With The Snowman, director Tomas Alfredson seeks to launch a stylish new crime franchise
singing a few bars of Walking In The Air on The Snowman’s Oslo set. This croaky nostalgia has been sparked by Empire’s mention of Raymond Briggs’ ’80s animation which shares a name, but absolutely nothing else, with his new thriller. There’ll be snowmen, but they’ll be left by a serial killer at murder scenes. Fassbender’s cop, Harry Hole, must solve the case before the leads, well, melt.
Originally a Martin Scorsese project set in Detroit and Chicago, The Snowman was entrusted to Let The Right One In’s Tomas Alfredson after Scorsese passed in 2013. Bringing Hole, author Jo Nesbø’s pin-sharp but troubled detective, back to Norway has opened plenty of doors to the production. It’s February and the shoot has moved from the ice-capped cliffs of Telemark to Oslo’s waterfront. Tonight they’re at the imposing red-brick City Hall, one of those open doors. “We’re not The Revenant yet,” jokes producer Robyn Slovo, as black Mercedes sweep through the slush and discharge VIPS for a bash hosted by J.K. Simmons’ media mogul, Arve Støp.
It’s in this Gotham-y world that Fassbender’s rumpled ’tec teams with talented young cop Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson). The political pressure to find the killer is high; Hole is vulnerable, destructible even. “These characters often seem almost bulletproof,” Fassbender notes, “but he comes out bottom in a lot of tussles. He’s got a lot of flaws. He’s enigmatic.”
The director and his star almost worked together on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and they’ve hit it off second time around. “I watch him as closely as I can; he’s an original, an artist,” says Fassbender of Alfredson. On set, cast and crew queue up to extol their director’s eye for snappy visuals. “There’s nothing mundane about anything Tomas does,” says Slovo. “He thinks visually.”
Nesbø’s 11 Harry Hole books have sold 30 million copies worldwide, a fanbase the filmmakers hope will fuel an entire franchise. As snowmen go, that’s a pretty big carrot.
above: Michael Fassbender as Jo Nesbø’s 30 million-selling detective Harry Hole; With police partner Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson); Bracing the Norwegian elements; Bratt faces flashy media mogul Arve Støp (J.K. Simmons).