Actor Adam Pålsson talks to Nordic Watchlist about the new series of Young Wallander

I haven’t spoken English in a while Alex, I haven’t been really been speaking much Swedish either, let’s see what happens.

Adam is deadpan, and much like his young detective character, pretty hard to read! I know Scandinavians well enough to know that they are very good at pulling your leg and keeping a straight face. I respond, in Swedish, ‘Jag talar lite Svenska’ (translating to ‘I speak a little Swedish’) to help calm his nerves, in case he truly does have them.

That is great Alex, let’s do this in Swedish then!

A smile cracks on Adam’s face and fortunately I know now he is being playful. He is curious to know why on earth I am learning Swedish. It is a good question – it is not the easiest of languages, but with my passion for Scandinavia, a love of learning, and increasing connections in the Nordic region, it seemed like an obvious and fun thing to do!

Curiosity about speaking English and Swedish seems appropriate, given that Adam is playing the part of famous Swedish Detective Kurt Wallander in the Netflix series Young Wallander, but he actually plays the part in English and surrounded by an English-speaking cast.

Season two includes some new faces in the cast, I asked Adam what it was like working with them:

It is always a thrill to work with such skilled actors such as Tomwai Edun, Lisa Hammond, and Josef Davies – just great people!

Being on a film set when you are filming abroad, like we were in Lithuania, it feels almost like a summer camp where you spend a lot of time together – it is a lot of fun and everyone is so lovely.

Filming season two was certainly different from when Adam filmed the first season, which was back in 2019 and released in September 2020.

I miss those times, but am getting used to this new world, 500 PCR tests a day.

I had filmed Young Wallander and Armando Iannucci’s Avenue Q first series before the pandemic and then I filmed both second seasons in this pandemic, which is so very different.

Filming abroad you have to stay where you are rather than explore the city or surrounding area, order takeaway food, and hang out in the hotel – so it was a much tougher experience.

Young Wallander Season 2. (L to R) Adam Palsson as Kurt Wallander, Leanne Best as Detective Frida Rask in Young Wallander Season 2. Cr. Andrej Vasilenko/Netflix © 2022

We steer away from the pandemic and focus back on Young Wallander – discussing what brought Adam back to this character who, for some, is controversially brought to the modern age rather than the older setting in the book.

The tempo is different with this modern context, it is in English, so there is a lot of things that are different from the Swedish books and the adaptions of the books.

But then again there is still a flavour of those in the series, a blue tone in Kurt Wallander – the melancholy where the character has this sadness but is content with it. It might be a Nordic thing – maybe because of the darkness and the cold and maybe the emptiness from living in such a large country.

There is something about that which is very familiar to me. Then you have my dad’s name which is Kurt, that I grew up in the 90s with the books, and my family are from Ystad which is featured in the books so it is very familiar and close to home which is a good thing to me – especially when you are playing this role in English with English actors, which is a real challenge.

Having that experience of what Kurt Wallander is really about on a deeper level gives me the confidence to bear this series on my shoulders.

Adam strikes a very valid point here – the first season of Young Wallander had set off an angry mob of the detective’s die-hard fans who were frustrated that it wasn’t in Swedish nor set in the time that the ‘Young Wallander’ books are set; however, equally there was a legion of fans praising the series.

It is the difficult balance of trying to keep everyone happy – one thing is for sure is that Adam’s presence brings the authenticity of the character, and in Netflix’s desire to bring this him to the modern age, without subtitles, allows the show to open up to a much wider audience. That can’t be a bad thing.

Young Wallander. (L to R) Adetomiwa Edun as Osei, Adam Palsson as Kurt Wallander, Leanne Best as Detective Frida Rask in Young Wallander. Cr. Andrej Vasilenko/Netflix

In the first season we saw young Kurt get beaten up, quite a lot, and the new series starts with another fist fight. I wonder whether the second season was as physically challenging for him.

I love it, I want the fighting scenes to be as realistic as possible but having said that I did hurt myself a lot! I always do!

Whether I have fallen the wrong way because I am not patient enough to wait for the mattressI am just like ‘No No its fine I can do this’ and so I constantly walk around on set like an old man!

Sounds a bit like me after a rugby match!

Exactly – you shouldn’t be doing anything like that if you are older than sixteen!

Hopefully Adam had his own stuntman though?

I did yes but I tried to do as many stunts as possible – as long as they let me do it I would do it. I like the adventure to be involved in the heart of that moment.

We focus next on the theme of the new series, which I felt had quite a darker edge to it. The opening episode sees a victim get dispatched in a pretty brutal but very realistic manner. Adam comments:

“In the first season Kurt was just so vulnerable and naïve – he was just out of college but now he is bit more tormented with a lot of anxiety. He is reluctant to go back after everything that happened in the previous season which has matured him too. He learnt a lot in those previous cases and can use that to adaptI like that about his character and his story arc.

I have never thought about the series as being darker, maybe it is.”

Without doubt there is the fascinating story arc for his character in the series, and how the repercussions of the previous season are still with Kurt in this new one.

Well we all know where this character is heading which I also find fascinating, we are seeing step by step how he develops and becomes this beloved character who we know. We don’t want to see him drinking because we know how that is going to end up – you know? I like to have everything mapped out!

The series sees Jen Jonsson back onboard directing which was a great experience for Adam:

He is so talented and confident with everyone on set – in fact he loves playing some disco music after every take behind the monitor. It sets the tone on the set – when you are doing such a dark story it is nice to liven up with this music!

Now that is an image we’d love to see!

Young Wallander comes to Netflix on the 17th February and while we cannot guarantee any disco dancing, do get ready for another fascinating mystery for the young detective to get embroiled in. We can’t wait!

Young Wallander Killer’s Shadow is out on Netflix from 17th February

Interview by Alex Minnis

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