The Killing 2: Sofie Grabol at BAFTA

“I don’t think he did it.”

Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol) is back in a second series of The Killing, which begins on BBC4 at 9pm on Saturday Nov 19, with the second episode at 10pm.

The first season of this Danish crime drama was a phenomenon when it was screened in the UK with English sub-titles earlier this year.

I missed it first time around, so bought the DVD box set.

And ended up watching all 20 episodes in the space of four days.

Created by writer Soren Sveistrup, it’s one of the most compelling dramas I have ever seen.

Last night I was invited to a London preview screening of The Killing II episode one.

Hosted by BAFTA together with the Embassy of Denmark in London.

Followed by a Q&A with Sofie and senior producer Piv Bernth.

Who received quite an ovation as they sat down on stage.

Sofie Grabol as Sarah Lund.

I’m pleased to report that the second series looks every bit as engaging as the first.

Hopefully you won’t discover any major spoilers in this blog.

Other than to say that we find Sarah far from Copenhagen in the opening episode.

Working the night shift as a police officer at a remote cargo ferry port in southern Denmark.

Back in Copenhagen a woman has been murdered in strange circumstances.

Left tied to a post in Memorial Park, a national landmark.

Sarah’s former boss Brix sends word south. He wants her opinion on what looks like a simple domestic killing.

Meanwhile a new Justice Minister is being sworn in as some in Denmark fear terrorist reprisals for their involvement in Afghanistan.

As a soldier recovering from a nervous breakdown hopes to be released from a secure psychiatric unit.

There’s lots more darkness, torches and rain.

Along with a script that had the hairs tingling on the back of my neck.

Here’s my transcription of last night’s post-screening Q@A with Sofie and Piv, chaired by Neil Midgley.

As you’ll read below, we had confirmation that The Killing III – currently in production – will be the last series.

That’s due on screen in Denmark in the autumn of 2012 and, hopefully, here soon afterwards.

Sofie spoke about her forthcoming cameo appearance in the return of Absolutely Fabulous.

Among many other things, including those jumpers – and how her trademark Faroese sweater was almost killed off for this second run.

She also discussed life after Sarah Lund.

Asked if she would like to act in Britain, Sofie replied: “I’d love to come and work here.”

There’s also a postscript at the bottom of this blog from the Danish Ambassador to London who told the preview audience:

“Detective Sarah Lund wears a woolen jumper that was last considered fashionable on the Left Wing scene in the Seventies…”


Neil Midgley, Sofie Grabol and Piv Bernth at BAFTA

Neil Midgley: “I wanted to get to the really important questions first. That is a red sweater? (in first ep) What are you doing in a red sweater?”

Sofie Grabol: “Well actually, to tell you the truth, when we had finished the first one, I never considered there to be a second. Obviously you (Piv) and the writer did. Nobody told me. And then when you asked me to do a second one, actually at first I thought, ‘No. Why?’ But then after a while – and Soren had a really great story – I thought, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ And then when I met people, friends, or just people in the street, and they said, ‘How are you and what are you up to these days?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m actually going to do a second season of The Killing.’ The reaction was, everytime, ‘Are you going to wear the jumper?’ The first question every time. (laughter) And I got so…who cares? Why don’t you ask me what’s going to happen to your character or to the story? And every time that question. And you felt the same way. I have, you know, a mix – I love that sweater and I hate it because I felt it’s so strong that it’s almost wearing me more than the opposite. So we had a meeting when we were supposed to start the second season, where we said to each other, ‘They’re not going to get the jumper out, no?’ Never give the audience what they want. So, of course, we had to put her in the jumper because she can’t change. I mean, she is who she is. So we chose this red jumper and I felt very strongly that we shouldn’t go back to…if something works you should never go back to it. But then I must also admit that after five episodes (Piv: “Three or four episodes, I think.”) I stepped into your (Piv) office, saying, ‘OK, I’ve got to get my jumper back!. I can’t wear this red jumper, it’s impossible to wear. I’ve got to get the old one back.’ So I tried to escape the jumper. That’s why it was red today.

Piv Bernth: “You can see the brown with the white pattern on it is in one of the first shots in her home. Because we thought we were going to put it in there and just keep it there on the chair and never get it on again. But it crawled on to her.”

