Kenneth Branagh's Life as Kurt Wallander

Ystads Allehanda, 30 May 2008
By Ulf Mårtensson
** Thanks Jonas for the translation

Kurt Wallander has stopped listening to opera. Kenneth Branagh explained this on Friday, when for the first time he met with press and media during the shooting of the three Wallander films for BBC.

- I have not seen any of the Swedish Wallander films. I wanted to have my on take on "Kört" said Kenneth Branagh during a meeting with the press at Ystad Studios.

He came straight from the shooting of "One Step Behind" in the Västra Sjöstaden neighborhood, just outside Ystad. It is a final scene that is being filmed in this "Friday sleepy" neighborhood where a murderer is on the loose.

Kenneth Branagh says the filming has been going as if on rails. Nothing has been made worse due to the nice and warm weather. Out of 12 weeks of shooting, they are now half way through. The British actor is surprised that the people of Ystad are so cool.

"They barely raise an eyebrow when we stomp in with a whole film crew and kick in the doors whilst wood splinters are flying everywhere."

Kenneth Branagh met with novelist Henning Mankell during the Bergman film festival on Fårö one year ago. This is when the idea to make the films materialized. Kenneth Branagh is fascinated by the Kurt Wallander character.

"He is an experienced Policeman who has not stopped caring about life and the big social issues."

"He is philosophical", says Branagh, who also finds his everyday problems with his daughter, father and love all make him human and interesting. "He is just as exciting a character as many other roles I have worked on", says Branagh who has portrayed all great Shakespeare roles.

Speaks English
The films take place in Ystad, or rather the film team's interpretation of Ystad. A micro cosmos where as usual in Mankell’s world we find beastly murders and other horrors. One curiosity is that they all speak English.

"You drive on the right side of the road", says producer Philip Martin. "The intent has always been to make the films in Mankell’s Ystad. The team wants to catch what can be exotic to a British audience".

Special Wallander editions of local newspaper Ystads Allehanda have been produced for the films. In Swedish. "We have tried to use words that can be understood by an English-speaking audience", explains producer Simon Mosely.

The tempo in the films is fast. "We wanted to do something absolutely thrilling that really catches the viewers", says Kenneth Branagh.

The Swedish TV audience will also see how this film team succeeds with this task. When is not known. The BBC will show the films at the end of the year.

And why doesn’t the British Wallander love opera? Well, it would have been too similar to Inspector Morse, something the British producers wanted to avoid.

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