Thursday, February 28, 2013

Viking Chats With Marian Saastad Ottersen


In the March issue of Viking magazine, we feature Marian Saastad Ottesen, who stars as Sigrid in the hit Norwegian television show, "Lilyhammer." Viking's associate editor Anya Britzius caught up with the actor, who was busy filming Season 2 of the series and is available to North American audiences on Netflix.

Q: Did you want to be an actor from a young age?
A: All my life I wanted to be an actress, but when I was little it was a secret dream. None of my friends were into acting. But my aunt is an actress at Trøndelag theatre (in Trondheim), so every time I went to visit my cousin, we went to the theatre. I remember we always had to sit on the back row and be very quiet, but I still thought it was the most magical place to be!

Q: How would you describe playing your character, Sigrid?
A: I love playing Sigrid. I talked a lot with the director and the writers about her. It was important to keep Sigrid "normal" and a person the viewers could identify with. Many of the other characters are more out of this world and based on stereotypes about people from rural districts of Norway. It was important that the scenes between Sigrid and Frank (Steven Van Zandt) were more realistic and emotional to add some depth to the series and to make his character have something real to struggle for.

Q: How do you feel about all the success and attention “Lilyhammer” has garnered? 
A: I am so proud of being a part of “Lilyhammer”! I think we managed to make a truly original show, and I'm really surprised how it actually has such an appeal even outside of Norway. The show was never made to be broadcasted abroad. A Norwegian television show aired in the United States is usually completely unthinkable. A lot of the jokes are also very local, so I know many of them get lost in translation. Actually, it wasn't until late in the shooting process Netflix decided that Lilyhammer might work well in United States and Canada as well, and became co-producers. It was surrealistic to hear about how they made posters on New York bus stops and huge billboards on Sunset Strip in Hollywood to promote the show. I think the fact that we never made the show with all this in mind may also be the reason for its success. I hope we'll manage to keep the same weird and original mood in the show when we start to shoot Season 2.

Q: What is it like playing opposite Steven Van Zandt?
A: It’s fantastic! Almost all of my scenes in Season 1 were filmed with him, so we spent a lot of time together. Steven had a trailer on set, so between the shoots we used to sit there drinking coffee and talking about everything from his life as a member of the E-Street Band, “The Sopranos” and just the normal small things in life. Steven is a very down to earth and generous person who seems to be nice to absolute everyone he meets.

Q: What are your future career plans?
A: After Season 2 of “Lilyhammer” is shot I will go back to join the ensemble at the National Theatre. I hope I will still be able to do a little bit of everything in the future. In a small country like Norway where the production rate in the film industry is proportional with our own size, we don't make enough movies for an actor to make a living on just that. So it's quite common that we work on stage, in films and television shows. The good thing about it is that we get a lot of acting experience. We may do an Ibsen or Shakespeare play in the evening, while we shoot sitcoms during the daytime. So my dream is to try and ride that Scandinavian wave everybody's talking about, and see if it can bring me somewhere abroad.

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