ON SET WITH... Sofie Grabol
Danish actress Sofie, 48, who shot to fame here playing Sarah Lund in The killing, appears as Governor Hildur Odegard in Sky Atlantic's dark drama Fortitude. Here she takes us behind the scenes on series two of the show, which is shot in London and Iceland...
Fortitude is a fictional town in Arctic Norway where strange things go on, primarily because it sits on a pit of frozen prehistoric animals that’s slowly thawing. I see Hildur as the mother of Fortitude – she cares for the community and comes to its aid. And there’s plenty of need for that in this new series. It’s a very troubled town. Today we’re by the waterside in eastern Iceland, which doubles for Norway, and Hildur has to sort out a problem at the docks. I hardly need say it’s very cold and thermals are essential.
Fortitude’s a gory show – you only have to sit in make-up each morning to realise that. I get off relatively lightly but it’s amusing to ask people around me what they’re going to be up to that day as the fake blood is being applied to their faces. Today I’m sitting next to a guy who’s been doing some evil things in flashbacks. Maybe it’s my Danish background but the minutiae of the story really appeals to me – I loved the killer wasps that emerged from a frozen mammoth carcass during the first series.
It’s a joy in this new series to be working with Dennis Quaid, who plays a fisherman called Michael Lennox, an old flame of Hildur’s. I tend to be uptight when I’m filming, but before our scenes today [right] Dennis chats and relaxes, tells a few jokes, has a few laughs and eases his way into it.
Today we have only half a day of filming, so there’s a chance to relax and learn lines at the hotel where all 25 of the main actors are staying. The hotel is in a very remote part of Iceland and I can’t help thinking this is a deliberate ploy to get us to bond away from everything else. If it is, it’s definitely working! We go for walks together, eat together and there’s lots of music too. Richard Dormer, who plays police sheriff Dan Anderssen, has brought his ukulele, and Dennis joins in with his guitar. They make a very lively sound!
There’s lots of snow falling today. Last year they had to import fake snow, as we had so little of it, but now we have too much. But it helps get us in the mood and it’s the kind of glistening, frozen environment we want to see on screen. The setting is a huge character in the drama and I love it – but when we’re shooting at the studios in London you have to really stretch your imagination to envisage it. Today, to prove how international this show is, I have to speak some Russian. So it’s a Dane, pretending to be from Norway, speaking Russian in a drama shot in Iceland!
Fortitude, Thursday, 9pm, Sky Atlantic.