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Live for Films talks to Julie Christensen – star of new Nordic vampire show “Heartless”

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heartless-1Heartless was created by the writer of ‘The Bridge’ and the director of ‘The Killing’, and features a standout performance from Nikolaj Kopernicus (the assassin of ‘The Killing’) alongsideAllan Hyde (True Blood), Sebastian Jessen and Julie Christiansen (Borgen), and Julie Zangenberg. As compulsive and violent as The Bridge and as visually stunning as The Killing – Heartless is a sexy mix of teenage vampires and the best of Nordic drama.

A beautiful supernatural thriller set in an elite Danish boarding school. Twins Sofie and Sebastian (Sebastian Jessen and Julie Zangenberg, Borgen) are no ordinary students. They were born with a curse and carry a dark and fatal secret: in order to live, they need to suck the energy out of other people. However, if they don’t stop their sucking in time, their victims will burn to death.

Sofie and Sebastian try to find a way to overcome their curse but their new life at the school does not make it easy for them, especially as they have to contend with other more normal teen emotions. However, the siblings are not the only ones with secrets – a mystery that dates back to the year 1666 emerges, with elements of sin, life, death and mysterious powers.

Heartless is a spellbinding, saucy vampire thriller set against a magnificent backdrop of ancient forests, dark lakes and crumbling country houses. The series launched as a full box set on January 3, 2016, exclusively on All4.com/WalterPresents.

Launched on January 3, 2016, Walter Presents is a brand new on-demand service showcasing the world’s best foreign-language drama. The service will be exclusively available FREE in the UK, via Channel 4’s new digital hub, All 4.

I recently caught up with one of the stars of Heartless when they visited Channel 4: Julie Christensen, who plays Emilie Just. Emilie is the daughter of the school’s headmaster (played by Nikolaj Kopernicus), falls in love with the vampiric Sofie (Julie Zangenberg), and comes from a family of witches – meaning she has inherited certain powers…

The whole series is available to watch for free right now – which you should totally do because it sizzling, horrifying and addicting – but consider this a spoiler warning.

 

…I loved the show by the way.

Thank you.

 

I double billed the final two episodes last night…

Ahhh, thanks!

 

… and I have things I wanna ask you about how it ended, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Oh yeah? I have things I want to ask too about the end… the writer.

Heartless-Emilie-Clara-1-600x338

To start off with: what was it like going back to school?

Um, it was fun, it was really fun. It was nice to be so close with all the rest of the cast – because we lived there al lot of the time. It was far away, so sometimes we stayed there.

 

And how did you find working with Nikolaj Kopernicus (The Killing), who plays your father? Was that intimidating at all?

Yeah. I wasn’t intimidated or anything because he’s really funny, hilarious guy. He’s really like cool, and down to earth. But it’s funny because a lot of you guys have mentioned him because he was in The Killing, he was the killer, but I didn’t think about that because he’s a huge star in Denmark – he’s been in billions of different things.

 

How did you find portraying someone with psychokinetic powers? As an actress how do you go about portraying that? Is it all in the intense stare?

I think that everyone has been dreaming about doing stuff like that, so I’m just imagining doing it, then obviously we have a lot of really good special effects people, so a lot of the times the things really did move! They were pulling strings or whatever, so I was more surprised when I came home and found out Icouldn’t do it.

 

One of the two big sequences where you use your powers is the scene in the church, where you hoist Sofie up in the air…

Yeah!

 

…was that done with wire work? Were you both their at the time? How did it work?

It was a stunt girl. It wasn’t her. She was hanging up there, but the thing where she actually had to shoot up there was a really cool stunt girl with the same colour hair.

 

Your character probably goes through the most upheaval in the show. I think your character changes an awful lot between episode one and episode eight. Was that one of the things that attracted you to the role in the first place?

Yes, it was. Her strength, her high morals… yeah. I liked her.

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You have some animosity toward your dad, but when you find out yours and Sofie’s family histories you take his side immediately and want to follow the tradition; but then after the confrontation with Sofie about it you’re not really sure anymore. Your character is very conflicted – was that interesting to portray?

It was. Some of the scenes I was doing I was like [to the director] “What are you actually asking me to feel right now? Because I just found out my dad has killed my mum, and now I have to choose between my family, or my love?! How do you deal with that?” I have a scene where I go into Sofie’s room, and I tell her “You were right. He did kill her” and I wasn’t supposed to start crying, but then we did a couple of takes and we were talking and all of a sudden the director took me out of the room. He said “Just think about what you’re saying Julie. You’re saying “My dad killed my mum!” Then I went in there and just started sobbing. So yeah, it was crazy!