Sofie Grabol: “It’s a strong jumper.”

Neil Midgley: “So, of course, over here in the UK the audience has only been aware of The Killing since the beginning of this year when the first season was transmitted. But this is a project that’s been going on now since 2004, was the initial conception. Started shooting in 06, transmitted in Denmark in 07.”

Piv Bernth: “Yes. The second season in Denmark in 2009.’

Neil Midgley: “So there was a two year gap between the screenings of the first and second series. But it has been a hugely popular series in Denmark. So was there in your mind, Piv, a doubt about whether it would come back?”

Piv Bernth: “Well, I can say that when Soren Sveistrup started off this project, actually by the end of 2003, where we had started working on it by the end of 2004, we were thinking about this could be a trilogy about this character. But we never mentioned it to anyone because we hadn’t got enough to do it. So we thought that if it’s going well with the first season we might go into the next one. And if that was possible, it would be nice to finish off the story about Sarah Lund and her character. So we’ve been taking one step at a time. We have 20 episodes. It went well. We had the 10 episodes in the second season. And now we’ve got the nerve to go on and do another 10 episodes, which will be The Killing III, which will be in Denmark next Fall.”

Neil Midgeley: “And on BBC4 immediately afterwards, I’m assuming.” (laughter)

Piv Bernth: “Let’s hope so.”

Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol) and Ulrik Strange (Mikael Birkkjaer)

Neil Midgeley: “So what were the conversations that you had with Soren Sveistrup, the chief writer, in thinking about season two? Because it’s a different vibe isn’t it? Immediately already in episode one we have the national government rather than the mayoralty of Copenhagen, which obviously was in the first series. We have Afghanistan. We have the military. That, obviously, is an intentional stepping up of the level of drama?”

Piv Bernth: “Yes. We go from the local to the national point of view in the story. But I think it all went off when we finished off the first season, when Sarah Lund left the police headquarters. Everybody kept asking us, ‘Where is she going?’ And we said, ‘We don’t know. She’s just going.’ And then we asked Sofie, ‘Where’s she going?’ And Sofie said, ‘I don’t know.’ Sofie was thinking that this was the end of The Killing. And then we tried to find out where is she going? What happened to her? What did this first Nanna Birk Larsen case, what did that do to her? And then we started out and found her, somewhere in the outskirts of Denmark.”

Neil Midgley: “So where is that? Where is she?”

Piv Bernth: “That is at the very south border of Denmark. A very foreign-built place where I was born very close to…so I do know what we’re talking about here. It’s a very remote…when you come from Germany with the ferries and it’s sort of a cargo harbour. It’s a very, very remote place. But she’s at her lowest point. She’s still having some sort of guilt because Jan Meyer was killed. And then we have to face her opponent – this time would be some of the heaviest, biggest institutions, like the military and the national government. So when she was at the lowest, we have to go at the highest. So we have the contrast.”

Neil Midgley: “Did you just sign up instantly on the dotted line, Sofie, and say – yes I want to do season two? Or did you have to think about it?”

Sofie Grabol: “No, I had to think about it. But also I never did a follow up. I’ve been an actor since I was 17 and it’s so much in your bones as an actor that you get married to a project, you get extremely involved and engaged in a project and it’s finished and you leave it. Then you marry another project. And the whole thought for me of going back to something that I actually was…I think that it worked and I thought was beautiful and I loved the ending, actually, of the first one. I thought it was, yeah, beautifully ended. I liked that open, no winners, everyone wounded and all the question marks at the end, I liked. So I thought, ‘No, you should never repeat yourself.’ If something works then you should try something else. You should always challenge yourself.”

Neil Midgley: “Even though it was so popular?”

Sofie Grabol: “Because it was so popular.”

Neil Midgley: “What kind of viewing figures did season one get in Denmark? It was like half the population?”

Piv Bernth: “We had an average share of 65 per cent of the audience. (gasps from audience) That’s a lot.”

Neil Midgley: “Take that Downton Abbey.” (laughter)

Piv Bernth: “And the final episode actually had a share of I think 73 or something. Everybody was watching this. Even people who didn’t watch the show, they wanted to see the final episode because everybody was guessing who the killer was.”

