Heida Reed takes lead in Icelandic crime drama Stella Blomvist

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Last year we brought you news of an Icelandic series – Stella Blomvist – and the fact that one of the writers on Trapped, Óskar Thór Axelsson, had been drafted in to work on the project. It was an interesting premise: Based on a series of first-person novels penned by the pseudonymous Stella Blomkvist, a hard-nosed lawyer who takes on mysterious murder cases, the series delves into the murky waters of Icelandic politics, recently in the news in the aftermath of the “Panama Papers” scandal. No English-language translation exists, but the makers – who have been touting the series at the French Series Mania TV festival – have announced that there is now a lead.

Icelandic actress Heida Reed, who we’ve seen on British TV screens in period drama Poldark, has been confirmed to play the eponymous Stella Blomvist, according to Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

“We are extremely happy to have Heida on board,” production company Sagafilm’s Kjartan Thor Thordarsson told the site. “Heida plays a hard-nosed lawyer who is not afraid of breaking taboos; she takes on projects that allow her to manipulate men, especially men in power.”

Over at Variety, head writer Jóhann Ævar Grímsson said this:

It’s difficult to describe her, because she manages to be so many things. She manages, somehow, to be the detective and the femme fatale in one package – she has that life-weariness and sexiness, combined in one character. She has flexible morality, she’s clever, she’s ruthless, she’s very witty – she’s a person who is navigating through the world on her own. She’s in it for the money, but she has this one niggling problem – she has a conscience and a soft spot for the underdog. She’s kinda like Sam Spade, with a law degree and sexuality. We’re very proud of Stella, and we’re looking forward to introducing her to the world.

He also said this:

There are eight books in the series, currently – the latest book came out just this Christmas, I think. We’re adapting the first book first, and then we’ll see what happens – how well that goes. Then hopefully we’ll do the rest. There will be a book per series. Since the first one dates from 1997 we’ve had to modernise it quite a bit and basically rejig the plotline as well. The first book, and the story we’re adapting, partly, involves the prime minister and it involves a murder in the prime ministry itself, and as we introduce the character, we are immersed in a lot of scandalous things.

The series is touted to run for three, 90-minute episodes, that can be adapted for six 45-minute episode. Here’s Grímsson again:

We were kind of inspired by the Sherlock episodes from the BBC. I’m a big fan of them, and I think the structure there gives you much more closure and a more fun experience. Also, it’s a chance to go out of the norms, try something new. We’ve never tried this format – three 90-minute episodes – here in Iceland, and I’m nothing if not experimental in that regard.

Sagafilm also announced another new series at the festival: The Flatey Enigma. Based on the Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson novel, the four-part series is set in 1971 in the small Icelandic island of Flatey, and follows Johanna, a professor of Nordic Studies who comes home from Paris to attend her father’s funeral. She decides to finish her father’s work, solving the enigmatic riddle of The Book of Flatey, a medieval manuscript with sagas about the Norse kings. According to legend, the riddle will show the final resting place of a great Viking lord. But other people are interested in the riddle including a Danish cryptographer. When a murder is committed, Johanna becomes the prime suspect.

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