Based on the lyrics of the much beloved Swedish musician Håkan Hellström, the movie Känn ingen sorg was eagerly awaited when it debuted in cinemas last week. For Jonathan Andersson, who plays the young drug dealer Johnny, and for Disa Östrand, who portrays the femme fatal Eva, it meant the movie debut they both had longed for.
Two summers ago, Jonathan Andersson, then taking parts in two theater groups in Stockholm, read about the movie Känn ingen sorg in a newspaper while waiting for the subway.
– When I saw the names of the parts they were looking to cast; Lena, Elin, Eva… I remember thinking that I knew those people, Jonathan says when we catch up with him and Disa Östrand the day after the premier. I had been listening to Håkan Hellström for years and I could see the places, the people, and the set in front of me, clear as a picture. I knew I wanted to take part in telling this story.
“Håkan Hellström is a great musician, but he is also a poet”
The day after the premiere, Känn ingen sorg received exuberant reviews in the papers, something that Disa and Jonathan are excited and grateful about.
– It’s hard for me to understand, Disa says. I am just so happy that I got the opportunity to work with all these talented people. Everyone has been working so hard, and to get this kind of acknowledgement… I feel blessed. For me it was a big deal just to get Håkan Hellström’s approval, and now to get such great feedback from the press. I feel very proud and happy.
The movie is inspired by Håkan Hellström’s lyrics. Why is that a good source of inspiration you think?
– I find his lyrics so spot on. He is a great musician, but he is also a poet, and he manages to pinpoint so many aspects of life with his songs, says Jonathan. He has a way of describing young people’s struggle to find themselves, and this movie truly captures that. I enjoyed playing Johnny, and I think I found a bit of my own weakness within him. I’ve had friends like him, friendships that have been so intense that they have turned out destructive. And Johnny is so unbalanced. In one way I see him as this little boy who doesn’t want to be alone in his big house and yet he has got this rage inside that makes him abusive to others. It was fantastic to get to know him, and it made me think about my own relationships.
Disa plays the femme fatale Eva, whom the main character Pål – described as Håkan Hellström’s alter ego – falls deeply in love with. She describes the part as a dream come true.
“As soon as the camera starts to roll, I forget about the anticipation. It is somewhat like stepping into water”
– In many ways this was my dream part, Disa says. I got to sing, which I love. Music, especially folk music, has been a big part of my life. My parents were late hippies and they met when they traveled around Europe playing folk music. For me it was very emotional to land my dream job, start working as an actress and sing in a studio, and at times I felt very insecure. Eva is on one hand so fragile and in need for validation, and on the other she seems so confident and almost shameless when playing on her sexuality to get attention. I felt that I could both learn something from her and process some of my own insecurity through her.
Disa and Jonathan made their debut in front of the camera surrounded by nearly a hundred extras, but they could at least take comfort in having their first set together.
– I didn’t even know where the camera was, Jonathan says.
– I had these really high heels on, I could hardly walk on my own, and I was expected to look so cool singing up on the stage. At that point it was comforting knowing Jonathan was as inexperienced as I was, says Disa. It is weird though, because as soon as the camera starts to roll, I forget about the anticipation. It is somewhat like stepping into water. All the tension I feel before dissolves, and I’m comfortable and at ease.
So you feel like film is the right forum for you?
– I would like to do another movie, yes. With the knowledge and experience I have got now I think it would be different. But this experience has inspired me in so many ways, and encouraged me to do everything; act, sing, and sometime in the future maybe direct and make movies myself. Right now I’m going back to school. I have two years left at The National Academy of Dramatic Arts, but I think that I’ve found my place. This is what I want to do for a living, says Disa.
– I’ve been shooting a TV show for SVT, Jonathan tells us. It will run on Swedish television next spring. It is a cool and dark thriller about digital fraud and hackers, called Ettor och Nollor. The story takes place in Gothenburg, just like Känn ingen sorg. But yeah, I can only agree with Disa, acting is definitely what I want to do.
Känn ingen sorg is written by Cilla Jackert and directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein. See it in cinemas now.
Photos by Linda-Maria Birbeck and Morgan Norman.