1. Please tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from and what inspired you to become an actor?
Oh well, that goes a long way back. I now live in Copenhagen, the capitol of Denmark, but I grew up in Aarhus, second biggest city in Denmark.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by films. Genres changed through the years. As a kid in the early 80’s I was hooked on Star Wars and the 007 films. Always wanted to be up there as a part of the action. Throughout my teenage years I turned very much towards horror films, such as the Friday the 13th series, the Freddy Krueger flicks, not forgetting the Halloween films. I still love these films to this day – I still watch any horror film I can get my hands on.
I guess I always just saw acting as a dream that would never come through anyway, which is why I never pursued it. I simply didn’t have the confidence in myself, I suppose. I did different jobs, let myself enroll in the danish army where I spend nearly two years of my life, and all I got out of it was the certain knowledge that it was not what I wanted with the rest of my life. Ironically enough, I’ve played in army characters five times since then, but of course it’s something entirely different.
When I was 25, I was taking courses at a business school in Aarhus – my birth town in Denmark – and I was bored out of my mind. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted either, but I had to do something – couldn’t keep dreaming for the rest of my life, right? At the second year I enrolled in drama classes at the school, and even though the level wasn’t very high, I realized that maybe I did have some potential. I got a lot of positive feedback and people kept telling me to pursue it.
As the year closed to and end I found an add in a local newspaper for a school named “TeaterStudio” in my hometown teaching method acting. They were about to start a new semester and looking for students. I applied, and after a long weekend of extensive auditions, I was one of twelve students to be accepted. It was quite rough and already after the first year we were down to eight students. In the end only seven of us graduated.
The course took three years, you had to pay for everything yourself and the government didn’t want to give you anything while doing it. The Danish government usually gives students what we called “SU” which is just enough money to get by while under education so you can concentrate on that and not having to worry about making a living. However, as Denmark already had three well renowned theater schools, they refused to give us this “SU” during these three years. So, it was three years of full time school and then after that, a full time job. Forget personal life – There wasn’t much time for that. But it didn’t matter. I finally got a taste of what I wanted – although I had known it all along – and I wasn’t about to let go, just because it got a little rough.
2. Who is your biggest influence?
Hard to say, there are a lot of actors I look up to, but I think simply trying to copy them would be a crime. What makes an actor unique is his own expression, otherwise you might as well just hire any copycat off the street. I admire Pacino, DeNiro, Nicholson, Brando and so on – just like anybody else I guess… – I think Kevin Spacey is amazing. Edward Norton is in my eyes probably his generations most gifted actor and I also think Paul Giamatti is fantastic. I’ve always like Emilio Estevez as well ever since I first saw “Young Guns”… That said, I admire them, but I would never try to copy them.
3. Tell us about your recent films “Blank” and “CRAIG”.
Well, “Blank” is actually not a recent film. It was shot way back in 2002, but it was interesting, cause the director wanted to make sort of a “Danish Psycho” as opposed to the “American Psycho”. Obviously, not just a cheap copy, but it was very much inspired by that book. I think he probably took more than he wants to admit from his own personal life and threw in there as well, but it made for a very interesting film in my eyes. It was however only 33 minutes long, so it never really got a real cinema or DVD distribution, although it was shown about six times on Danish TV in 2005. The entire film can be seen on myspace, actually: www.myspace.com/blankthemovie.
“Craig” started out as a bit of an experiment of mine actually. It is my directing debut, and I arrogantly took on the leading part as well – hey, that was nothing, I could do that! – but damn, that was rough.. I’d probably do it again, though. Very exciting to direct. Well, the
film originally started out as a short film for the “Horror Vault” compilation, but I kept getting ideas and twists, and as I suddenly had two gifted producers on it as well, the film just grew from there, and suddenly we had material enough for a 2Â½ hour film. We had to cut some of the ideas short and as it looks, the film will be about 90-100 minutes long. We’re still editing as I write this, but we hope for a premiere in the fall of 2007.
Basically, the film is about a shy guy named Craig who looses both his parents when their house burns down. His sister survives, but due to heavy lack of oxygen, she is send into a deep coma. Craig has only got one friend, Cliff, but he’s got more than enough problems on his own, so he cannot really be there for Craig. Meanwhile, Craig is under
heavy medication, and when he one day looses his precious Lithium pills, his whole world is getting turned upside down.
It was originally intended to be a horror film, and it still is, but I think we managed to get a little drama, suspense and romance thrown in there as well, so I hope people will like it.
