With only four episodes to go of Trapped – that’s two weeks in BBC4 money – things are, ahem, hotting up in the freezing cold of Iceland. One of the delights of the show is watching how its two main characters – Andri (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and Hinrika (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir) – go about their business. While not quite so pronounced in their differences as, say, a Martin or Saga from The Bridge, their relationship is, nonetheless, a close one and an entertaining one – he’s the big, empathetic one; she’s the practical, non-nonsense one. No wonder Hinrika has gained quite a following on social media. I interviewed Ólafur Darri Ólafsson last week, so it was only natural I got to chat to Ilmur – an award-winning actress and screenwriter in her own right – too. Her words are after the jump.
The Killing Times: What attracted you to Hinrika when you first read the script? What was your first impressions of her on the page?
Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir: I think it was, first and foremost, a kind of earth connection. She was very down to earth, and not bullshitting. In the first scene she’s actually giving the mayor’s wife a ticket for parking illegally. This scene was taken out, but the woman was calling the police station and complaining about Hinrika. And she said, ‘no you don’t get special treatment for being the mayor’s wife!’ So she was this type, with no bullshit and not being afraid of authority. And being very independent, and having opinions. I thought about her past. I thought she probably went through something; like experiencing some sort of death or trauma.
TKT: Over on social media, there’s talk of starting a Hinrika Appreciation Society. Why do you think she has struck such a chord with viewers?
IK: [laughs] I’m so behind with social media! I didn’t know she was so popular! I think it is because she is that no bullshit type, you know? And you really trust her. You know, in our society we’re always fighting people not being honest. Dishonesty. And like politicians… you never know who to trust. But you feel you can trust her; trust her to the core. And this is something I wanted to build on.
TKT: I spoke with Ólafur Darri Ólafsson about the fact that Trapped is almost a post-2008 financial crash drama. Are you saying that Hinrika represents something about Iceland that a lot of Icelanders has gone missing from society?
IL: Yeah, I think she has all the things that we all want to have: to fight for the truth or being very strong and opinionated about what is true and what is right. And not being the type who says, ‘Maybe it’s ok if they can do that…’ It’s all the things that we hate about the world today – everyone being like clay, where you push them wherever if you have the right money or the right words. Too much bullshit! Without trying, she is just true to the core.
TKT: Her eyebrows are particularly popular here. Did you know that?
IL: [laughs] No, I didn’t know that! So funny.
TKT: Hinrika is becoming more and more crucial to Andri as the mystery continues. Can you talk about their relationship?
IL: The do respect each other and they trust each other, and they respect each other’s honesty. But he has this kind of past. He has this past in the police in Reykjavik. He is really fleeing something, and he has these skeletons in his closet. In your next episode, Hinrika sees what effect Trausti has on him. She’s trying to be supportive but also shaking him, saying to him to get a grip. He is all of a sudden every affected by his past. He has her to hold on to when his mind goes everywhere – with Trausti, and his ex-wife and her new boyfriend… he’s like wooo in his head. Hinrika’s very important to him to help him stay on track.
TKT: She found out some secrets about Bárður, thanks to Rögnvaldur’s telescope. They were very touching scenes between Hinrika and Rögnvaldur…
IL: This is the biggest thing she’s ever been involved in, and she discovers Rögnvaldur’s been spying on her. But she also thinks that they have something in common – I think she senses he’s not really a threat, perhaps just a lonely guy. Also his story touches her. He asks her if she’s ever been alone, so he sees a little bit into her soul. He has seen something in her that makes him think she has been very alone. This also I think makes her the very strong person she is.
TKT: There are signs that things are becoming very stressful for Hinrika. Does she represent a lot of people in Iceland since the financial crash?
IL: Of course she is human, and it’s a big thing. She’s not a hero. That’s what also I liked about her – she’s very normal. It’s hard for her to accept and stay on track and keep focused while these terrible things are happening in this little, small town. They’re her people. So we do see these cracks… she is of course scared as well.
TKT: There’s lots of chat on Twitter during Trapped about the items of clothing you guys wear in the show in such bad weather. Andri doesn’t seem to wear too much, but Hinrika’s outfits seem to be perfect for the weather…
IL: [laughs] Yeah! I think the thing about this is that Hinrika is very practical. If there’s bad weather, she wears warm clothes. So it’s like equal. But with Andri, he’s the kind of type that is always hot. Our screenwriter was answering questions on Twitter the other day and lots of people were telling him to tell Andri to zip up his coat! But he’s the type who doesn’t. He’s a warm soul, you know? For example Sigurður, he’s that clay type we were talking about – ‘what opinion do you want me to have? kind of type – he’s always cold. Always shaking, oh I’m so cold. It’s the character!
TKT: What’s it like to film in such bad conditions?
IL: It really is like this. We were working in the north part of Iceland. We were trapped actually! There were many actors and crew, so we were like a small community. Some of the actors were doing some theatre and we couldn’t fly them in, so it really was amazing how it was produced and how everything came together. The weather was very much on our side for the TV show, but perhaps not for the production. I just lived there. I recently had a son and my family was there with me, so we were really well taken care of. But I really felt for the crew because they were outside maybe 12 hours a day, every day. They were amazing. You know how actors are – they are always put in cotton. We were every well taken care of.
Interview by Paul Hirons (@Son_Of_Ray)