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Wilmann will play Norway’s Sonja Henie, learning skating from scratch


- Anne Sewitsky’s biopic on the figure skater, who became one of the highest-paid film stars in 1930s Hollywood, will shoot from 2016

Wilmann will play Norway’s Sonja Henie, learning skating from scratch
Norwegian actress Ine Marie Wilmann (© Maipo-Pål Laukli)

Thirty-year-old Norwegian actress Ine Marie Wilmann will play the lead in Norwegian director Anne Sewitsky’s upcoming Sonja, the biopic on Sonja Henie, the Norwegian figure skater who became one of the highest-paid film stars in 1930s Hollywood. The €9.3 million feature will shoot from 2016 in Norway and the US for Norwegian producer Synnøve Hørsdal’s Maipo Film.

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Wilmann, who also stars in Sewitsky’s latest film, Homesick [+see also:
film profile
– which just unspooled at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah (22 January-1 February) – admitted she did not land the role because of her skills on the ice.

“Once, as a child, I tried my brother’s hockey skates, and after that, no skating. So I started from scratch, but now I am an enthusiast, having trained for two years,” she told the local press.

A 2011 graduate from Oslo’s National Academy of Theatre, Wilmann has mainly performed on stage, including landing the lead role in The Diary of Anne Frank at Bergen’s National Theatre. Her TV and film credits include Norwegian director Stian Kristiansen’s I Travel Alone (2011). 

Sonja Henie won her first major skating competition, the Norwegian senior championships, when she was ten; after victories in three Olympic Games, and 11 world, six European and ten Norwegian championships, she signed a film contract with 20th Century Fox president Darryl Zanuck; her first feature, Sidney Lanfield’s One in a Million, was an instant success.

At the same time, she toured the US with the Hollywood Ice Revue, a show produced by Arthur Wirtz, earning her a total of $2 million annually, which – together with her endorsement deals – made her one of the wealthiest women in the world. Introduced into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she officially retired in 1960. She died of leukaemia in 1969, aged 57.

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