von Simon Born und Nicole Huber
Mit NORTHMEN – A VIKING SAGA ist seit dem 23. Oktober in mancher Hinsicht ein interessantes Kinoprojekt auf der deutschen Leinwand zu sehen. Der Film handelt von einer Gruppe verbannter Wikinger, die an der Küste Schottlands stranden, die Tochter eines schottischen Königs entführen und daraufhin von dessen Schergen gejagt werden. Gedreht wurde das Action-Abenteuer vor den stimmungsvollen Landschaften Südafrikas. Für seine deutsch-schweizerische Koproduktion versammelte Regisseur Claudio Fäh einen beeindruckenden Cast internationaler Schauspieler, darunter den Australier Ryan Kwanten (TRUE BLOOD) sowie den Schweden Jonah Hegg, der sich als Frontmann der Metal-Band Amon Amarth nicht nur schauspielerisch, sondern auch musikalisch am Filmprojekt beteiligte.
Anlässlich der RingCon 2014 trafen wir drei der Hauptdarsteller zu einem kurzen Gespräch: Tom Hopper, Ken Duken und Anatole Taubman. Das perfekt aufeinander eingespielte Trio machte dieses Wochenende auf der Fantasy-Convention ordentlich Werbung für seinen Film. Mit NEGATIV redeten die drei über ihre persönliche Bindung zum Projekt, der Teamarbeit am Set und Charlie Murphy:
What was your main motivation to join the project? Was there a specific aspect that made you wish to be involved while reading the script?
Ken Duken: It was the moment I got the script. There was no reason not to do it. I have got that little boy in me who wants to come out and play. This is like playing cowboy and Indians or in that case Vikings as a grown up in front of a professional background.
Tom Hopper: Yeah. Same thing. I liked watching movies like this as a kid, action films of the eighties and stuff. I remember calling my mom while shooting and she asked how it was going. I answered that I literally was living my dream playing an action hero. What’s better than that? There is only one thing that would be better: if they would turn me into an action figure.
Anatole Taubman: I’ve never done an action adventure film. I am a boy like Ken. Wicki und die starken Männer was my series. PRINZ ARCO was the audio cassette I was listening to. I am part of the Playmobil-generation, I played with knights. So it was a childhood’s dream, a boy’s dream come true. Ken and I received the script years before. Already back then when I flipped it through, it was a page turner for me. I said immediately yes. It took another three, four years for the film to be financed. I didn’t hear from the filmmakers. When they came last February back to me and said they got the money together and they wanted to do this, I said great. I wanted to be a part of that. And I will always treasure the experiences I made during this project.
You are all quite experienced actors who did several film projects. Do you think there was something peculiar about this one? What especially did you like?
Ken Duken: Actually the pitch is very simple: It is a film about a bunch of Vikings that are shipwrecked behind their enemy’s lines and then just go for it. Similar to the Vikings, we actors experienced that we really could rely on each other on set. We didn’t get annoyed by each other one single day. Yet sometimes we started thinking that this project is going to be LOST IN LA MANCHA 2. But then you see the finished film and all the memories come back, you are proud of what you have achieved. You can’t plan success or a big audience. But I’ve done the film that I want to see, so if other people like it I am really happy.
So would you say that the development of the characters somehow mirrors the development of the actors as well? Growing together as a crew…
Ken Duken: In the case of my character Thorald, I’d say 50 percent of my job was done by Tom. Thorald is a quiet, mysterious character, so I needed to get those looks from Tom that define our relationship. Similarly, the role of the king is established by the other actors in his scenes. If you screamingly enter a room and everyone goes quiet – ok, that’s an impact. But if you just enter the room and everyone in it becomes quiet on their own – that’s some serious impact. So the other actors are playing your character as well. There was no rivalry, everyone worked for each other. And I think you can see that on the screen.
