Before they were famous

29 Augusti 2014 | 02:00

Discover The Lesser-Known Movies of These 10 Swedish Actors

Find out what Alexander Skarsgård, Alicia Vikander and Joel Kinnaman did before their big international break.

We all have to start somewhere… Some of them went straight to stardom, some made almost 100 films before getting a break in Hollywood. More Swedish actors than ever are invading the States but what did they do before? MovieZine has the answer.

Alicia Vikander


You've seen her in: Anna Karenina, The Fifth Estate
Also watch: Hotell (Hotel), Till det som är vackert (Pure), Kronjuvelerna (The Crown Jewels)

The beautiful brunette almost came from nowhere – that is, a row of short films and work in TV (including infamous fiasco soap opera “Andra avenyn”) – when she made a glorious film debut in the starring role as mentally unstable receptionist with a fatal crush in the drama “Till det som är vackert”. The role earned her not only the Swedish film award Guldbaggen but also a newfound star career, offering strong, supporting roles in Hollywood features such as “Anna Karenina” and “The Fifth Estate” as well as leading roles in Nordic films like “Hotell” and Oscar-nominated “A Royal Affair”.

Noomi Rapace



You've seen her in: Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Also watch: The Millennium Trilogy, Svinalängorna (Beyond)

The original Lisbeth Salander (from the Swedish ”The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) started early, long before she starred in “Prometheus”, “Sherlock Holmes 2” and that Rolling Stones video. At the age of 18 she played a rebellious teenager in soap opera “Tre kronor” before making her film debut as the older sister of a teenage bully in the drama “Sanning eller konsekvens”. She continued with movies and TV, including indie flicks promoting her acting talent as well as flops like the thriller “Blodsbröder” and TV series “Labyrint”. After the insanely successful “Millennium” series her career skyrocketed and she already collaborated with directors like Ridley Scott, Guy Ritchie and Brian De Palma.

Ola Rapace


You've seen him in: Skyfall
Also watch: Tusenbröder, The Wallander series

More known abroad as the silent assassin in ”Skyfall” - and the ex-husband of Noomi Rapace - Ola comes from a long experience of acting on film as well as TV and theatre. After his film debut as the sexually experimental hippie Lasse in Lukas Moodysson’s “Together” he has played various intense characters in both films and TV series. He made a name for himself with starring roles in crime drama “Tusenbröder” and the long-running detective series “Wallander”. Now considered one of Sweden’s top actors, some of his role choices down the way have been questionable – including sex comedy “Allt om min buske” where he masturbates in a tree or TV comedy “Stockholm Båstad” where he performed nude in some infamous scenes.

Michael Nyqvist



You've seen him in: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Also watch: Tillsammans (Together), The Millennium Trilogy

When Stockholm-born Nyqvist landed the role of journalist Mikael Blomqvist in the original, Swedish ”The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, he had already been acting for over 20 years! He made his feature debut in the child fantasy ”Jim & piraterna Blom” by Hans Alfredson, whose son Daniel coincidentally would direct Nyqvist in three films years later. Aside from a successful career within theatre, he started playing minor roles (Bille August’s “Jerusalem”, Colin Nutley’s “Sånt är livet”, Daniel Alfredson’s “Tic Tac”) until landing bigger parts as one of the cops of the early series of “Beck”, one of the acting prison inmates in comedy “Vägen ut” and the abusive husband in Lukas Moodysson’s “Vägen ut”. With the comedy ”Grabben i graven bredvid” and Oscar-nominated ”As It is in Heaven” he became one of Sweden’s most popular actors and after the “Millennium” series he started getting work in Hollywood, most notably playing the villain in “Mission: Impossible 4” and as a main cast member on TV series “Zero Hour”.

Joel Kinnaman


You've seen him in: The Killing, RoboCop
Also watch: Snabba Cash (Easy Money) Trilogy

The actor who dared to step into the shoes of film’s most iconic 80s superpolice – “Robocop” – has had his share of interesting titles to fill up the resume. At the age eleven he made his debut in the soap opera “Storstad” and didn’t return to acting until 12 years later playing a teen criminal taking part in a violent assault in “Den osynlige”. He followed up with roles of nice guys in teen drama “Hannah med H” as a friendly skinhead and 80s throwback “Tjenare kungen” as a young writer. After a supporting role in the high-budget ”Arn: Riket vid vägens slut” he snatched a role as an undercover cop in the film series about ”Johan Falk” before the star-making lead in ”Easy Money”. The latter bought him a one-way ticket to Hollywood where he got a starring role in popular TV series “The Killing” leading to appearances in sci-fi “The Darkest Hour”, action fair “Safe House” (by “Easy Money” director Daniel Espinosa) and the indie romcom “Lola Versus”.

