Last month saw the release of season two of Icelandic series Stella Blomkvist -four years after season one came out. Described on IMDB as “a young, cute, tough, confident, intelligent, Icelandic lawyer with a flexible moral compass”, Stella Blomkvist is a refreshing romp of a Nordic Noir with a sassy and darkly funny twist.
The woman who plays her is Heida Reed. Nordic Watchlist caught up with her in-between filming to find out what else she has been working on since Stella, and importantly, what her favourite Christmas movie is.
Nordic Watchlist: So let’s talk about Stella Blomkvist, a series we absolutely love, it is finally back but how did it feel to step back into the character’s shoes after such a long time between the first season and the second?
Heida Reed: It was so great and it couldn’t have happened sooner. It had been four years since the first series, so it did take a while but I am so pleased that there was such an interest from the international fan base that kept this project alive.
I was also happy to be able to really work again, as this started filming in the middle of lockdown so I was able to film in Iceland rather than be stuck at home.
She is such a badass and it was just so great to be that character again. I am really really proud of the second season.
NW: You are right, she is an absolute badass and we love her character! She brings something fresh and different to the genre. We like to call this series a bit more Nordic Neon due to the clever style the show has and am I right in understanding there was a premier for the series?
HR: You are right – both seasons have had a premier in Iceland which sadly I was unable to attend as I was filming at the time. There are always sacrifices that need to be made.
NW: For those that have not seen Season 2 yet, what can you tell us about what to expect this time round?
HR: I think there is a similar feel to it as the previous series but with perhaps a more heightened look. In some ways we have toned down in some places; four years is a long time to think about how we have felt about the project and figure what works. Coming into it this time we just knew what the project was – where we could take risks and where we shouldn’t.
She has an updated look too which is fun!
NW: It is very smart how the season opens and the continued narrative that spreads itself over six episodes again with two episodes focusing on particular cases. Stella Blomkvist is not the only project out there as you have been working on FBI International too tell us some more about this series.
HR: I am part of the FBI International team, we film over in Budapest and some other European locations. Then there is FBI Most Wanted and FBI Original which is filmed on the East Coast. It is a big franchise series that ties all together.
NW: Other work we see you have coming is Against The Ice on Netflix with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and then there is the Icelandic movie Summerlight.. And Then Comes The Night, both we are very excited about!
HR: Yeah well these were all back to back in 2020 and I hadn’t really filmed in Iceland since Stella in 2017!
Summerlight is an adaptation of a famous Icelandic book written by Jón Kalman Stefánsson. It is a book that people really, really love. The director, Elfar Adalsteins, has been working on this adaptation for years and I have been attached to it for years so it was so exciting to have this finally come to life. We filmed that in the West Fjords during the summer which is just such a beautiful place!
Right when I ended that I went into Stella, and then somehow I managed to squeeze in this role for Against The Ice. Nikolaj had adapted this true story about a Danish explorer that gets stranded in Greenland for two years, along with another character played by Joe Cole, back in 1912. They were left by their crew who thought they were dead and I play Nikolaj’s girlfriends, who obviously isn’t on the island, but perhaps there might be some hallucinations going on! It is the only female role in the film but it was small enough for me to fit into with my schedule as I was filming Stella.
I’m so excited for both these projects to come out.
NW: It must have been quite something, to film with all these amazing actors from these movies!
HR: It was very special for me to work across the board with most of the Icelandic actors now as I don’t get to work with them that regularly it was so nice to feel a little more integrated into that community there, as it is an extremely high calibre of actors.
NW: With those films already tied up, what else have you got coming up?
HR: Well I am in Budapest for a long time – I have twenty-one episodes of FBI International to shoot and we are less than halfway through. So that is on the horizon at the moment as an actor.
I am editing my first short film which is a personal project that I have written and directed – we’ll see how that goes when that is finished.
But aside from that there isn’t much time for much else – we’ll see what I can squeeze into the breaks during this second season! This is my first experience with network television and it really is full-on – a totally different beast.
NW: What have you been enjoying watching in your spare time at the moment?
HR: I mean, I watch everything. I am obviously watching the new season of Succession as well as Curb Your Enthusiasm. I watched Maid over on Netflix and that has an absolutely fantastic performance from both mother and daughter.
Dopesick on Disney+ and surprisingly the other day my husband and I put on Respect which is the Aretha Franklin film starring Jennifer Hudson. Maybe it is has been out there without me realising but I just wasn’t aware of it as much as I feel I should have been – it is an extremely solid film with an unbelievably incredible performance from Jennifer Hudson. I would not be surprised if there was another Oscar coming her way.
And like everyone I have been listening to the new Adele record!
OH and one more – a Nordic one for you! The Chestnut Man was absolutely brilliant – perhaps the best thing I have seen since The Killing. I just wanted more but it was so perfectly done – my standards are quite high for these things as the market is so saturated with Scandi-noir and they can all blend into one a bit sometimes, but this really did stick out.
I have heard this Norwegian series Home For Christmas is great too, so I am looking forward to watching that.
NW: That is a great series! On that note, we can round this off with finding out what would be your ultimate Christmas movie?
HR: Home Alone, it has to be Home Alone! I have grown out of a few of them – but Home Alone hits me every time!
You can find both season of Stella Blomkvist on Sundance Now – a channel that is part of Amazon Prime
Interview by Alex Minnis
Photo Credits: Saga Sigurdardottir