Dan­ish 'Bor­gen' star mak­ing up for lost time

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

She made her name in hit TV drama "Bor­gen," but only a few years later Dan­ish ac­tress Sidse Ba­bett Knud­sen is jug­gling cov­eted small- and big-screen roles on both sides of the At­lantic. It is all a long way from her Copen­hagen roots-espe­cially for an ac­tress who spent a long time strug­gling, be­fore fi­nally mak­ing the big time. The awardwinning 47-year-old, who played Den­mark's first fe­male prime min­is­ter in the po­lit­i­cal drama, is cur­rently star­ring along­side Hol­ly­wood veteran Tom Hanks in "In­ferno" by Os­car-win­ning di­rec­tor Ron Howard.

At the same time on the small screen she is in hit US sci-fi west­ern thriller "West­world" with An­thony Hop­kins. Back in Europe she won a Ce­sar, France's ver­sion of the Os­cars, this year for "L'her­mine," while her lat­est Gal­lic out­ing is in "La Fille de Brest" af­ter French film icon Catherine Deneuve sug­gested her for the role. When di­rec­tor Em­manuelle Ber­cot of­fered her the part, the el­e­gant blue-eyed ac­tress didn't be­lieve him at first.

"I was like 'What are they think­ing?' be­cause I don't speak French very well. I thought maybe some­body told them I was half French be­cause I stud­ied in France," she told AFP, sit­ting in a plush Paris ho­tel. "Maybe they thought that was it," she added. Much like in "Bor­gen," for which she shared a BAFTA award, she loves play­ing strong and in­tel­li­gent women. "I love be­ing in the skin of coura­geous peo­ple. That in­spires me," she said. "When I read a part, ei­ther I think it makes the world smaller or the world big­ger. I want to go to­wards those where I see the world get­ting big­ger."

In "In­ferno," she plays the head of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), while in HBO megaseries "West­world" she is the op­er­a­tions man­ager of a fu­tur­is­tic amuse­ment park. "It's been won­der­ful to work in such dif­fer­ent places and in such dif­fer­ent set­tings. I re­ally liked that," she said.

Child­hood am­bi­tion

Born in Copen­hagen to a pho­tog­ra­pher fa­ther and teacher mother, she spent part of her child­hood in Tan­za­nia-but she de­cided at the ten­der age of eight that she wanted to be an ac­tress. But it was only 10 years later, when she ar­rived in France with a bi­cy­cle to be an au pair, that she started do­ing some­thing about her am­bi­tion to be on the big screen. Be­tween odd jobs she took act­ing lessons, in­dulged her love for cinema and spent lots of time in the Pom­pi­dou Cen­tre, where she learned French by read­ing a trans­la­tion of Kafka's Me­ta­mor­pho­sis. But af­ter six years she de­cided to re­turn to Copen­hagen, tired of strug­gling to make ends meet. "I came back be­cause it was not easy be­ing (in Paris) I had no place to live and it was just go­ing around with your hat, ask­ing for jobs all the time. It be­came a bit too hard," she said. Back in her home town, "a friend of mine did (Ib­sen's) 'Peer Gynt', and she asked me to come to Dan, and I thought 'Yeah, do that'." Fur­ther parts with the same theatre group fol­lowed.

Her cinema break­through came in the 1997 im­pro­vi­sa­tional com­edy "Let's Get Lost," which won her a best ac­tress Bodil, Den­mark's ver­sion of Hol­ly­wood's fa­mous golden stat­uettes. She fol­lowed that in 1999 with ro­man­tic com­edy "The One and Only" by Su­sanne Bier, and seven years later "Af­ter The Wed­ding" with Mads Mikkelsen. But she re­ally made the big time with "Bor­gen," which hit TV screens in 2010.

The Dan­ish TV se­ries, in which she plays premier Bir­gitte Ny­borg, has been a hit around the world, with one US critic com­par­ing it to Emmy and Golden Globe-win­ning po­lit­i­cal drama "The West Wing". As she en­tered her 40s, it changed her life. "Ab­so­lutely," she said. "The con­se­quences of 'Bor­gen' did, be­cause I'm here now, fi­nally. It has opened a lot of doors."

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