Anatole Taubman: I think you don’t survive in film if you have too much of an ego. A certain ego we all need, regardless of what profession we work in. It’s important for a human being’s psyche basically. But filming is teamwork, it is team spirit. And on such a tight budget and so few filming days – we did this whole film in forty days, our days were often 14 to 16 hours – you have to stick together as one. You have to function as a clockwork, as a Swiss clockwork, where every single bit is important to make that clock going. I think we did that to perfection. We put our egos back and worked together as a bunch of Vikings.
Ken Duken: The guy with an ego would have died in this film.
Anatole Taubman: I think I have never emotionally invested so much in a project.
Tom Hopper: I approach every project with the same ethics and commitment. As it goes on you see that everyone around you has that same commitment or certain people that are not as committed or are phoning it or making a half-ass effort. It was very clear that very early on this project everyone was in the same place. I think this really started with Claudio, because his commitment for the project just filtered down to all the actors.
Anatole Taubman: It’s great that you mentioned that because normally when an actor joins a project, the first thing to do is having a conversation with the director to talk about the project and the character. A month before we even came down Claudio started Skype conversations.
Tom Hopper: With all of us.
Anatole Taubman: With all of us, to discuss how to develop the character and the character’s growth. That gives you immediately a great feeling.
Tom Hopper: He encouraged us from day one to experiment with the characters and find relationships or little things that we have between each other in order to make these guys real and to create these realistic relationships.
Anatole Taubman: The beauty of the project is probably that it was realized as an independent one. If it would have been a 60-70 million dollar project with ten producers, you couldn’t change a word or a sentence since it is run by ten different people. So the beauty of that tight budget was for us actors to have this great platform to bring in our own ideas.
One last question: You mentioned that the movie was for you a boy’s dream come true. NORTHMEN is an action-packed adventure film. How would you sell this movie to a female crowd?
Ken Duken: Actually, I don’t want to sell anything. I was just surprised how many women really reacted to the film. When I started shooting the film and also when I saw it first, I thought it was a boy’s night out. Guys like me, having a beer and going to see the film. A lot of women really, really loved the film.
Tom Hopper: My wife is really honest and she always says whether she likes something or not. She said to me: “Tom, honestly, I think I won’t like this film because it’s not my kind of thing.” When she saw the film, she was like: “I can’t believe how good it was. I was really in it, all those moments were keeping me at the edge of my seat.” For me this is a great testament to the film.
Ken Duken: It is basically more like those action-adventures films that we love from our past like INDIANA JONES, where you have those action moments but in general you are taken in by the story.
Anatole Taubman: And we have to give tribute to Charlie Murphy, who plays Inghean. There is a woman in the movie who is just amazing and also imperatively important for the storyline. She is actually that big person why the bad guys go after those Vikings, because she’s been kidnapped by them. So there is a whole bunch of testosterone in the film, but there is a lot of estrogen in it too. And that is very much due to Charlie Murphy and her character.
Thank you very much for this interview!
Tom Hopper (*1985) spielt Asbjörn, den Anführer der Wikingerhorde. Bekannt wurde der britische Schauspieler vor allem durch seine Rolle als Sir Percival in der BBC-Serie MERLIN und war kürzlich in der von Michael Bay produzierten TV-Serie BLACK SAILS zusehen.
Ken Duken (*1979) spielt Thorald, Asbjörns treuer Freund und der stille Bogenschütze der Truppe. Der mehrfach ausgezeichnete Schauspieler aus Deutschland überzeugte die Produzenten von NORTHMEN vor allem durch seinen Auftritt in dem TV-Mehrteiler DAS ADLON. EINE FAMILIENSAGA.
Anatole Taubman (*1970) wirkte seit 1998 in über 75 Kinofilmen und TV-Produktionen mit, unter anderem in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, THE FIFTH ESTATE und Ken Folletts THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH. In NORTHMEN – A VIKING SAGA mimt der in Zürich geborene Schauspieler den karpatischen Söldner Bovarr, der mit seinen „Wölfen“ Jagd auf die Wikinger macht.
Bild-Copyright: Ascot Elite Filmverleih GmbH