Hollywood’s new “Hercules” film features three Norwegian actors, so local media have been packed with stories this week in the run-up to its general release in Oslo on Friday. All three Norwegians say they encountered major cultural differences on the American film set, as compared to working in Norway.
“It’s a tougher work environment than what we’re used to,” Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, who plays a soldier of fortune working for Hercules in the film, told newspaper Dagsavisen. “All the money involved (around NOK 700 million) can lead to a lot of fear and that leads to a completely different job culture. If you don’t deliver you’ll lose your job on the spot. It was interesting to observe all the fear swirling around in various situations.” She admitted that she did enjoy having her own trailer, though, while working on location in Budapest.
Berdal, age 34, is originally from Levanger and graduated from the state theater school in 2004. She won Norway’s “Hedda Prize” in 2005 as the best new actor when she was working for the Det Norske Teatret in Oslo. She’s also starred in the Norwegian Fritt vilt films and in several others including Sønner, De gales hus and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. “In Norway, everything is so democratic and we’re protected by so many labour laws,” Berdal told Dagsavisen. “That does something with how you are. It’s harder (in the US).”
Aksel Hennie, who played war hero Max Manus in the film by the same name a few years ago, also plays a hired soldier loyal to Hercules, played by American star Dwayne Johnson. Tobias Santelmann rounded off the Norwegian portion of the cast, but he has a “bad guy” role in the action film.
Santelmann agreed the contrast to working as an actor in Norway was huge: “I had just been appearing in a play at Giske in Ålesund, and came from that fine and folksey place to join a hundred-million-dollar project. The difference was extreme but I knew that Ingrid and Aksel were there and then it was so scary.” They could all speak Norwegian together, “but the support was most important.”
They were all in Oslo this week for the Norwegian premiere. Attending the premiere in Hollywood last week “was never a major goal of mine, but it was a big dream,” Hennie told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “So I feel one of my childhood dreams has been fulfilled.”
The film has been well-received in the US and the three Norwegians have received good reviews as well. In modest Norwegian style, none would say what that might mean for their careers. Berdal has been mentioned as a possible “Bond girl” in a new James Bond movie, but she says she has “lots of other balls in the air.” Johnson, the star playing Hercules, has reportedly told the Norwegians they’re “too humble,” but they admit to being rather proud of the good feedback so far and were a bit tense about how the film would be received back home in Norway.
“This is the kind of film people love to hate, but it’s had good reviews in the States and yeah, we’ve been mentioned,” Hennie told NRK. “It’s completely absurd, and lots of fun.”