Headhunters, a stylistic Norweigan import, has caught Hollywood's attention -- with Mark Wahlberg vying for the lead role. Last October Summit Entertainment acquired the American rights to the Jo Nesbø novel which the film is based on. Wahlberg met with the studio about a possible U.S. version but no plans for production yet been announced.
For now, Aksel Hennie is just enjoying praise for his brilliant performance in film. He stars as Roger, a man who compensates for his short physical stature by surrounding himself with luxury and grandeur. He runs a seemingly legit headhunting company, has a trophy wife, and is envied by his peers. But in truth he's a gravely insecure art thief who is convinced that his wife is having an affair.
The International Business Times had the chance to ask Hennie about making Roger a compelling character, how he feels about an American adaptation, and his desire to work in Hollywood.
What was your initial impression of Roger when you first read the script? How did your perception of him change over the course of filming?
My perception of him didn't change that much during the shoot, but when I first read the script I felt like I was on a Character arc rollercoaster. After reading the first five pages of the script, I hated the guy. He was everything that I don't want to be; he wears tailor-made suits, cheats, steals and lies. That's all the things that I don't want to be in one person, and from page 2, page 3, I hated him more and more. Then suddenly on page 6 or 7 he gets problems and I thought, Yeah, hell yeah! You had it coming man. Then by page 12 I was like, That's enough now, he's had enough. He gets so many problems that I start to root for him, and I start to love him.
Though Roger does some questionable things, he is easy to relate to. How did you manage to make him such a sympathetic character?
First of all; Thanks! The final turning point in the film - which for me made the script readable and understandable, comes when Roger Brown wants to be 100 percent honest. I think a lot of us - No, let's say all of us - have done questionable things at some point. And lack of honesty is something we all have been confronted with in our lives. Morten (Tyldum) and me had this headline for the film; Roger Brown's journey towards honesty and that's what the movie's about. I think it's easy for us to see the little kid inside Roger Brown. He's like a little kid afraid of all the big things surrounding him. We just had to get that across and make him likeable enough to be rooted for. And for me as an actor - his journey was just insanely fun and interesting!
It has been reported that Mark Wahlberg is a fan of the Headhunters and wants to developed an American version of the book. What is your opinion on that?
This film will screen in the United States, and there's a bunch of people in the world that don't want to read subtitles - some might not be able to read subtitles. Jo Nesbo has written a great book and we've adapted that for a market. If Hollywood wants to make it again for another, and maybe bigger, market then I think that's great. I've done this film because I think it's an important film to be made, so please, remake the hell out of it! And hopefully a good actor does the Roger Brown part so I can learn from my mistakes. And Mark Wahlberg.... I think he's fantastic. If he would do the movie and play the part I would love it.
Much of the reviews for Headhunters said that Norwegian films are far more exceptional than American productions. Do you think that Headhunters will inspire more creative cinematic ventures in the U.S?
I wouldn't know... I can't really say I agree on American productions being less exceptional... I'm a movie fan. I love good films! And almost all of my favorite movies are American productions. But; if those reviews reflect that people like our movie - then I'm grateful, proud, and really really happy!
Your career has really taken off in Europe. Do you have any plans to work in Hollywood?
My biggest home market is still Norway, even though a lot of people have seen my movies in other countries. The most important thing for me as an actor is my audience. I'm thankful for the opportunities I'm given as a storyteller, and I would LOVE for my audience base to grow even bigger. I absolutely want to work in Hollywood.