Norwegian rapper Thomas Gullestad is the 12th Man in Harald Zwart’s WWII epic
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Thomas Gullestad, Anders Baasmo Christiansen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers play the leads in the depiction of Norwegian war hero Jan Baalsrud’s legendary escape from the Nazis
UPDATE (29 November 2016): Norwegian rapper and hip-hop musician Thomas "Fingern" Gullestad will perform as 25-year-old Norwegian war hero Jan Baalsrud in Norwegian director Harald Zwart’s €7 million World War II action-drama 12th Man, which follows the resistance fighter’s escape through Nazi-occupied Norway to freedom in Sweden. The cast of Zwart’s third Norwegian feature also includes Norwegian actor Anders Baasmo Christiansen and Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers. It has been shooting for Norwegian producers Aage Aaberge, Espen Horn, Veslemøy Ruud Zwart and Nordisk Film Production on location in Troms, where the historical events actually took place. The local release has been scheduled for 10 November 2017, and Denmark’s TrustNordisk handles the international sales.
Dutch-born Zwart made his latest film in Norway – Long Flat Balls II – eight years ago; meanwhile, he has signed such movies as Karate Kid (2010) for Sony Pictures USA, which grossed more than $350 million. The first Norwegian member of the Directors Guild of America, he also directed The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013). He is currently in pre-production with the Keanu Reeves starrer Rally Car.
12th Man tells the story of Norwegian war hero Baalsrud’s legendary escape from Nazi Germany’s occupation forces: 12 Norwegian resistance fighters crossed the North Sea on a fishing boat from the Shetland Islands to sabotage the Nazis. Eleven were captured, tortured and killed by the enemy; only one – Baalsrud – managed to get away, to neutral Sweden.
Norwegian director Arne Skouen described Baalsrud’s deeds in his 1957 feature Nine Lives (with Jack Fjeldstad in the lead), which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film. 12th Man will shoot from a new script by Norwegian screenwriter Petter Skavlan, who also supplied the story for Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s Oscar-nominated Kon-Tiki [+see also:
film profile] (2012), which Aaberge produced. Kon-Tiki took 900,000 admissions in Norway and was sold to more than 120 countries.
The cast – including the actor set to breathe life into Baalsrud – is yet to be named, but Aaberge plans to start principal photography this spring and shoot the whole film in the Troms region (where the actual events took place) in collaboration with Norwegian regional film centre FilmCamp. 12th Man will be released in the Scandinavian countries in autumn 2017 by Nordisk Film Distribution.