Neil Midgley: “And then you (Sofie) thought – I’m not going to do that again?”

Sofie Grabol: “Yeah. No, it’s more out of respect, actually. Maybe also out of the fear of failing. I don’t know. That’s also a side of it, I guess. Because you can’t live up to other people’s expectations and your own are probably the worst. So maybe it was out of fear. Yeah, so maybe it was out of fear. No, I was reluctant. But then I had some meeting with you (Piv) and Soren, our writer – Sveiiistropp is the right pronunciation (smiles) – and he has the same view on his work. I think we understand each other very well. Because he never wants things to be easy and I had a very strong sense that he had a story and he was going to make sure that we wouldn’t fall in a sort of routine or fall asleep creatively. That can’t happen with him. So I thought, ‘Well, yeah, I’ll go along with him.’”

Neil Midgley, Sofie Grabol and Piv Bernth.

Piv Bernth: “And the funny thing was that he actually had the story before we finished editing the last episode of the first season, Soren had this story and he pitched it to me and we discussed it. And then we went for a holiday with our respective families – he went to Thailand and I went to Argentina. And then because of the time difference we tried to get hold of each other all the time because we had to discuss this idea. And when we finally got home and we just sat up – and said we’re definitely going to do this. Because it was a very, very good story. And then the work started persuading Sofie to do it. So it had to come out this story, I think. We really wanted to tell.”

Neil Midgley: “Something which is unusual about the form of The Killing, from a British drama point of view, is just the length of the episode run. 20 episodes of a nine o’clock premium quality drama. We just don’t get that length of run here. Obviously Soren created the first season in that 20 episode arc. Was that part of his creative conception, that he wanted it to run for so long?”

Piv Bernth: “Yes. His urge was, again, to try and follow an investigation in real time, more or less, and then go into the victim’s point of view as well. How does it seem from the victim’s family? And that was a very new thing at that time. And when we pitched the story to Danish Broadcasting they were very confident in us, so they sort of said, ‘Try it. Let’s see what happens.’ But there were pitches to colleagues and friends and they said, ‘You can’t do one killing in 20 episodes. That’s ridiculous. Nobody’s going to watch it. Because all the viewers, they just go from one to the other. So they’re never going to follow one story.’ But we insisted. And then, of course, we had the possibility of killing someone. If it didn’t work, we had some killings ready. (laughter) But we really tried to keep it…I think the quality of the writing Soren did was so excellent that there was no doubt in our minds that this was going work. The tremendous success like here in the UK is really something special. But the quality of his work and his way of writing is unique, I think.”

Neil Midgley: “Something else which is unique about The Killing is this level of detail…(edited to remove episode one spoiler). That’s quite courageous, isn’t it, to take a script for 20 episodes which relies on these tiny little details changing?”

Piv Bernth: “It is.”

Neil Midgley: “In the American version, it was much more impressionistic. They’d lost a lot of that forensic detail, in the American re-make. Did you both like the American re-make? Did you watch it?”

Sofie Grabol: “You (Piv) did. I didn’t.”

Piv Bernth: “I’ve seen five or six episodes of it. I haven’t seen it all yet. When they finish it – they’re starting to shoot the last 10 episodes of the first season now, and when they’ve done it all together I’m going to have the box set and watch them all. Because in Denmark it’s broadcast with, I think, five commercial breaks and that’s impossible to watch. So I got the first five episodes from the Americans and I watched it. I like it. I think they’ve been very true to the original. Of course they’ve done something different but you could feel that they were doing some sort of very American, Technicolor, fast car, high-speed drama. But they have actually been very true to the pace and the way the story is told and the characters. Bits and pieces of changes but not that much. So I think they’ve done it in great respect for the original, which is fine.”

Neil Midgley: “And, of course, one of the narrative benefits of the 20 episode run, Sofie, is that we could see in season one Sarah Lund just gradually being more and more tortured as her life got narrower and narrower. She lost her boyfriend, her son disappeared, her mother…she ended up being this lonely, demented heroine, stealing guns in police cars. Without spoiling the plot, but there isn’t anything left to take away, is there, from Sarah Lund in season two?”

