Actor Joachim Calmeyer was being mourned and hailed this week as among the “oldest and wisest” within Norwegian theater. Calmeyer died at his home at Grue in Hedmark on Monday after a short illness, at the age of 85.
Calmeyer was “one of Norway’s finest actors,” both on stage and in films, wrote critic Mode Steinkjer in newspaper Dagsavisen. “He was an actor with a completely unique ability to explore even the smallest roles, which in his interpretation became as visible as the major roles he played.”
Per Haddal, longtime film critic for newspaper Aftenposten, hailed Calmeyer’s “intensity and thorough professional work” in preparing for his roles. Haddal recalled how Calmeyer had played Romeo at Oslo’s National Theater in 1964 with Liv Ullmann in the role as Juliet: “Shakespeare at its best in Norwegian, an outpouring of playful talent and artistic suspense.” Heddal wrote how Ullmann, who 48 years later presented Calmeyer with Norway’s highest national honour for a performing artist, and Calmeyer were a perfect match. When Ullmann, “our most international star” according to Heddal, directed her Kristin Lavransdatter film in the 1990s, it was “only natural” that Calmeyer played the role of Sira Eirik.
Calmeyer himself was perhaps best known internationally for the award-winning and eccentric film Salmer fra kjøkkenet (Kitchen Stories), which took him to the mother of all international film festivals in Cannes in 2003, when he was already 71 years old. “You become so glad both inside and outside over being able to experience something like this,” Calmeyer told Norwegian reporters while smiling broadly from his deck chair in the sunshine, and telling the story of the admittedly strange Norwegian film success. He had the starring role in Kitchen Stories, which won him an international audience at a rather late age.
He appeared in both films, in more than 50 TV productions for state broadcaster NRK and, not least on stage. He performed for Rogaland Theater, Det Norske Teatret, Den Nationale Scene and Fjernsynsteatret, but worked mostly for the National Theater in Oslo. That’s where a memorial reception will be held for Calmeyer after his funeral on January 9 in Oslo.