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Interview - Björn Hlynur Haraldsson

The Cliff

The Cliff

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Interview with Björn Hlynur Haraldsson

To our viewers, how would you describe The Cliff? What kind of story they can expect?
The Cliff
is a murder mystery thriller with a twist, playing on the unknown that surrounds the culture of Iceland - but it also tells the personal family drama of a man who has encountered great loss in his life. The worst thing that can happen to a parent has mentally torn him apart. The presence of his lost son impedes upon his everyday life and has a damaging effect on the relationship with his daughter who he neglects after the death of his son.

The Cliff deals with subjects like legends and supernatural forces, do you personally believe in that kind of things?
Iceland is full of supernatural forces. It is a fact that in every rock on the island is a living creature. They are elflike creatures and if you treat them with respect you will be all right and they will protect you,but if you don´t conform to their rules you will not be safe. Very bad things can happen in your daily life. It´s like nature; you have to respect it or else, you can be destoyed by it. The Cliff is connected with that stigma.

Are those kind of legends common in traditional Icelandic folklore?
That´s exactly what it is; “the traditional Icelandic folklore“, which has been a part of the country since the island was first populated. The Sagas are attached to those legends as well. There is a connection between the stories,the landscape and the people. If you don´t believe it the elves will make you believe it, one way or another. We are only visitors in their world. So be aware,always.

How did you prepare for playing a police officer like Helgi?
There was standard procedure police work I did for preperation for The Cliff. Meeting people from the same department of the police force that the character of Helgi is working for. You could say it´s like a Crime Scene Investigation department. But in the American shows it´s a bit over the top in terms of technology,I guess. The Cliff is more like it is in real life,in Iceland at least. The people who have to deal with deaths and other tragedies every day for a living are admirable.

This is not my only police officer role, a few years ago I did a film called “Jar City“ which was based on a very popular Icelandic crime novel. The preparation for that was similar to The Cliff, basically trying to get into the mindset of the people who you are portraying.

You've worked in theatre, cinema and TV, which one do you prefer the most and why? What are the main differences for an actor in those three different fields of the same profession?
In my opinion it´s very good for an actor to do a fair share of each of those three. I´ve been fortunate enough to have been able to do so in my career. But I´ve also been directing and writing so I haven´t done a lot of theatre work in the last few years as an actor. Still, about one production a year, or every two years, I guess. It is a different thing altogether acting in films to acting on stage. Film and television work is obviously the same.

As an actor, how do you receive the news that an Icelandic series is being shown in the US and Latin America? Have other Icelandic productions achieved that kind of spread in other cultures and latitudes?
Honestly I´m not aware of whether there have been other productions from Iceland shown in that part of the world but I´m very delighted to hear that now it happens to be The Cliff because it´s a very good excample of the country. It´s a modern day thriller with a dash of everyday life in Icelandic culture, which I believe could be very interesting for the audience in Latin and North America.

Are you working in any acting projects at the moment? Can you tell us something about it?
At the moment I´m in Budapest, Hungary shooting The Borgias for Showtime. I am working on the third season of the show and will be shooting for about four months. It´s very exciting for me to take part in it, for I’m not used to the scale of a production like this. When you do television and film in a language that 300.000 people in the world speak, you of course don´t have budgets like the ones I´m witnessing here. But it´s a similar thing though, when the cameras start to roll, it´s basically the same work wherever you are.

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