Sofie Grabol: “No. We struggled with that, actually. What are we going to strip her of? No, I think because it’s only 10 episodes and the plot, I think I can say, is much more complex than the first season, then the plot is the main focus. But I think that we took her – without revealing too much – into…our task for ourselves was to see how much into her own darkness…how far into her own darkness could we get.”

Piv Bernth: “It is a kind of compact story for her. Because she starts in this remote outskirts of Denmark and she’s coming back into the Copenhagen area…”

Sofie Grabol: “But actually it’s hard. And I think we’re dealing with that dilemma even more now we’re doing the third season. And that’s how I feel anyway, that when we start a new story I want to know more about her or get to know her better. And on the other hand I don’t. I don’t want to know too much. Personally, I like that she’s so…even though she’s a very strong character, she has some very strong characteristics, she’s also to me almost transparent somehow. There’s so much you don’t know about her. It’s a bit like the duster on the butterfly wings? I’m afraid that if I we know too much about her then…I like her mystery, her secrets.”

Piv Bernth: “The thing is, we had a terrible dilemma when we start shooting the third season two or three months ago, because we had to give her a home. For the first time she has her own home. In the beginning of the first season she packed her stuff on her way to Sweden. She’s been living with her mother ever since, apart from this tragic house in southern Denmark. But she leaves that and she never comes back. But she’s bought a house now in the third season. And we had this enormous problem, how does she live? What does it look like? What has she got around her? Apart from the sweaters all over. But don’t tell too much about her but even so we have to characterise her in a way because she has got some stuff. But, you know, that was really a tough discussion because the production designer really wanted to show who she was. And everybody was screaming, ‘No, no, no, don’t tell, don’t tell. And who is she anyway? How do you know?’ So it was a very big problem and now we try to fix it. There’s a lot of moving boxes. That’s good.”

Neil Midgley: “This second season is a 10-episode run. We want another 20 episodes a year?”

Piv Bernth: “Because this story, as Sofie said before, is very complex and very intense and it suits the story very nice to be only 10 episodes. And I think, to be honest, that the first 20 episodes there were some episodes, they were a little repetitive. They were really. So I think the tension of 10 episodes is very, very good. And it’s the same for the third season. It will be the same, 10 episodes.”

Sofie Grabol: “But you can put them together and then you have 20.” (laughter)

Neil Midgley: “And you, Piv, are adamant that this third run that you are filming at the moment is going to be the last? I’m not sure that we can accept that.”

Piv Bernth: “That’s fair enough. But even so…”

Neil Midgley: “What can we say to change your mind?”

Piv Bernth: “I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to Sofie, really. Because I think she has the same feeling. And I think Soren, he has had this trilogy in his head all the time and he really wanted to tell the story and finish it. He had some plans for her. And I think you can’t, if you’ve got these plans…maybe in 20 years? We never know. But not in the coming future, no.”

Sofie Grabol: “You could end up like Miss Marple…like The Mousetrap here in London.”

Piv Bernth: “It’s better to stop now when everybody wants more. That’s good.”


Sofie also appeared on BBC2's Newsnight last night.

Neil then threw open questions to the audience:

Q: Can you talk about the third series which is now filming – presumably the first one you’ve done in the knowledge that it’s been an international success. Has that changed anything?

Piv Bernth: “Well it has given some pressure on the writing process and in the storylining and we’ve really tried hard to keep it out. We really tried to have a tunnel vision of what we’re doing. But even being here means something. Because, of course, it is distracting once in a while. But we try really not to make it influence the way we work because we’re very good at going into our own circles and into the series and don’t let anything disturb it. But I think when we had the BAFTA we were so impressed, we were so happy, we were so proud. So really it turned us upside down for a period. But I think we’ve gotten back on our feet now.”

Q: So did that have any impact on your decision to make this the last series?

Piv Bernth: “No – that was decided long before.”

Sofie Grabol: “No because that was before…but I agree with Piv. But that’s always the task when you’re working. You know that at some point there’s going to be an audience, whether you do theatre or TV or film, that that whole balance between staying in your own…being true to the story and to your own investigation, because the minute you start thinking about, ‘Is this a success, is this a failure, is this…?’ it’s like you lose your focus. So that’s really always the challenge. And, of course, we’re challenged on that because of the BAFTA. We have to hide it away.”

