Pilou Asbæk to solve the “hypnosis murders” in The Guardian Angel
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- After performing in several US features, the Danish actor returns to Nordic filmmaking in Finnish director Arto Halonen’s psychological thriller
Since Danish actor Pilou Asbæk performed in Tobias Lindholm’s Oscar-nominated A War [+see also:
interview: Tobias Lindholm
film profile] (2015), he has concentrated on the international side of his career. But now he will return to Nordic filmmaking, playing the lead role as police detective Roland Olsen in Finnish director Arto Halonen’s psychological thriller The Guardian Angel, which is based on a true story.
In 1951, a young man, Palle Hardrup, was arrested for a botched bank robbery in Copenhagen, where two men were killed. Hardrup pleaded guilty, but further investigation led by Olsen revealed that a hypnotist – Bjørn Schouw Nielsen – had manipulated Hardrup through a complex process of suggestion: Hardrup had come to believe that Nielsen was sending messages from God, through the words of a guardian angel who spoke through his mouth. Hardrup spent 18 years at a mental hospital, and Nielsen 17 years in prison.
“Our society is already full of invisible manipulation, but increasingly blatant examples of it keep appearing through religious and political movements. I am greatly concerned that people’s ‘mass-minded’ nature is repeatedly and increasingly abused for purely negative purposes. This development will inevitably render our environment a colder and more calculating place,” said Halonen, who wrote the screenplay for the film. He is also one of the few people to have talked to Hardrup about the case.
With a cast including veteran Croatian actor Rade Šerbedžija (who won the Best Actor Award at Venice for US-Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain), Danish actors Cyron Melville and Johannes Lassen, and US actor Josh Lucas, The Guardian Angel will shoot in Croatia and Denmark as a Finnish-Danish-Croatian co-production, staged by Halonen’s Helsinki-based Art Films Production AFP, Danish producer Timo T Lahtinen’s Smile Entertainment, and Croatian producer Igor A Nola’s MP Film Production. The film will be ready in 2018.
Most recently, Asbæk played with Scarlett Johansson in British director Rupert Sanders’ sci-fi drama Ghost in the Shell, which Paramount Pictures-Dreamworks will bring out next month (29 March) in France. Opposite Kirsten Dunst, he starred in US directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s Woodshock (2017), and before that he played Pontius Pilate in Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov’s new Ben-Hur (2016) adaptation for Paramount. Last year, he landed the role as Euron Greyjoy in the world’s most popular TV series, Game of Thrones, which he will continue in its seventh season.
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