
This is an interesting question for someone Nordic, as it’s probably easier for someone outside to say in which way it stands out as special or Nordic.
The writing is very good, seen from an actors point of view I must say I’m very impressed with my colleagues, I think the acting is outstanding, directing is very good and the cinematography is perhaps a bit more daring than what you’re normally used to. But you can say that about a lot of great TV-series, so what is that specific Nordic touch? I’m not sure, my best answer is that it’s probably easier for someone non-nordic to answer.
What do you think has caused the great interest in Nordic Noir film/TV outside the Nordic countries recently?
I don’t think it started out: ‘Whoa!! It’s Nordic, it’s must be great!’ I think it’s because it is in every sense good. The writing is great, the acting is super good, directing is good, and it looks fabulous, I think it’s first and foremost a matter of really high quality, and then with that Nordic touch, that I’m having a hard time defining.
Shows such as The Killing and The Bridge were initially filmed for a home audience. How do you think their popularity will change the way TV series are made in the Nordic countries in the future?
I hope it will change nothing at all, I hope that we are smart enough to keep from speculating, and just go about our business as usual, keep up the good work.
With the recent popularity of all things Nordic, are you now more conscious of portraying Danish culture to the rest of the world through your work?
No, not really, I’m keeping my eye on the work and the story, and if in addition it portrays Danish or Nordic culture, it is fine, but I don’t see myself as an ambassador.
What was your experience of playing Claudio on series 2 of The Bridge like?
That was a very interesting character, because he was a little twisted and the whole universe of The Bridge was really inspiring, there’s a gloom and doom to the Bridge that I really like.
What are the best aspects of living and working in Denmark?
I really enjoy living and working in Denmark, I find the level of creativity is really high and inspiring, and there are an enormous amount of gifted and talented people working in theatre/film/tv here. And there’s a lot of attention these years from other countries, which is really great, and with my show in London in May I’m trying to benefit from that attention. But Denmark is also a quite small country, and there is a limit to how much is produced here. I also really enjoy working abroad, so I’ve been working a lot in Germany this past year, and I’ve just done some filming in Sweden as well.
You will be in London soon. Can you tell us about the play you are performing in?
It’s a monologue based on a novel by Jan Guillou, who Nordic fans will know as the author of the Hamilton and Coq Rouge characters. It is partly autobiographical, and tells the story of a boy, told by himself as a grown man. It is a personal and terrifying story about abuse and violence, based on the author’s experiences. Does one get evil, when exposed to evil? Or can you defy daily abuse and punishment, and stay pure hearted? I have performed the show more than 200 times over the last 10 years here in DK, last year I took it to South Africa, and now I’m very proud and exited to present in London and I’m hoping to take it to the Edinburgh festival at some time as well.
You can watch the trailer for The Evil here:
You can find out more about Nordic Noir Double Take at:
Interviewed by mvo