Neil Midgley: “Piv hid her BAFTA very effectively by leaving it in a cab…”

Piv Bernth: “Don’t mention that. I’m so embarrassed! I’m ashamed.” (smiles)

Q: (I asked this one): Can I ask Sofie to talk a little bit about the way the scripts are written and delivered for The Killing and whether it helps her retain that mystery about what’s to come for the character?

Sofie: “Yeah. Thank you for asking that question because, actually…I’m happy about the character and the character keeps fascinating me. The reason why I stay on this project is actually because it’s created in a very unique way. In the sense that the writer, Soren Sveistrup, writes as we go along. Meaning that we only shoot one episode at a time and while we’re shooting that he’s writing on the next one. And that to me is an extremely…of course it’s a challenging way of working because…and I must say it’s not like we know nothing about where the story is going. There is, of course, a structure and I know, you know, the skeleton, the big lines. But I think that any creative person working in a creative field will have to always train that muscle of saying, ‘Yes.’ If I should describe what is the essence of the work, it really is saying ‘yes’ to…and it sounds so easy, it sounds banal. But I actually mean that so often – and I’m often the noysayer as well. Every time you meet some barrier in yourself or some fear or some embarrassment or whatever, you say ‘No.’ And dialogue shuts down and creativity shuts down. And to me, this way of working where you can’t…I think if we had gotten the 10 episodes, if I had them in a nice pile on my table and I read them all through, I think it would be very hard not to fix on, ‘Well, I’m going from this point to this point. Then I see my journey like this.’ And I would settle on that decision. And it would be harder to maybe move me from that.

“And I think this way of working, which really is dictated by our writers insisting on allowing the story to be able to move freely, actually helps everyone else. I think the level of creative atmosphere is very high on The Killing and I think that’s the reason. But, of course, it’s also I must say, because even though I praise it a lot, because the whole luxury is also because the writer, even though he’s very strong-minded, he knows what he wants and he knows what direction he wants the story to go in. And it is totally his story. He is so self-confident that he doesn’t feel threatened by other people’s ideas and opinions. Actually it’s more the other way around. I have been to some script meetings – we get a new episode, like on a Friday, and then the main cast and the director and Piv and the writers, we gather and read it through. And then after that we have meetings with the writers where the word is free and I can suggest anything or comment anything or object to anything. And he will listen and he will take what he thinks is useful and the rest he won’t use. And there have been a few meetings where he’s said, ‘Well, what do you think?’ And I’ve said, ‘Well, I think it’s good.’ And then he gets totally uncomfortable. So he actually wants to be pushed and for me, of course, as an actor it’s a luxury to be able to work so closely with the writer.”

Neil Midgley: “That very famous scene from near the end of series one where you were in the back of the police car being driven away and you end up stealing the gun from the driver’s holster and holding it to his head, that was actually your idea, wasn’t it?”

Sofie Grabol: “No. But that’s actually a beautiful example of how it works. Because Soren had written…of course when you get to the end of the crime story everybody is more involved because we’re excited and how’s he going to end it? And who’s the killer? And I was a bit disappointed when I read that…because I remember that when we gathered and read it, that he had put the men in the woods and they were like dealing with it. I think I was written to be over at Pernille’s (Birk Larson) house, just talking and maybe making phone calls? I don’t know. I remember being frustrated. I thought, ‘You can’t be serious…’”

Piv Bernth: “You wanted to fire a gun, that’s what it was…she didn’t fire.” (smiles)

Sofie Grabol: “No! I remember we had a very animated discussion about my character and that episode. But I just remember saying, ‘She has to be active. I can’t just sit there.’ First he got very offended and ‘what rubbish’. And then he sat for a while just thinking. Some other people in the room discussed it and then he suddenly said, ‘I think she’s going to pull up a gun and take her colleague, not a hostage but…’ And I remember saying, ‘No, no, no, no, no. That’s not believable. No, no, no. That’s way too…’ But that’s how it ended.”

Piv Bernth: “That’s her Jack Bauer moment.”

