Carmen Curlers is a fun Danish drama set in the 1960s inspired by real events and available now through Walter Presents on All4.
Energetic but chaotic businessman Axel Byvang (played by Morten Hee Anderson) is a serial inventor and entrepreneur who hasn’t made it yet but is determined to prove his critics wrong. One fateful day in a hair salon he is struck by inspiration and his latest product is born. He finds the money and has the big dream, but it’s the talented, ordinary people around him who help him make the dream a reality.
One of those people is hairdresser Frans, played by Nicolai Jørgensen, who is a breakout star of the series. Nordic Watchlist spoke to him about the series – and the next film he stars in called ‘Hygge!”
Nicolai joins a video call with me from a cold and rainy Copenhagen. Winter has finally arrived, he says, but with the worse weather comes the chance to get cosy and enjoy time indoors.
Nordic Watchlist – Alex: Yeah, that’s the good side of it, get the candles lit and watch some nice, comforting movies!
Nicolai: I think it is a favourite time of year for me.
Nordic Watchlist: Sounds like a perfect time to release a film called ‘Hygge‘, right? But let’s get onto that a bit later. First, let’s talk about Carmen Culers. Were you ever ready for just how successful this series was going to be?
Nicolai: No, not at all. Where we were shooting the first season there was never this feeling that we were making something huge; we loved making it and had big ambitions for it but the sheer impact it had on Danish television? We didn’t see that coming.
Nordic Watchlist: One of the series’ strengths is its focus on the characters, giving them their own special moments in each episode – what were your thoughts and feelings towards your character? What were the kind of things that drew you to that character, that you enjoyed about him?
Nicolai: Well first and foremost I had originally said no to the casting. I hadn’t read the script at the time but I was just so busy, I didn’t know it was for DR which is one of the biggest TV stations in Denmark either.
My agent called me up and said I should really consider it – they pointed out that it was going to be a Sunday series which is a really big deal in Denmark. I read the part and totally fell in love with my character Frans.
There is so much to dig into with his character. He comes from nothing with a very low self-esteem. And then he has this big business and life journey. And there is of course his sexuality – is he homosexual, bisexual, or pansexual? He ultimately falls in love with a man and that was something I had never acted before, as a heterosexual man.
Amongst the series storyline of the rise and fall of the Carmen Curlers business, something that is loosely based on the true history of the people behind the invention, the series begins to centre on its main characters giving them a platform to see their own story arcs.
One particular storyline is that of Frans’ personal journey, which comes to crescendo in episode six which sees Frans head off on his own adventure which is fraught with both emotional awakenings and pulling back the curtain on some darker sides of history and discrimination.
Nicolai: Instagram started blowing up after that episode!
Nicolai’s chemistry with his co-stars is certainly one of his strengths. His main co-star, and central character in the series, is Morten Hee Andersen. I first discovered this actor when I saw the series Deliver Me where he played a really, REALLY horrible guy – so much so that I felt a little petrified interviewing him so soon after the series. Here in Carmen Curlers Nicola’s plays the yin to Morten’s yang – one is cool, calm and methodical, whereas the other acts like a bull in a china shop.
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Nordic Watchlist: Had the pair of you worked together before?
Nicolai: We both went to the same acting school together. He graduated a couple of years before me but we had worked together on small projects at the school.
Nordic Watchlist: Season two has already started over in Denmark – can you give us a little synopsis of what to expected?
Nicolai: I can tell you a little bit…Everything is going great for Carmen Curlers with the brand being immensely successful. They have almost conquered all of Europe and now they are ready to expand in the United States.
Along with the release of the second season Carmen Curlers, there is also a brand new film which has a stacked cast of Danish stars, including Nicolai, and is named after perhaps one of the things Denmark is most famous for – hygge.
The film is directed by Dagur Kári Pétursson whose previous films include the Icelandic cult classic Noi The Albino.
Nicolai: I think this movie has a world record for most remakes. Ever.
Nicolai isn’t wrong – the original was made in 2016, an Italian film called ‘Perfect Strangers‘ and has since been remade in 18 different countries.
Nicolai: The director, although Icelandic, was educated at the Danish film school and has lived in Denmark for many years. So he’s like an outsider, but it feels like he knows us inside out. He has clearly become a very observant human being.
Nicolas holds up his own copy of Meik Wiking’s Little Book of Hygge.
Nicolai: You have this book?
Nordic Watchlist: We certainly do.
Nicolai: So hygge is a way to make time to connect with your family, your friends, and whoever you are spending time with. A time to talk about important things, relax, without distractions.
The film has been rewritten from the original script because it was a little outdated and we wanted it to fit a little more with the Danish perspective of things.
It is about a group of people who try to come together and have a good time but it appears that that seems physically impossible for them. They’re not connected and are living their lives in bitterness and pain because they’re not talking about issues that they might have. They come together to celebrate a birthday for one of the brothers of the family who’s in a coma.
One of the brother’s brings his new girlfriend who suggests a game where they put their mobile phones on the table and anything that is received is read aloud to the entire table. As you can imagine, chaos ensues!
Nordic Watchlist: Okay, I am sold on this!