Interview: False Trail & Wallander Star Rolf Lassgård

‘Maybe Sweden, this small safe place in the world, when it’s attacked with criminality it’s interesting.’

With icy Nordic thrillers all the rage in cinema, hitting UK screens on 14th December is False Trail.

Wallander star Rolf Lassgård returns to the role of the police investigator he played in 1996 film The Hunters, but False Trail (aka Jägarna 2) can stand alone as a thriller. Peter Stormare co-stars as the local policeman who gets involved in the investigation into a missing girl. Read our review here.

We met with Lassgård in London for a chat about the belated sequel and the current fascination with all things Scandinavian.

Can you tell us a little bit about False Trail?
We shot a film in 1996 called The Hunters (Jägarna), released in the cinema and a very big success. The producers wanted to do a second one, but the director said no to that. But after 16 years he found the story in a northern part of Sweden located close to the spot of the first movie. My character is the one left from the first one, Erik Bäckström. He had to go up and solve a very simple crime, and he doesn’t want to go up there. A girl is missing and he doesn’t want to go back to this part of Sweden, because of the memories of the first film. It’s a simple case, they say he’ll be back in two days. He will not be back in two days!

How has Erik changed?
He’s changed a lot, as he was a man who really wanted to go back to his roots, and back to his brother, the coldness and the freedom of nature. But it turned out the other way. In this film it’s the opposite - he doesn’t want to go back.

Was it difficult revisiting that character or was it easy to slip back into it?
No, not easy. Because the first one was a big success, there should not be a second - The Hunters 2. Always disappointment! This could be a possibility because of the 16 years. It made it interesting, what has been happening. It was thrilling to go back to the character. What has been happening in this time?

Can you relate to him at all?
I can relate to him, as like all the actors in the Hunter movies, all are born in the northern part of Sweden. All the actors are speaking in the northern dialect. I can relate to this thing, the roots. It’s a special place to have been living. The nature is something different.

You’ve played quite a few police detectives - do you have to do a lot of research?
In the beginning I did a lot of research… and also for the Wallander films. I got a good connection with a policeman, that I got a chance to call him up. I also have a friend that’s police, so that’s very nice. For example, for Wallander he’s not such a hero. I learned to work with a gun for the first one, and I said, Wallander is not so good with a gun, what should I do? ‘Close both of your eyes when shooting!’ So a lot of small tips!

Your co-star Peter Stormare is pretty well known to American audiences - is that something you’d like to pursue?
I would love to, but I’m not ready to move to LA. I’m too old for that! I filmed over here once, but it was still with an English director who lives in Sweden!

Do you think it’s important for people to have someone they recognise in a subtitled film? For example Peter, or they know you from Wallander?
Yeah, maybe. It’s hard for me to answer. In Sweden we’re just used to subtitled movies, it’s not a big deal. I’ve been working a lot in Germany and it’s impossible to have a subtitled movie, they have to be dubbed.

Why do you think foreign audiences are so fascinated with Scandinavian thrillers right now?
I don’t know… Actually, it’s a tradition we have with storytelling that started in the late Sixties. A couple of writers started to write novels about policemen - Sjöwall/Wahlöö - good books placed in society, another way to describe crime. That tradition continued to work, for instance with Henning Mankell [Wallander]. Maybe Sweden, this small safe place in the world, when it’s attacked with criminality it’s interesting.

What are you up to next?
The plan is to shoot two more Sebastian Bergman movies. I hope we do that in the beginning of next year. I also shot a film about the murder of Olof Palme, our Prime Minister, in 1986.