Sofie Grabol: “Yeah. So it wasn’t really my idea. But his idea came out of maybe my frustration…”

Q: We saw a scene in the first episode there where you’re running through the rain chasing a bad guy. It looks very grim to have filmed. How grim was it? And can you tell us about some of the other scenes in this new series that were especially challenging and difficult to film?

Sofie Grabol: “Running in the rain. That’s hard when you’ve past 40!”

Piv Bernth: “We shot the first bit with the heavy rain when they arrived in the car. We shot that one night. And because the director wanted all this rain, he had too much rain, so he couldn’t control the set and everything went wrong because of all this rain we had coming down. We had brought the rain in with some guys in who made the rain for us. And then we lost two or three hours in that. So we had to go back another night to shoot the running of the trains. And we couldn’t afford the rain again because it’s very expensive to have rain. So we decided – forget about the rain. But then when we saw it in the editing room, we thought, ‘God, this is never going to happen. It’s not going to work.’ Because it rains in in one shot and it doesn’t rain in the other one. And it was so heavy rain. So we had to use a fortune to make artificial rain. So this is artificial rain in two thirds of that running scene. So the running was actually easier in the second part of the scene because there was no rain. And then we put it on afterwards. Very expensive rain.”

Sofie Grabol: “Can I say that we filmed in Spain? (It doubles for Afghanistan) Later on in the season we went to Spain, they have a desert there where they filmed all the Spaghetti Westerns. And it was so hot that I can’t…and that jumper. (laughter) I can’t believe that…that was hot. But it’s more a physical thing.”

Neil Midgley: “Did it itch?”

Sofie Grabol: “I never thought that jumper itched. No. I feel at home in that jumper.”

Q: I wonder why you translated – because I think the original (Forbrydelsen) the word means ‘The Crime’…and, of course, in the first series and I’m sure in the second series too that there are, apart from the central crime, there are many other past crimes or implications of crimes, why did you actually translate it to The Killing for beyond Denmark? What was the thinking of that?

Piv Bernth: “Because we thought it was more catchy than The Crime. For a Dane, The Crime seems very abrupt in a way. And I think, as I remember, there is an old film from the Thirties which is a very cult-like film, which Soren liked very much. And that’s whey he said, ‘I think I’ll name it after that. We’re going to name it The Killing.’ But the odd thing is that the Americans have chosen the same title. Which is very weird for us. They wanted to change it, which I thought was very wise to do. But then they went back to the original. So they have the same title on their show as we have on our international. That’s strange. We came first.”

Neil Midgley: “Talk about the reverse translation. Because the word ‘Killing” in Danish…”

Sofie Grabol: “Means kitten.”

Neil Midgley: “We’re watching The Kitten?”

Sofie Grabol: “Well I think it’s very appropriate because that’s how we feel. You have taken us in.”

Piv Bernth: “If you translate The Killing into Danish – that is the title of a Danish movie, feature film, which is very popular just a year before we started airing in Denmark. So we couldn’t call it that. So there was sort of a mix of different things that came out and ended up with The Killing.”

Morten Suurballe as Lennart Brix

Q: Sofie, are you really doing Absolutely Fabulous and have you had any more approaches from British…”

Sofie Grabol: “From British sitcom?”

Q: General television?

Sofie Grabol: “Really I just…it was more like a visit. Yeah, they filmed some of it. (laughs) No, that’s what I’ve done. I’d love to do…if the right…if it was a challenge – of course it would be a challenge just to try to speak English. I mean acting in English. And going somewhere where…yeah, it would be a challenge. So I’d love to come and work here.”

Q: Isn’t it very brave of Danish film-makers to take on Islamic terrorism?

Piv Bernth: “Yes, but then again I think you should see the next coming episodes. Because I will wonder if that’s a problem in this. I don’t think so. It’s not about Islamic terrorism. The tag line of this second season is more than how much do you bend democracy to defend?”

Q: When Soren Sveistrup brings you the scripts, does he bring you 10 finished scripts or are they worked out in the course of…

Sofie Grabol: “We wish.”

Piv Bernth: “Yeah, we wish. That’s a dream. No. It’s actually, as Sofie said before, we are storylining, writing, shooting and editing at the same time. So just now we are editing episode one and two of the third season. We are writing three and four – writing three, storylining four. That’s the truth. And then we have some re-shoots of the first and second episode as well. So there’s a lot of things going on.”