Mikael Persbrandt


You've seen him in: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Also watch: Hämnden (In A Better World), Mig äger ingen (Nobody Owns Me)

The actor from the ”Hobbit” series and Oscar-winning drama ”In a Better World” is mostly famous in Sweden as the star of acclaimed two book-series-turned-film, “Beck” (as Gunvald Larsson) and “Hamilton”. Coincidentally two of his first roles were bit parts in earlier versions of those series – a van driver in Hamilton TV series “Fiendens fiende” (1990) and as a policeman in “Polismördaren” (1994). But the audience fully noticed him first as a bomb villain in the popular 90s cruiseship soap opera “Rederiet”. Has during the years become one of Sweden’s most well-known and used actors, in both action movies as well heavier drama films. Like any long resume it’s not without flaws – laughable gangster flicks like “9 millimeter” and the conveniently titled “Gangster”, and last but not least the infamous turkey “Tre solar” where he sported a hilarious medieval wig.

Izabella Scorupco


You've seen her in: GoldenEye, Exorcist: The Beginning
Also watch: Ingen kan älska som vi (Only We Can Love Like This)

The Polish-born Bond girl had a lot of experience in different fields already before she starred opposite Pierce Brosnan in “GoldenEye”. She made her film debut in 80s teen romance “Ingen kan älska som vi” before going on to a successful career as a model and pop singer. She returned to acting via TV comedies like “V som i Viking” and “Bert” before landing a leading role in the medieval fiasco “Petri tårar”. Besides later Hollywood roles and some mildly popular Swedish films, she also starred in the turkey “Dykaren” and her first (and so far only) Polish film, the historical war flick ”With Fire and Sword”.

Gustaf Skarsgård


You've seen him in: Vikings, The Way Back
Also watch: Ondskan (Evil), Den osynlige (The Invisible), Vi (Us)

It’s been a long way for Gustaf, the second eldest son of actor Stellan, to Oscar-nominated films like “The Way Back” and “Kon-Tiki”, as well as TV series “Vikings”. He actually made his film debut at the age of nine, playing the son of real-life father Stellan in the spy thriller “Täcknamn Coq Rouge”. He played smaller roles, such as the cocky brother of the young hero in TV drama “Min vän Percys magiska gymnastikskor” and a rebellious teen in mini series “Skuggornas hus” before landing his first leading role in “Den osynlige” (later remade in Hollywood as “The Invisible”). The role of the title character’s son in the sitcom “Cleo” followed before the big break in Oscar-nominated “Evil”, from where he slowly he turned into a reliable household name within the Swedish acting scene.

Alexander Skarsgård


You've seen him in: True Blood, Battleship, Generation Kill
Also watch: Hundtricket (The Dog Trick), Kill Your Darlings

Being the oldest son of acting veteran Stellan Skarsgård, it’s been a hard and bumpy way to prove himself as something more than a famous last name. Alexander made his debut as early as the age of eight as the best friend of the title hero in “Åke och hans värld” (co-starring dad Stellan) before making an adult comeback in soap opera “Vita lögner”, followed by a line of unsuccessful attempts at movie stardom. After he made his Hollywood debut as one of Ben Stiller’s bubble-brained model roommates in “Zoolander” he earned a nomination for Swedish film award Guldbaggen for playing a reality show star in the comedy “Hundtricket”. The Swedish audience failed to appreciate the admittedly talented actor and it would take several other films – including another Hollywood flirt with the forgotten Swedish-American “Kill Your Darlings” where he played a transvestite – before his big Hollywood break with TV shows “True Blood” and “Generation Kill”. After Lady Gaga videos, indie favorites like “Melancholia” and blockbuster pieces like “Battleship” the tall hunk is up for playing jungle hero Tarzan in an upcoming film version.

Bill Skarsgård


You've seen him in: Hemlock Grove
Also watch: Simon och ekarna (Simon and the Oaks), Kenny Begins, Kronjuvelerna (The Crown Jewels)

As the middle child of the Skarsgård brothers, it’s no surprise Bill has followed in his father Stellan’s and brothers’ footsteps not just acting but also making it in the States. But long before his gig on TV series ”Hemlock Grove”, following a small role in “Anna Karenina”, he made his debut ten years old opposite older brother Alexander in the thriller “Järngänget”. He proved his acting abilities in some short films before landing a supporting role in the high-budget battle adventure “Arn” (co-starring his father Stellan as well as brother Gustaf). After his first leading role in sci-fi comedy “Kenny begins” it didn’t take long until more successful movies were lined up before Hollywood caught up with him.