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Scan Magazine | Cover Feature | Signe Egholm Olsen

The hour of Signe Egholm Olsen A regular feature across Danish theatre stages over the past decade, known to Nordic Noir fans as the young human rights activist of Borgen, Signe Egholm Olsen has just taken the next step towards international recognition and Nordic Noir deification. The Danish actress talks to Scan Magazine about starring alongside Sofie Gråbøl in The Hour of the Lynx, the tired platitude of the workaholic woman who is somewhat incomplete without family, and how motherhood helped bring perspective to the job she loves. By Linnea Dunne | Main Photo: Robin Skjoldborg

To Nordic Noir fans outside of her native Denmark, she is probably best known as Anne Sophie Lindenkrone, the human rights activist and Solidarity Party leader from Borgen. But Signe Egholm Olsen never wasted any time, having known from an early age that she wanted to be an actress, and since graduating from the Danish National School of Theatre in 2003 she has graced many a stage and TV screen, appearing in films such as Nordkraft (Angels in Fast Motion, 2005) and Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (2007) as well as countless productions in Denmark’s most respected theatre houses. “I started in an amateur theatre group for kids when I was about 12, and that was a point of no return for me,” the actress recalls. “I made lots of friends and felt really comfortable there, and comfortable on stage, and from then on I was really just waiting to turn 18 so that I could apply to theatre school.” As her latest big project, the film The Hour of the Lynx, is released on DVD and digital download in the UK this month, it seems the only way for the

actress is up – but she admits to feeling detached from any success narrative. “I guess with hindsight, when you see the whole picture, I’ve been lucky. I’ve had some really good roles, mostly in theatre…” she says and pauses for a moment. “I’m a freelancer and sometimes it’s quiet and other times I’ve got too much work, but it’s hard to see it from the outside and say what’s good or bad. I’ve been in the business 10 years now, but I still feel like I’m a bit young to talk like that.” The same goes for the huge success of Borgen, in which Egholm Olsen starred as Solidarity Party leader Anne Sophie Lindenkrone alongside other celebrated Nordic Noir stars such as Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Pilou Asbæk. “I feel like it’s such a Danish thing, the whole plot around Borgen, and I think we were all a bit confused that it ended up being such a huge success,” she says. “I’m really glad to have been a part of it, of such a great cast working with so many talented directors. And also,

it was a real challenge: I’ve never played a political character before, so I really had to work hard on getting all the political lines to come out smooth and natural!” Nordic Noir heroine In The Hour of the Lynx, Egholm Olsen stars against another of Nordic Noir’s darlings, Sofie Gråbøl, this time in a production offering not one but two of the genre’s typical heroines. A scientist working with patients at a high-security psychiatric ward, Egholm Olsen’s character, Lisbeth, approaches priest Helen (played by Gråbøl) for help with a young suicidal man who talks a lot about God. “It’s a classic drama in a way, because of the tension between science and religion and these two women doing what they can with what they believe in, but at the same time I guess it shows that we are bigger than any titles – both women are just human beings, deeply touched by this boy,” ponders the actress, continuing: “She’s very… it’s hard to get to know this person, Lisbeth. But that’s also what makes her such an interesting character to work with: she is so persistent, very focused, and she completely gets lost in her work. Some would have read the script and called her unempathetic, but I never thought so – I understood her.” The workaholic loner heroine is a character that sounds all too familiar to Nordic Noir fans, but Egholm Olsen does not even seem to have considered how the

Issue 69 | October 2014 | 9

Profile for Scan Group

Scan Magazine | Issue 69 | October 2014  

Promoting Brand Scandinavia. Featuring interview with actress Signe Egholm Olsen.

Scan Magazine | Issue 69 | October 2014  

Promoting Brand Scandinavia. Featuring interview with actress Signe Egholm Olsen.