photography, post production & fashion Olivia Arte 

sweater Henrietta Frihammar

An Interview With Swedish Actress and Singer Hanna Björn

Written by Emelie Bodén by Sandra Myhrberg

Hanna Björn is a Swedish actress and singer, born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden. She plays the female lead role in the current NETFLIX series “CLARK - Based on Truth and Lies” directed by Jonas Åkerlund, with Bill Skarsgård as Clark Olofsson.

Have you always envisioned a career in acting, or were there particular experiences or moments that solidified your passion for this art form?
Since I was 3, I’ve had a great passion for acting and singing, and I’ve always known that it is what I want to dedicate my life to. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends, so a strategy I often tried was that I wrote and directed plays, hoping the children in my class would like me. It didn’t really work, hehe, but at least I had fun? Acting and writing was also a way of keeping yourself company. When I was 10 I got accepted to Adolf Fredriks Musikklasser, where I finally met some friends who shared the same interests. A year later, I got the dream job to sing in the children’s choir at the Royal Opera in Stockholm. This reeeeallly mesmerized me, with the enchanting world of an opera house. The scent of stagemakeup and powder, standing on a stage, costumes, the lights.. It was everything I ever dreamed of and that experience really solidified my passion.

Since your debut movie Min så kallade pappa, how do you feel your acting technique and approach to your acting have evolved?
Haha.. The short answer is that I’ve really started to trust myself as an actress and I’ve learned how to play the situation instead of playing an emotional state. Acting is like languages, you have to practise and exercise it. It's a never ending education in which one can never become considered “done”, which also makes it so exciting and fun!! It's an artform where everything is about being a human, and you can really take your broken heart and make it into art (Carrie Fischer). Through the years I've studied at various schools and tried to take advantage of every lesson and make the most out of it. But I must say, something really clicked for me in 2019 when I was studying at Stockholm University of the Arts with an acting coach named Matthew Allen. He really made me understand things that I had read about but never fully understood until then and how to practise those things on stage/screen. And as a good teacher should be, he was always reminding us about how we/I was the one doing the job, not him. I’ve also learned how patient you have to be, how persistent and almost.. a little bit crazy not to give up in this business.

Do you have any unique methods or rituals that you employ to prepare for your roles?
These are not unique methods / rituals but.. It all starts with the text, so first I learn the lines, really, really well. From that, with the scene analysis, I start asking and answering a lot of questions. The five w:s I think I do mostly because it really gets your imagination going. I try a lot of things, for the purpose of trying to figure out Why I say these lines, in What context, What is that saying about my character and mostly; What do I want from the person I’m talking to? What do I want to change in the other person? I can do this for hours because I think it’s so fun!! Creating backstory, and doing exercises like for example: if I (the character) was saying this as a shark / cat / cow, how would I be saying it?

Your role in the Netflix series Clark garnered significant attention. Could you share your experience working on this project? How did this role challenge you as an actor, and what did you find most rewarding about bringing this character to life?
Working on Clark was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had..It’s always fun to be able to work with a character for such a long time. To do research, listen to all the music, dive into that period of time..To create an arch for my character,  thinking about how these years were affecting her, why things were important to her, why she stayed with a person like Clark… How to justify her letting him disappear, being a notorious cheater and constantly lying to her. Sometimes I just decided ”She knows  but she’s so tired of being lied to / she’s too much in love and lets him get away with it. I remember at one point I thought, maybe Maria thinks ”Everyone wants to lock him up, put a ring on him and tell him what to do, but that only makes him run away even more, so I’m not gonna do that”.
Also working with a visual genious like Jonas (Åkerlund, director), and Bill (Skarsgård, leading co-star), who is one of the most brave and dedicated actors I’ve met. They’re both really, really good and inspiring, and they were also the ones making me step out of my comfort zone sometimes. Like, I wouldn’t say I’m a dancer, I’ve not portrayed one before, and I definitely don’t have politcally monologues going on during… you know what I mean ;)
Mostly I learned what's working for me and what's not. Also that the lines can change the same day but I can still do it, the character work is done.   I don't always have to be a perfectionist.

You are also playing one of the lead roles in the upcoming movie Järnridån in which you speak russian. How challenging was it to undertake a role that required you to perform in a different language? Could you describe the specific difficulties you faced and the strategies you employed to authentically portray your character in a non-native tongue?
I love languages and it’s always been a goal to act in another language. In this project some of the script involved Tatiana’s letter scene from ”Eugene Onegin'', which would be a little bit challenging to do even in swedish. Not only because it’s so well known, it’s a verse novel which is not the most common thing to do when acting on screen. I'm a massive fan of Tchaikovsky and already knew some of the lines, knew the text since before and knew I related to Tatiana  (one of the best heroïnes in m.o). Then I had help with pronunciation from my beloved friend and assisting director of the film, Alyona. I tried to think of how I would speak the lines if I was expressing them as myself, so the same thing you kind of always do. The challenge with Järnridån was more of the subject, that we were doing a film about a current  world situation, a trauma that was ongoing and still is, directly affecting the people doing the film and how to be respectful about it. So that was a fear I guess, and it became kind of meta when I was building the part.
The fantastic thing about Film and theatre is that you can reflect over situations and  try things that would cost too much to try in reality. I think we were a great team, supporting one another and  I’m so grateful to have been working with my director Alexandra Dahlström, a.d. Alena Izmestieva and co-star Alexej Manvelov.

sweater & boots Henrietta Frihammar
dress Elvita Ismayilova

boots, rings and earrings Stylist's Own

photography, post production & fashion Olivia Arte

hair, makeup & Nails Tereza Luyirika

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