4. Of all the films that you’ve done, what would you consider your most memorable roles?
I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of roles I didn’t wanna be without. I love anything from drama, comedy and onto horror. I guess the most fun I’ve had was playing Michael in “Brutal Incasso”, simply because we had a lot of fun and it was a wacky story that just calls for awkward situations. Two other memorable roles are probably as Lasso in “Bubbles” and
Thomas in “Next step”, but that was for various personal reasons, plus I got to interact a lot with my friend and colleague Mads Koudal in those two films.
In the end, I’m happy about almost everything I’ve done. There are of course a few I could probably have done without, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs and I guess, if nothing else, that I learned a lot from all the roles I’ve played.
No matter how old or experienced an actor you may become, you should never hold yourself too proud or “big” to learn something new. You’ll only cheat yourself and stop your development as an actor that way :-)
5. How did you prepare for a role?
Oh, that’s hard to answer….and risky….cause people might misunderstand. Well, one of my teachers once told me that you should always find something you like about any character you play, and if you can’t, you shouldn’t play that character. Well, that might sound disturbing, considering some of the characters I’ve played, eg. Peter in “Blank”, The Chauffeur in “Hellride”, and of course Craig in “Craig”. I found something in all of the characters I could identity with. Obviously, as all three characters end up committing unspeakable crimes is not something I’d condone or do myself, but it’s all in their motivation – What drove them to it, why did they become the way they were. It’s important that you can find their thought pattern and (try to) understand it.
I guess for me, that’s what method acting is about – it’s not a question of “becoming” the character, but being able to portray the character whose actions the audience in some warped way may understand. The keyword is “motivation”, I guess-
I get a little annoyed when actors brag about how they “became a character”, cause to me it’s just talk – you can’t become a character unless you really have a lot of problems on your own, and still that will give you a lot of problems in your life. You can understand the character and “know” (another clichÃ©) him, but you can’t “become” him. To me, that is ridiculous in the borderline of insanity. In short: know your character and know why he does what he does – understand it – but don’t live it! You should be able to snap out of it and be yourself once the director yells “cut”, otherwise it’s just not worth the mental problems it can give later on in life. – but I guess, in the end, all actors have their own different ways of preparing and there really is a lot of ways to do it.
6. What aspects of that character do you identify with?
I guess in the end it’s usually the things you know from yourself. Sometimes it may be hard to find things you and your character have in common, but I believe for me it’s always the best to find the common things and then work from there. Sort of gives you a platform for understanding, I guess. It can be anything, really, even the smallest things can have a significant meaning. Maybe you’ll be the only one to understand it, but it will give you a certain sort of comfort that will allow you to grow “in the character”. I realize that this may sound a bit the contrary to what I said just earlier, but acting is a living organic thing and no two roles are completely the same, but it’s very hard to pinpoint, really.
7. Tell us about your upcoming projects. Give us the scoop!
I’m quite excited about a lot of other projects in which I’ve acted
but is still being edited:
“Hellride” which was shot last year, which is a bloody horror film in the degree of “Haute Tension”. We hope it to be released within the next few months. The director, Emil Ishii, and I became very good friends on this film and we’re currently talking about other projects once this one is finished.
“Hellbilly 58”, directed by Russ Diaper, and starring Tom Savini, Warrington Gillette (Jason in Friday the 13th part 2), John Carl Buechler (director of Friday the 13th part 7), Troma president Lloyd Kaufman (who I was also fortunate enough to appear shortly in “Craig”)
and many, many others. Truly is something special for me, to be credited alongside these people.
“Westbrick Murders” starring Eric Roberts and Vernon Wells, in which I play the role as Officer Sam.
“The Horror Vault” which is a collection of short horror stories, in which I directed and starred in the segment “Mental Distortion”.
“No Right Turn” by David Noel Bourke. Although my part in this film is not very big, it is still one that I’m anxious to see. It’s a dark suspense thriller, which is indeed just my cup of tea. I believe the good people at Toxic Shock TV recently showed an early trailer for
this film? ;-)
“What nobody knows” (working title) by SÃ¸ren Kragh-Jacobsen. A danish political suspense thriller by the same people behind “Mifune’s Last Song”, the third of the dogma films. Not a very big part I play in this, but I am very much looking forward to seeing that one as well..
..and of course.. “Craig”!
Well, there are other things coming up, I’m going to Poland in a weeks time to star in a war drama named “Operation: Sunrise” (working title) which is a Canadian/German/Polish co-production and then in May off to Budapest to shoot “Revenge” which is an English film. Other than that, I’m off to Sweden to shoot a crime thriller and later to Antwerp for a serial killer flick. Ladder two is not quite decided time wise yet, though. So, I’m keeping busy.
