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2_9_ScanMag_75_April_2015_Text_Q9_MADS_Scan Magazine 1 07/04/2015 21:36 Page 7

Scan Magazine | Cover Feature | Lasse Hallström

Lasse Hallström:

An outsider looking in It’s been 30 years since a small budget Swedish film with the curious title Mitt Liv som Hund (My Life as a Dog) became an international hit. Since then its director, Lasse Hallström, has been busy adding films to his resumé such as Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Chocolat, The Cider House Rules and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Last month, he was able to add the bitter-sweet comedy The Hundred-Foot Journey. By Paula Hammond | Press photos

Despite critically acclaimed films and commercial success, Hallström is clearly a man who has no intention of resting on his hard-won laurels. “My favourite film is still My Life as a Dog. Although it was based on a book, it was a very personal film for me. In terms of my American movies, it’s probably What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? But these films were made almost 15-20 years ago, so I really need to pick up the pace and quality!”

cut his film-making teeth. “Some of them are kind of camp in a way I never expected,” he laughs, “but I must say in my defence that we often shot two videos in one day – that’s how rushed it was.” Does he have a favourite? “Nooo…Well, maybe the first one, which was Mamma Mia, because it had those close ups of the lips that almost worked as a percussion addition. So that maybe, for all its simplicity, is my favourite.”

Swedish Simplicity

Then, in 1985, My Life as a Dog became the runaway hit of the year, earning the relatively unknown director an Oscar nomination and a place at Hollywood’s high table. “I thought,” he admits, “that it was a very Swedish movie when I made it, but seeing it play to an audience abroad was fantastic because they reacted to exactly the same moments as the Swedish audience. I think that people still respond to the underlying emotions despite the fact that it was very Swedish in terms of location and story.”

Hallström is quietly spoken – passionate about his art – but with a self-effacing humour that is instantly endearing. Although he studied at the Adolf Fredrik's Music School in Stockholm, his joy has always been filmmaking. “I sang. I learnt how to write music and studied music history but I never really considered becoming a musician,” he says. “From the age of about nine or ten, I always wanted to become a filmmaker.” As early inspirations, he cites his father’s amateur documentaries along with the films of Charlie Chaplain, “down-printed to eight millimetre film and screened again and again at home”, but it was when working on music videos for Abba that he

The theme of the tale – the protagonists struggle to find their place in the world – echoes through Hallström’s films. Is this something he identifies with? “Yes, I think I do. I’m no stranger to being on the ‘out-

side’. I’m an outsider still. I’m an outsider in America. I was a shy kid ... so I know how it feels and I can relate to it enough to be attracted to scripts that seem to share those feelings. It’s as though I can be assured that I’m not alone in having those feelings – by hearing laughter or hearing comments from an audience – then I’m suddenly on the inside. I’m not left out as much anymore then I felt I was when I was a kid.” A home away from home Although the Stockholm-born director’s focus as a filmmaker is very much on human relationships, his visuals have an almost hypnotic, quiet beauty. There’s a sense of solitude in his long shadows and dreamy landscapes. Does he enjoy being alone? “I can’t recall needing to be alone but when I was alone I didn’t have a big problem with it. I was always busy with something and if that something wasn’t putting a puzzle together, it was cutting, editing film, or thinking about how to make films. Creating – whether that was painting or drawing or making a sculpture in clay – was always encouraged at home. It was a very stimulating atmosphere.” Hallström now lives in New York and although he keeps a house in Sweden it’s taken him many years to feel as if America is home. “In the first years in America I was pretty much homesick all the time. But now America seems like another home. Coming back to Sweden, though, there’s still all that stimuli. I spent my first 50 years here so depending on where

Issue 75 | April 2015 | 7

Profile for Scan Group

Scan Magazine | Issue 75 | April 2015  

Promoting Brand Scandinavia. Featuring interview with moviemaking legend Lasse Hallström.

Scan Magazine | Issue 75 | April 2015  

Promoting Brand Scandinavia. Featuring interview with moviemaking legend Lasse Hallström.