 

I bet. I’m sure, when shooting out of sequence, it’s also very hard to keep track of what emotional state your character should be in for certain scenes. I guess you have to rely on your director a lot for that.

Yeah. Yeah. And we had two of the best directors in Denmark to do these things and they were like “Just remember you’ve just been here, and this is where you’re coming from” so yeah, they helped a lot!

 

Hah. It’s like you have to do a “Previously on Heartless” thing before every shot so you know where you are.

[laughs] Yeah, exactly!

 

What was your favourite scene to shoot? You have quite a few really good ones, but what was your personal favourite? And then I’ll tell you mine.

OK! I loved working with the sisters. I have a scene in the kitchen when I’m confronting my older sister about “Don’t you ever just want to run away? And what job is it that our family has?” I don’t get it, and it’s frustrating. Then I start to move a glass for the first time – that was my favourite.

 

My personal favourite is the scene where you go on the date with the new head prefect in the woods, and you bring the tree down across the road as he’s chasing after you in the car. I thought that was brilliant.

Oh, yeah! I loved that too because, Alan, that actor is in True Blood and we’re really good friends. We did a Danish Western thing, and we’ve known each other forever, so we had a lot of fun doing that. The tree was… There was no tree when I was out there bringing it down and he stopped the car, then we went back to our trailers and they actually brought the tree down, and we were standing like ten feet… metres away.

Julie Zangenberg & Julie Christiansen

Julie Zangenberg & Julie Christiansen

So… I want to talk about the finale. You said at the start that you wanted to talk to the writer about it. Was that because you are a bit confused, or that you didn’t like it?

I’m not confused, I’m just interested in what’s going to happen.

 

Cool. So what do you want to happen for your character? Where do you want to go?

I want her to find herself. I think she’s been so bombarded with… …

 

Everyone else’s stuff?

Yeah, and what my dad wants me to be, and what do I want? I have no idea. I want her to find something she is passionate about. I think she could do something important in the world under the right circumstances, because she’s a cool person.

 

The powers that all the sisters have – we see you moving things, and we see your little sister killing things and bringing them back to life – is it kind of like an X-Men-y thing where you all have different powers, or do you think that you can all do everything, you just haven’t discovered how yet.

I think we all have our own thing. That’s how I see it, but I don’t know. I don’t even know about my older sister.

 

That’s right! We still don’t know what she can do yet! She could potentially be more powerful than both of you…

Yeah, but our dad says I have the most powers.

 

Oh, yes. When he gives you the heart. That’s true. What we do see happen at the end is your sister bringing Nadja and Sebastian back…

Right.

 

And their eyes change colour… but they’re not black like the vampires… It looked very much to me like they might actually be… zombies?

Yeah, me too. I think whatever they’re coming back as… I think they’re evil.

But I honestly don’t know.

 

Do you think they’ll introduce more…

…creatures?

 

Yeah, because you have vampires, and witches, and now maybe zombies, and then? Werewolves?

That would be cool. Yeah, that would be fun!

 

Are you going to stay in the school for the second series?

We’re going out into the world. I think the next thing – I met the writer the other day, and he said “Whatever it’s gonna be, it’s not gonna be at the school”. I’m excited about that.

 

[whispers] I’m excited about that!

Plus, we’re too old to be in school!

 

If you could be killed by any movie monster, which one would it be, and what would your last words be?

Anything but Jaws, because I’m so afraid of sharks! I think maybe.. movie monster… The bear from The Revenant.

 

Ah, cool! Would you have any last words after you’re mauling?

I think I would say [laughing] “I love you” to all the people that I love! That’s so stupid! [laughs]

 

[laughs] I think that’s the first time anyone has ever given a genuine answer to that question! My last one is: if you could star in the remake of any film, which one would it be, and what part would you play?

Oh, that’s a good question! Titanic, and Rose.

 

Nice. Thank you.

Thank you! I love how prepared you are – you’ve actually seen the show!

 

 

Heartless is available to watch in full NOW and FREE at All4.com/WalterPresents, the brand new on-demand service showcasing the world’s best foreign-language drama.

If you enjoyed that interview, then stayed tuned to Live for Films as we will also have interviews with Sebastian Jessen and Julie Zangenberg, who play the vampire twins, shortly.

 

Top photo by Signe Alvarez Øllgaard

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