I love my job, so I always make space for new projects. I’ve done a lot of each, both indie films and studio films. Both definitely have their charm. I love the indie way of working, always so vibrant and alive.
8. From an actor’s standpoint what is the most important thing a Director can bring to the set?
Well, a director is the one responsible for the whole sha-bang so he better bring something, right? haha..
Well, the best directors are those who are able to communicate and share their passion and vision to the actors. Not all directors find it important that the actor knows “details” like eg. the next shot, if it’s a closeup or so on, or why shots are done like they are. I, as an actor, would like to know things like that, cause it tells me where to put my main concentration once the director yells “action!”. Luckily most directors I’ve worked with have either done it by themselves or been kind and open to share.
It’s quite important that a director makes sure he has his actors full trust. Actors – and I say this being one of them – is often a very sensitive race. We are very aware of how different angles can portray us in unfortunate ways, and therefore it is extremely important that a director takes the time required to gain his actors full trust, that’s the only way he can get an actor to open up totally and in return getting him the best result possible.
Some directors tend to think it helps if you just talk down and ridicule an actor, or telling him to “mind his own business” (yes, I tried that one, but thank god, only once!). That does nothing but create a bad vibe, and that’s a surefire way to get a worse result.
I don’t know if it answered your question – I hope so, hehe
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
Oh yes, but it’s so full of clichÃ©s – Believe in yourself and your skills. If you don’t have skills, earn them. Calling yourself an actor without having acted for real seems a bit arrogant to me. There are people who live and breathe for acting, and unless you do the same, I think you should consider other options. It’s an extremely tough and competitive business and you will be forced to take some serious punches once in a while.
One thing though, should you get success, never take things for granted. Make sure to have your own inner core with you always.
Wow, you could really walk through clichÃ©s in that bit, haha…but nevertheless it’s true.
10. When all is said and done, what 3 things would you like for people to remember about you?
Oh dear, writing a necrolog already? haha..
Well, I guess I’d hope people would first and foremost remember me for having done a good job. I’d like people who knew me to remember me as a nice guy who was easy and fun to work with, and finally I hope my work will keep living even after I myself don’t anymore.. And of course, I wouldn’t hurt my feelings if I accidentally inspired a couple of people on the way, hehe
11. Here’s where we give you a word or phrase and you give us the first thoughts that pop into your mind.
The big Hollywood sign! Would love to work in Hollywood one day, but I think I’ll always come back to my roots.
Toxic Shock TV (shameless plug):
Toxic …what? Hehe, nah just kidding. A nice and reliable source on indie film!
None, really… Let’s talk in ten years and see if it’s still the same! haha
Oh I’ve met a few, luckily not too many. I tend to look at the positive side of things though, so I don’t think any of them should be mentioned, merely forgotten.
The funniest thing that has ever happened to you on a set:
Oh dear….there’s been so many, and right now I can’t even think of any….but anything where things don’t always go as planned I guess. I find that the more people try to avoid laughing, the funnier it gets. I’m stubborn that way, I never break down laughing unless it’s totally unavoidable…and sometimes it is….thank god! hehe
Your biggest “break-thru” moment:
Difficult to say….had a couple of a personal level, the biggest probably on “Brutal Incasso” which I wrote with an acting colleague while we were on acting school. It was amazing to see one’s text come to life as we started the filming. That is a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever forget, probably the one that kept me at the production end of a couple of productions, I guess, even though that’s not where my education is based.
You can only watch three movies for the rest of your life, which three:
Probably……Lost Highway, Se7en and The Crow….and then, Natural Born Killers is also a favorite of mine… (There you go, I snook a fourth one in there! ;-) ) ..I would however probably rather bring a lot of English humor with me, like eg. The Young Ones, Bottom and Monty Python…I’m a big Python and Rik Mayall/Adrian Edmondson fan!
You can only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, which three:
Nine Inch Nails “The Downward Spiral”
David Bowie “Station To Station”
Apoptygma Berzerk “You And Me Against The World”
Apoptygma Berzerk actually allowed me to use their song “In This Together” from that very album on the end credits of “Craig”, which I’m incredibly thankful for.
You’re most welcome! Anyway, those who are interested can check my personal homepage at www.sonderholm.net/en or since I’m, like so many others, have become a bit of a myspace addict, at www.myspace.com/sonderholm.