Actor Alice Bier Zandén tells us about her breakout role as ‘Ehrengard’ in new Danish Netflix fairytale comedy

As Alice Bier Zandén joins our early morning call from Denmark, she’s just enjoyed coffee and pastries. Instantly we hit it off discussing our love of sweet baked goods.

Aside from that, we’re also disussing a new Netflix feature film comedy that has just been released called ‘Ehrengard: the Art of Seduction‘, in which Alice plays the title character of Ehrengard. The film is directed by Academy Award, Golden Globe and two-time Palme d’Or winner, Bille August, and is based on one of the last works of Karen Blixen, a Danish poet and writer.

Alice plays a composed woman of high society in Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction. Credit: Nikolaj Thaning Rentzmann, courtesy of Netflix

This funny, theatrical tale takes place in a fairytale kingdom where the Grand Duchess hires her playful painter, Mr. Cazotte, to teach her timid son how to seduce women so as to find him a wife and secure an heir. An heir is then conceived, but outside of wedlock, meaning that the royal family must go into hiding until the baby is born.

Cazotte arranges for a maid of honor to go with them – Ehrengard – and he sees this as his opporunity to play a game of seduction himself, but Ehrengard is not falling for it.

We hear from Alice on her experience working on the film, alongside Danish stars such as Sidse Babett Knudsen, who plays the Grand Duchess, Jacob Lohman, and Mikkel Boe Folsgaard.

Alice playing Ehrengard, in costumes designed by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Nordic Watchlist: Tell us more about your role in Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction?

Alice Bier Zandén: I play Ehrengard, a woman who has been raised soley with boys. She knows how to ride and do fencing. She is not very into all the accessories, jewellery and grand dresses that were so common in that era.

She is much more of a straight-forward character with high ideals and had a lot to live up to in her family. She is a very strong woman who takes care of her dignity and integrity but begins to get tricked when she meets Cazotte, played by Mikkel Boe Følsgaard.

NW: What was it like wearing period costumes and filming in castle sets which the Danish Queen has been involved in designing?

ABZ: That was something so new to me and an absolute dream. It was like my childhood dreams had come true getting to wear these beautiful and amazing costumes that the Queen herself had designed.

They weren’t so practical when you needed the toilet though! It really got me thinking what it must have been like in those times.

The dresses and the costumes very much determine the status of your character, so that was such a pleasure to wear them.

Image courtesy of Netflix.

NW: What drew you to this role?

ABZ: Everything drew me to this story. You have Bille August directing which is amazing, and playing alongside the likes of Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Sidse Babett Knusde, and to have the Queen herself involved. Everything about it was simply wonderful.

NW: How important was it to be involved with talented people and get to learn from them? There is such a great mix of the older generation and new, with the likes of yourself and Emilie Koppel Kroyer.

ABZ: I think it creates such a great dynamic. I had so much fun watching all the actors perform, both the older and the younger generations. I was trying to absorb everything I could and learn by seeing them because they were all inspiring – they created such a harmonious energy together.

NW: Just getting to see Jacob Lohman being grumpy must have been fun too right?

ABZ: I could sit and watch Jacob being grumpy with Sara-Marie Maltha all day!

NW: How familiar were you with Bille August’s work? Was he a director you were following before shooting Ehrengard?

ABZ: I had been following a bit, and even when I was in school I was shown Pelle The Conqueror which is also quite a masterpiece. I certainly admire his work and I like how this movie is a little more different for him. I like the fact that it is fun and entertaining in a poetic kind of way.

NW: We couldn’t help but the notice this magical Denmark that had appeared in the film – with mountains and waterfalls. Now those of us familiar with Denmark’s geography will know that this is a fictional place, but what about some of the interiors shots of the castles and mansions?

ABZ: The story takes place is the fictional place of Babenhausen, which Karen Blixen had created. However, we filmed in all of these extraordinary old Danish castles and settings that have been kept in their period styles.

It was like walking about in these museums and I was just absorbing all the beauty.

NW: Was there ever the concern of knocking something over in there and breaking a part of history?

ABZ: I am actually pretty clumsy and the crew picked up on that so whenever I came walking in they made sure I was being very careful. Ehrengard is way more cooler than I am.

Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as Cazotte and Alice as Ehrengard. Image courtesy of Netflix.

NW: How did it work out for you when it came to the fencing and horse riding scenes?

ABZ: Well I did practise my fencing and horse riding skills but I have to give a big shout out to my stunt men and women in this film who made me look so super elegant when in reality it is all them. I would jump on the horse and the next cut is someone else.

NW: So you have dipped your toe in this type of genre now – what other genres might you like to have a go experiencing next?

ABZ: To be honest, I am open to any kind of super action movie or maybe a musical. I am open to all types really, just as long as there is a connection there. Though, an action would be so much fun!

Alice Bier Zandén as Ehrengard. Image courtesy of Netflix © 2023

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