Jonas Strand Gravli has been one of many stand-out performances in the hugely popular Norwegian Netflix series Ragnarok. Alex from Nordic Watchlist spoke to the star about the new series, his character Laurits, and coming to terms with the end of the show.
Perhaps it is worth warning everyone now that there might be spoilers to the previous seasons in this interview, so if you have never watched Ragnarok you may not want to read any further. For those excited for the final season – there are no spoilers, so please read on!
Nordic Watchlist: Were you ever ready for how successful Ragnarok would become?
Jonas Strand Gravil: No, I had no idea at all really. I kind of knew that because it was on Netflix a lot of people would have the opportunity to watch it but a coming-of-age meets Norse mythology TV show getting this much attention? I think it came as a surprise for all of us really – its been an amazing experience and especially with all the fans who contact us to tell us how much they are enjoying the show.
NW: I have always found it interesting that when I talk about the shows we cover with my friends, not many have watched them – until we recommend them of course – but all of them seem to say that they have seen Ragnarok. What do you think is the secret to it to all? Perhaps the uniqueness of it?
JSG: Yeah I think it is perhaps the combination of Norse Mythology with all of the Nordic scenery. Some of those locations are so beautiful, they almost look painted on in post production but they weren’t, and you kind of know immediately when you are at some of the locations how good it is going to look.
I think that many people have watched the Marvel films and see the Norse mythology through those. But we are kind of making that whole Norse mythology universe into something a little more down to earth. The feeling that this could happen to anyone, even the kids of today, and I think this combination of real-time drama with this universe has been an excellent recipe.
NW: I was thinking about the series and how it reminded me in a way of something like Buffy The Vampire Slayer – the way that all these crazy things would happen with people fighting and all this fantasy elements going on only for it to switch to them just in a cafe chatting.
I wanted to talk about your character Laurits because he is a really fascinating character who has a lot of crazy things happen to him. There is that awkward dance sequence in season one, the varying fashions he sports, him giving birth to a tapeworm which he becomes a ‘mommy’ to – can it get weirder for Laurits in season 3?
JSG: Well yeah, I think he is really going to grow into that mother role this season!
I have had so much fun playing this character, I wish I could just keeping going playing such a character as there are just no boundaries to him. He is amazing!
After we did the first season I spoke to the showrunners and said: “Okay please challenge me in the next season.” So they had me giving birth to a tapeworm! I did the same for the third season and they wrote some pretty difficult scenes for me – many of which I do alone!
I just love Laurits’ character – the costumes, the style, are something that are very unique to him and that came from me speaking to the make-up and costume designers and saying: “Do what you want and let’s get crazy.” That is how the character came to life and it was a joy to play him.
NW: What I love about Laurits is that he is just such a quiet character but always feels so present in every scene he is in. In season two you were eating all the way through it – tell me what that was like filming?
JSG: I ate a lot! I think it was in the first season and I was eating a Ben & Jerry’s or something – in the first one or two takes I had eaten it all. I hadn’t realised that they wanted to take shots from different angles – this is what everyone tells you as an actor: “If you are going to eat, don’t eat too much.” I ate way too much Ben & Jerrys!
NW: The cast is pretty incredible in this series – you have so many big names you are working alongside such as Bjørn Sundquist, Henriette Steenstrup, Gísli Örn Garðarsson, Herman Tømmeraas, Theresa Frostad Eggesbø, and David Stankston. How much fun was it getting to act alongside this cast?
JSG: I don’t think there are any words really to describe how wonderful it was. I was so starstruck getting to work alongside the young cast from Skam (Herman Tømmeraas, Theresa Frostad Eggesbø, and David Stankston) – I was a fan of this series when it was first released in Norway.
So there was working with them and then the living legends like Bjørn Sundquist and Henriette Steenstrup – it is such a strong cast and I am so proud that I got to be a part of that. It makes everything easier when you are on set with such experienced and talented actors.
NW: What have been some of your favourite moments from working on Ragnarok?
JSG: This whole show has been such a big thing for my whole acting career, this was really the first big thing for me. So I think I developed a lot as an actor through these three seasons and working with the cast and also an amazing Danish crew too.
I spent a lot of time in Odda (Norway) and then over in Copenhagen (Denmark) shooting the series so we’ve been travelling a lot with the show which makes it even more special.
It wasn’t the case of shooting and then going home – you almost felt like you were within this universe throughout the whole shooting period. It is sad that is has all come to an end.
NW: I wanted to finish up and ask you about the soundtrack to Ragnarok – there is such an incredible mix of music on there throughout the season. What have been some of your favourite tracks used in the series?
JSG: Oh wow, that is a difficult question! I loved the intro music used in the first season (M83 – Midnight City) but I think my favourite are from the third season which are super epic! It is a great combination of very emotional songs along with some tracks that will give you goosebumps.