As Alex Høgh Andersen joins his video call with Nordic Watchlist, he’s choosing his background picture, settling everntually on something from outer space.
“Howabout this?” He asks.
We both agree a sci-fi background is a great option – a genre that he hasn’t found himself in yet having conquered the likes of historical Vikings, world war pilots, and now Nordic noir with the addition of a true crimes series. Asking him how he feels about appearing in a sci-fi series or movie his response is adamant. “It’s on the bucket list for sure – I am a huge sci-fi fan”.
In a week where fellow Dane, Lars Mikkelsen, has been casted in the new Star Wars spin-off series, Ahsoka, and the likes of both Mads Mikkelsen (Lars’ brother) and Stellan Skarsgård both appearing in films and series’ too – perhaps there is room for the young and talented actor.
Atfer a quick round-up on his favourite ‘go to’ sci-fi – Star Wars of course – and the agreement that Empire Strikes Back is one of the best sequels ever made, my namesake and I are getting off to a great start.
My first discovery of Alex Høgh Andersen was when he crawled into people’s eyes as Ivar for 53 episodes of the popular series Vikings. The star regales a tale of how he once went to a shop in Dublin covered in fake blood and a hair net.
“I went down to the supermarket in Dublin, I was staying at Grand Canal and I had blood on my neck and dirt in my face from a long day at work, the braids were still in and I had the long hair. On top of that was my hairnet because I didn’t want to have to take the braids out because that would take another hour in the morning.
So there I am in this supermarket trying to get a salad and a bottle of wine, or something, with blood on my face and covered in dirt. I probably smelt like horse shit too because I’ve been crawling through it every single day on set. Those were fun times that made for some of the interesting stuff about working on Vikings for sure“.
This month sees the release of Lost: Those Who Kill which features the star taking on a complicated bad guy role as Bjorn Jepsen, a suspect in a murder case who manages to convince the viewer he isn’t all bad – or is he?
On discussing what drew him to the role, he says “There is this three-dimensional arc to his character and the psychology of him being a human being rather than this guy who is just going around killing people.”
Alex discusses how he likes to try and create characters that are bad guys that don’t believe they are bad guys – that they have their own mission and that makes them a lot more interesting.
In the third season of the popular series, and one which you can watch without having seen the other series I hasten to add, Alex’s character Bjorn becomes a prime suspect in a murder case, but is everything as it seems? Detective Fredriks (the excellent Simon Sears) enlists profiler Louise Bergstein onto the case to help solve it – unravelling a whole host of characters and twisting plotlines.
It was Alex’s first venture into the Nordic Noir genre and an experience that he thoroughly enjoyed: “I’m a massive cinematography fan so it was great working on that set because we had time to create nice, cool pictures. It looked great and I was just amazed at the tone and the tonality that they created. It has a really cool vibe and I don’t know what it is, but we Nordic people, we know how to make those.”
He isn’t wrong about that!
Many might not be so familiar with another role Alex has been involved in with a new series on streamer Viaplay; a docu-drama called The Viking – Downfall of a Drug Lord. Here Alex, sporting some seriously long blonde hair, a tan, and at one point some snazzy speedos, plays a dramatized version of the famous Danish criminal Claus Malmqvist.
The four-part series is a mix of fiction, true crime, flashbacks and modern takes on the story behind one of Denmark’s most notorious criminals. I wonder what it felt like to have to balance a non-fictional character after playing a fictional one and which of the two is more challenging to play?
“There was something speaking to me with this series because it was so interesting and different. The way you play with the audience expectations in terms of it being a documentary but then thinking is it fiction? To merge those two things constantly is really hard, it’s also a fine line that you have to balance.
You’re watching it and you’re like, wait, this feels like fiction, but it is a documentary, and then it loses some of that authenticity, which is super important.”
“You could say trying to portray a real human being, that people in the audience have some kind of relation to, is harder because you have to look like them and talk like them and act like them and all that for sure.
I haven’t really tried that yet. I did that with the Viking, but it was a version of Klaus that I created along with my director, because if I was going to do the real Klaus then it would have been boring because Klaus is very down to earth, which is also the reason why he became as big as he did – because he’s underplaying everything. He’s very Danish in that way.
But they needed some punch out of him. Now we’re talking again about fictional elements, costume and design and all that. So my director put him in a black shirt, got his hair done, sent him sitting in a rooftop hotel room, stuff like that. And I was portraying that character. I wasn’t portraying Klaus because that would be completely different.
So they had to co-exist with each other, but it was a fictional character that I created. And so trying to portray real human beings, I haven’t really tried it yet. I think it’s really, really hard.
And what can we expect next from Alex when it comes to Viaplay?
“Well it is a TV Show I wrote with one of my friends during Covid. We sat down and had a couple of gin and tonics, then we started pitching ideas at each other which is always fun – one of those ideas was this new series. It is basically about two best buddies whose lives and everything is just great…until one of them starts dating the other one’s mum.”
We are very intrigued by this premise – where exactly will the story go and how will the friends handle the situation? The series is scheduled for a summer release in Denmark – we’ll keep an eye out for when it might get a UK release. He tells us more:
“It’s contemporary and it is Copenhagen 2023. It’s about the society that we’ve created where we have to be able to comprehend everything and every relationship there is. If you are eating this or eating that or if you’re not, if you’re loving this person, if you’ve got a different sexuality.
If you got all that stuff, it’s great, but it also creates a lot of challenges you can find yourself in – especially when your best friend starts French-kissing your mom in front of you, then you need to figure out some stuff!”
I wonder what Alex has been watching in his spare time? His response is obviously Succession, because who isn’t watching that at the moment; but then his eyes light up and he tells me about another show he is infatuated with.
The last episode of television I just watched was This is Going to Hurt on the BBC, which is freaking amazing and possibly the best TV show that I’ve watched this year for sure, without a doubt.
I am in awe of how it’s written and how it’s shot and how it’s edited and how it’s acted. It’s witty, it’s sharp, it’s a critical and it’s just freaking phenomenal. I just re-watched the first episode because I needed to. So, yeah, This is Going to Hurt is my recommendation.
You can see Alex Høgh Andersen in both Lost:Those Who Kill and The Viking – Downfall of a Drug Lord on Viaplay now.