Director Nicholas Winding Refn (Pusher trilogy, Drive, The Neon Demon) is back, and this time he is in his homeland of Denmark with his new series Copenhagen Cowboy, which will be released on Netflix on Jan 5th.
We last saw NWR’s work with Too Old To Die Young, which was a ten-episode series based in LA and starring the excellent Miles Teller. Suffice to say that fans of that series and his work will absolutely adore this new piece.
Danish actress Angela Bundalovic (The Rain) is the lead star, wrapped up in a blue tracksuit for most of the running time, as she practically ghost walks between a whole variation of scenerios that are violent, comical, mystical, and damn right weird. The series is a slow burn visual feast that builds momentum each episode, so patience will pay off, and there is no doubt that fans of NWR’s work will be in for an absolute treat watching this.
Along the way she meets the likes of Li li Zhang (as Mor Hulda), Andreas Lykke Jorgensen (as Niklas), Jason Hendil-Forsell (as Mr Chang), and Lola Winding Refn (as Rakel). We caught up with the four of them to discuss their experience filming with the great director and what their roles are in the series.
Meet Li Ii Zhang and Jason Hendil-Forssell
Nordic Watchlist: This wasn’t just your first time acting in a series, but also working with such a famous director, how was that experience for you both?
Li Li Zhang: Getting to work with Nicholas was such an amazing experience – he was so good at explaining what he wanted but also allowed you to have a lot of freedom. I was so nervous before the show started, especially when working with such a famous director.
He is so detail orientated and when you are working with him he is more like a friend or family.
Jason Hendril-Forssell: He was just so professional and I wanted to try and make sure that everything was perfect for him. It was almost like he was opening up this new world for me – as I kid I wanted to do martial arts and that was the dream I followed and then suddenly at the age of 45 I am in a Nicholas Winding Refn series on Netflix!
Nordic Watchlist: How familiar were you with his work before shooting the series?
Li Li Zhang: I had seen the first two Pusher films and also the Too Old To Die Young – but even then it was so hard to imagine what it was going to be like featuring in his own piece of work.
Jason Hendril-Forssell: Of course, I had seen the Pusher trilogy, Only God Forgives, and Drive – it is actually one of my favourite movies. I didn’t know at the time that I was going to be featured in a film by that same director.
Nordic Watchlist: What can you tell us about your characters in the series?
Jason Hendril-Forssell: I am playing a Chinese gangster boss (pictured above) who has some problems with these headaches and that is where he meets Miu through Mother Hulda and she has some special powers to help him.
Li Li Zhang: Well I can tell you that I play Mother Hulda (pictured below), she is Chinese, and has many different sides to her. She owns a restaurant and is also a business woman – amongst all of that she is like a mother to everyone, including her daughter.
Nordic Watchlist: How did it feel seeing the finished product as it is such a unique series!
Li Li Zhang: My first thought was how good it looked, not just I looked amazing in it, but everything from the music, the colours, the light – it just made it so fascinating. It is almost like an art piece in that it is so different from all his other work he has done.
Jason Hendril-Forssell: I have never been in a series before and I can’t believe how amazing it looks!
Meet Andreas Lykke Jørgensen and Lola Corfixen
Nordic Watchlist: I really wanted to start with you Andreas – you have come from a background in sailing, horticulture, and now here you are in a Nicholas Winding Refn Netflix series – how did that happen?
Andreas Lykke Jørgensen: I was hanging out with my sister and her friends, and after a couple of months one of them got in touch with me and asked me whether I might have a go at casting for the new series on Netflix, which they had already been casted in.
And I was like, I don’t have the money for this but they said it was a free trip to the city and all I needed to do was a improvised scene and record it.
So I was stood in my bathroom, half naked, phone taped up onto the wall with some raging techno on in the background pretending to do some coke and acting like an absolute psychopath.
Overnight I had a number of missed calls from the casting director and there we go, I was in!
Nordic Watchlist: And how about you Lola – I guess it was a little different given the director is your dad?
Lola Corfixen: Well, I think I have always kept my life very separate from my father’s work. I graduated from high school this year so for the past three to four years I have been really focused on that and my exams.
One day in production he was acting all secretive, I had made him aware previously that I was too busy at that time to consider being an actor and that I had my own thing going on. But he just asked me if I could say a few lines for him and give him a hand. I ended up saying them and actung them out.
A couple of days later he asked me if I wanted the part and I was like, sure!
Nordic Watchlist: What was it like for you getting to work with Nicholas, Andreas?
Andreas Lykke Jørgensen: It was pretty fun, I have to say that I didn’t know who he was at the beginning, I hadn’t really done much within the acting world before but that didn’t make me nervous or starstruck being around his presence.
I just took everything as it came and we filmed for over eight months and it felt like it was just a month! It was very hectic and very fun at the same time – I was allowed to be an artist as much as being an actor too so that was very cool.
Nordic Watchlist: Did it feel like a big family reunion shooting together back in Denmark?
Lola Corfixen: We kept it all very professional, my dad is very professional in that when he goes to work he goes to work and I learnt that very quickly.
What was nice was that we have had such seperate lives that this felt like a real bonding experience to share the same world together – he could talk about somewhat that he had created and I was a part of.
Filming in Copenhagen was really nice too as it has been our home, the whole family are in the series, any chance he can get he’ll use it. So it has been a wonderful family experience for us!
Nordic Watchlist: How did it feel seeing the finished product – were you quite ready for how it all looked visually on the screen, and not to mention that incredible soundtrack!
Lola Corfixen: The soundtrack is impeccable! He loves his neon drenched theme – like you have seen in The Neon Demon – so it is such a visual experience as much as story being told. On the set it all was very different with everything having to be on point; whether that was a hair, or a finger, etc. It is such a journey – and from someone who is colour blind too.
Nordic Watchlist: Wait a minute – Nicholas is colour blind?!
Lola Corfixen: So the colours he uses are the colours he can see – pink, red, and blue all pinched together!
Andreas Lykke Jørgensen: It has been incredible – we would spend so many hours on set and figuring out certain scenes. Then afterwards getting to watch it, it was just mind blowing.
Nordic Watchlist: What about your characters in this – what can you tell us about them?
Lola Corfixen: I think it is best describe my character as an energy rather an as person because my character is an energy waiting to get out.
Andreas Lykke Jørgensen: I am such a happy go lucky person, always smiling, so playing the role of a serial killing psychopathic millionaire was quite a weird experience for me but it was also so much fun!
We certainly can’t wait to see Copenhagen Cowboy open up to the world this January – and also to see what these talented stars get to do next after such an exciting time for them working with Nicholas Winding Refn.
Copenhagen Cowboy comes to Netflix from the 5th January