Q: I’m afraid I have to ask about knitwear. Do you have a new jumper for season three?

Sofie Grabol: “Yes.”

Q: What’s it like?

Sofie Grabol: “Well, you’ll have to wait and see.”

Q: Sofie, I wondered if you’d had any offers from Hollywood and also how do you feel about moving on from Sarah Lund?

Sofie Grabol: “No, I haven’t had any offers from Hollywood. Well, actually, I’ve always been very privileged in Denmark, moving freely between theatre and film and television and different genres. Played everything from Shakespeare and Strindberg and Ibsen to farce and comedy and modern plays. And actually in between the different seasons of The Killing I’ve done theatre and other things. So I don’t feel stuck. I hope there’s a life after Sarah for me.” (smiles)

Q: Wonderful performance, Sofie. She’s a very dysfunctional character. She seems to alienate a lot of people. She’s fallen out with her boyfriend and her son and her mother, why do we still warm to her do you think?

Sofie Grabol: “I think because of that, actually. I like that she is drawn more by her lack of relations than by her relations. And I like that. For me as an actor, the door I enter into a character is always the things they can’t do and the weaknesses and all the areas in which they are dysfunctional. And I think it’s the same door that an audience enters through a character. I mean, if you have a perfect, harmonic, strong, beautiful character then how do you identify first of all and how do you…? Yeah. So I think most actors have this strange, sadistic relationship to your character. You want them to hurt actually and you want them to be put in difficult positions. You don’t want the best for them.”

Piv Bernth: “When you storyline an episode, for instance, you always go like, ‘What is the worst thing that could ever happen to her now?’ And then when you think about it – and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Q: One of the things I noticed about The Killing is that it’s very hi-tech. It’s always about links on the internet, emails, phone calls. Is that deliberate or is it just that it makes it easier to write the plot?

Piv Bernth: “Well, I think that we consider The Killing as a very low-tech series. Yes, we do this link on the internet. There is all those mobile phones which is really sometimes too much. You (Sofie) always complain about too many phone calls (Sofie nodded). That’s right. But that’s part of modern life. You can’t ignore that. And I think compared to a lot of other crime shows, we’re very low-tech because we don’t use all those kind of things and gadgets and stuff. We have this link and that’s all we have and then we have all those.”

Sofie Grabol: “Just check out Sarah’s mobile. It’s antique.” (laughs)

Piv Bernth: “So we think of ourselves as a very low-tech series. We don’t go into any kind of modern communication or the way they solve the crimes is not done by any modern techniques or anything. She’s actually taking notes with a pencil and on paper. It’s not an iPad. The politicians have but not the police.”


The Danish Ambassador to London, Anne Hedensted Steffensen, was among those who spoke before the screening:

“Most of us gathered here tonight would agree that the first series of The Killing had such tension and expectation that you just had to see the next episode.

“The first series was a great success in the UK. It was praised by critics. It won several prizes, including a BAFTA award, which doesn’t happen that often to Danish television series, I have to say. And created a large base of very dedicated fans.

“But perhaps more surprisingly, The Killing has also been a huge PR scoop for Denmark. It has created an exciting buzz about our capital, Copenhagen, Danish fashion, Danish design and Danish crime fiction.

“And let me be honest. On paper it did not look like a perfect case for nation branding. (laughter) The first series centres on the murder of a young woman. A large part is filmed in a dark and rainy Copenhagen. Detective Sarah Lund wears a woolen jumper that was last considered fashionable on the Left Wing scene in the Seventies.

“It is not exactly another Danish fairy tale. But in some remarkable way, it actually worked. Bloggers started blogging about it, journalists wrote page after page about it and viewers got hooked and wanted to know much more about Denmark.

“We are, of course, very delighted that all of this has happened and we hope that The Killing II will be received with similar enthusiasm.

“And I have to say, it makes it a lot easier to be the Danish Ambassador when you can start by saying, ‘I’m from the country of The Killing.’”

She concluded: “Thanks to all British fans who have been so extremely positive and suppportive.”

The Killing II: BBC4 9pm and 10pm Saturday November 19

BBC 4 The Killing Series One


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