This Thursday June 17 sees the release of the highly anticipated Icelandic drama Katla on Netflix and we’re super excited! We spoke to Bjorn Thors, who plays Darri in the series, about the experience filming Katla, what we can expect from the show, his upcoming projects, and what else he’s been up to and recommends. You can also watch the trailer for Katla below!
Bjorn is a recognisable face from the Icelandic acting scene. He recently had a brilliant role in the The Valhalla Murders which we really enjoyed, and you may have also seen him appear in such Icelandic classics as The Deep film, Woman At War and Paris of the North.
Katla is coming to our screens! What can we expect from the show?
You can expect to witness the power of the elements during an eruption of the Icelandic volcano Katla, one of Iceland’s biggest and most dangerous volcanoes.
The story takes place in a closed area around the volcano on the south coast of Iceland, an area known for extreme nature and big volcanoes. Strange things start to happen when the eruption has been going on for one year.
The series offers a chilling atmosphere, stunning visuals, amazing nature and a story that strikes a different, original tone.
It was filmed during the pandemic – how did it feel being one of the first series to be filmed during such a time?
At the time it felt surreal. Like something out of a disaster film. People didn’t know that much about the virus and we got news every day about new outbreaks and shutdowns and suddenly we were being called back in for shooting.
All film sets in the world were closed, but we were going to start again. I can tell you now that it was a bit chilling.
But soon as we started we realized that all measures were taken to minimize the risk of infections, all the crew and cast were split into different colour codes and each colour could only stay within a certain area on the set. This was all organised in full dialogue with healthcare officials and the civil protection department.
What locations did you film in?
This first period was shot in a film studio in Reykjavik. The exteriors were shot mainly on the south coast of Iceland, close to the actual volcano Katla.
Katla synopsis and trailer from Netflix
Katla comes to Netflix this week – Thursday 17th June! Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think.
Since Katla, you have worked on a film with the incredible Terence Malick – what was that experience like?
The experience was unlike anything I have ever had before, a bit like improv work in front of the camera. I only had one scene and I spoke with Terence the morning of the shoot. We discussed the scene and he told me what the idea behind it was.
He was really pleasant and relaxed. On set everything happened really quickly. The scene was shot in one continuous shot and Terrance gave instructions on the fly during the shoot. It was over before I knew it.
What else have you got coming next?
Next premiere is a film we shot last summer called “Reply to a Letter from Helga” by director Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir, based on a great novel by the author Bergsveinn Birgisson.
The Valhalla Murders was a big hit over here – might we see the return of Arnar?
Wouldn’t that be great!? I don’t know how that stands, but I’m up for it!
Where are some of your favourite places to explore or visit in Iceland?
There are a lot of amazing places to visit here. We are actually planning a round trip starting next week. That will include Húsavík in the north, Egilstaðir in the east and Höfn on the south coast. We will end the trip around the Katla locations, close to Vik.
Finally, what have you been watching, reading, or listening to recently? Any recommendations?
These days I’ve mainly been reading scripts and plays for work, or watching rough cuts of unreleased material. I listen to podcasts when I go for a hike or ride my bike. I’d recommend the Freakonomics podcast, Scriptnotes, This American Life, and Serial.
Just the other day I watched an American film again that I saw years ago; Silver Linings Playbook – by David O. Russel. A wonderful and funny film about a subject that needs attention now – mental health. I recommend it!
Another film I just watched again is an Icelandic film called Of Horses and Men by my friend Benedikt Erlingsson. Another wonderful film. It’s about our connection with nature, the relationship between horses and men, and the animal within ourselves. Funny, original, and clever.
Feature and interview by Alex Minnis