Norwegian actors Ine Marie Wilmann and Pål Sverre Hagen have worked together on so many films and TV series that, Hagen quips, “It’s like a national joke now.” Their shared credits include the films DIANA’S WEDDING (DIANAS BRYLLUP), SONJA: THE WHITE SWAN, and I TRAVEL ALONE, and the Norwegian television series EXIT and WAR SAILOR (they also both had guest roles on the same season of DAG, but not the same episode).
Separately, Wilmann is one of the stars of the film TROLL (currently available on Netflix) and HOMESICK and the TV series DET TREDGE ØYET.
Hagen’s other projects include the films KON-TIKI (as famed explorer Thor Heyerdahl), AMUNDSEN (as polar explorer Roald Amundsen), THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB, and IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE.
Now Wilmann and Hagen are reunited in the Norwegian TV series FURIA. The first season is on the new streaming service Viaplay, which becomes available Wednesday, February 22. Viaplay showcases both Scandinavian series – everything from noir mysteries to YA content – and original programming.
FURIA’s first season aired in Scandinavia in 2021. Season 2 arrives on both European television and Viaplay in July of this year.
In FURIA, Hagen plays Aesgir, a Norwegian police detective who moves to a small rural town with his young daughter Michelle (Isabella Beatrice Lunda) and is assigned to the force there. It becomes clear that Aesgir’s background is more complicated than he makes it out to be.
This comes to light when Aesgir attempts to investigate a case of arson at the local refugee center. He crosses paths with Wilmann’s character Ragna, an undercover operative with the Norwegian government’s counterterrorism unit. Ragna is posing as a far-right activist, whose blog, “Furia,” is meant to help her infiltrate an ultra-nationalist, racist group that she believes is about to orchestrate a mass-casualty event.
Speaking from separate locations on the same Zoom call, Wilmann and Hagen talk about FURIA.
ASSIGNMENT X: You’ve both worked together often. When you got involved in FURIA, did either of you know the other one was doing it?
PÅL SVERRE HAGEN: Yes, that’s right. We’ve worked together many, many times, which is great.
INE MARIE WILMANN: Actually, Pål has even played my father at one point.
HAGEN: That’s right. With a lot of prosthetics, of course [laughs]. DIANA’S WEDDING is the title. It’s a fun movie.
WILMANN: And we also play together in this series that’s coming out on Netflix in the beginning of April, which is called THE WAR SAILOR.
AX: So, was one of the draws for you on FURIA that you knew your colleague was going to be in it?
HAGEN: For sure. It’s a base we can build on, in a much better way, because we know that we will at least have each other’s back, whatever happens, which is a good thing.
AX: You both have a lot of physical action in FURIA. Was there anything that either of you had to learn how to do for this project, either a particular style of fighting, or how to type very fast, or handling particular kinds of weapons, or how to type very fast?
WILMANN: Absolutely. All of the mentioned topics, actually [laughs]. On THE WHITE SWAN, the last thing I had done a physical transition before this series was to learn how to figure skate. So, I had been doing ballet and figure skating for years. And then I had to learn how to fight, and stab with a knife, and do all these things. So, it was a steep learning curve. But it was a lot of fun to be able to do that physical transition, and to be able to give the character a physical life of her own. I found it really helpful in the process.
AX: Did having the background in dance or skating choreography help you learn fight choreography?
WILMANN: Maybe, because they said I picked up on it really fast, and now I own my own boxing gloves, so I can really hook. But they also said that I was very eager. So, I managed to get a black eye and a broken rib during the shooting [laughs]. Me and Pål had some sessions together, because there were a lot of stunts we had to learn, and then, at least for me, it’s important to be able to feel that it’s automatic, the way she handles a gun or fights, that it’s believable, also to me, when I’m acting, so I don’t have to think about these things, they can just happen in my body.
HAGEN: Yeah. There are always preparations and, like Ine says, with all the physical stuff, that you work through it, and you work with good people, and if you’re lucky, you get to fight stunt people, which is always wonderful, because then they make you look good, they make you look like a real fighter. So, that’s what you want to happen. And we have a lot of good stunt people to help us out.
AX: Were either of you looking to be in something that deals with the topics of FURIA, the rise of far-right terrorism in terms of both hate speech and violent action?
HAGEN: Both of us, I think. The theme of this, it’s such a difficult and big topic, and I guess we both went into it hoping that, even though this is an entertaining thriller, that at least maybe it could spark some conversation around the kitchen table somewhere, and try to talk about how extremism in all forms, how it works, and how it influences our lives. So, I think we both hoped that.
WILMANN: Yeah. It was absolutely one of the biggest drawing points to work on the series, to know that it is an exciting political thriller, but it also has this target of saying something more, opening our eyes to some dark stuff going on, and maybe sugar the pill a little bit, to draw the people that wouldn’t watch heavy documentaries and read all these articles, maybe they can notice these topics in a different way, through entertainment.
HAGEN: Yeah. I think maybe the Americans have been better at using real situations and making fiction out of it, and I think that this was a chance for us as well to do that, to tell a story that has a direct link to reality.
AX: Did you learn anything about the situations covered in FURIA while you were working on it?
WILMANN: Absolutely. And that was a dark period of research, before we started shooting, because I went down this rabbit hole of documentaries and articles on this topic, so I learned a lot. I also followed this Austrian journalist, Julia Ebner, who has been writing books about these topics, and going undercover in both right extremism environments, and extreme Islam, and just starting to notice this war going on online, and in our societies, and notice the polarization. It’s very frightening, and some of the things that were written in the script actually happened while we were shooting. So, it felt important, but also really frightening.
AX: Did anything that you found out in your research affect how you play your characters?
HAGEN: Yeah. I think all the research shapes the final result. Ine and I have different assignments in this series, For my character, it’s more about exploring how these topics can find their way all the way into your family and your relationships, and where these things become personal in a way. Of course, it is for both the characters, but the backdrop of it is, like Ine says, when you go on these sites online that you didn’t know existed, and look into that world, it will make you think, and yes, it will also shape the character.
AX: There is reference made in FURIA to Ragna’s sister being murdered in the real-world mass shooting that happened at a summer youth camp on the Norwegian island of Utøya July 22, 2011. Almost seventy people were killed. Was that a turning point in Norway as far as how the government and the police view this type of violence?
WILMANN: Yes, I think so. I think also those kinds of terrorists are, at least here, they’re the ones that can go under the radar, because they often act alone, without all these big networks of people online, so they’re harder to notice before the bomb explodes. But it was absolutely a big turning point in Norway, and it still is a big national trauma.
AX: And what would both of you most like people to know about FURIA?
WILMANN: Oh. I think it takes you on a dark journey, and I think it’s going to take you some places that you don’t notice when you first start on it.
HAGEN: It starts in beautiful Norway, and spectacular nature, and then it finds its way into the heart of Europe, and maybe it feels like a Euro story, but it’s very much connected to the U.S. We’re all in this together, I think.
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Article: Exclusive Interview: Actors Ine Marie Wilmann and Pal Sverre Hagen chat about the new Norwegian thriller series FURIA