A couple of weeks ago, along with 600 other Londoners in the know, we were fortunate enough to participate in the Jameson Cult Club screening of Headhunters and conversation with its stars at the Saatchi Gallery.
The Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Headhunters marked a shift in the JCFC’s format as the focus was on Future Cult and they could not have marked the occasion with a more appropriate film than the darkly sublime Headhunters.
If you read The Establishing Shot you’ll know we loved Headhunters and it is currently my top 3 film of 2012 so far. Our thoughts of the engaging and darkly brilliant Headhunters can be found over here! My arc with Headhunters went from my interest being piqued by the cryptic and engaging trailer. To being utterly astonished by my first viewing of Headhunters. I knew that festival audiences had received it well but nothing quite prepared me for the fun ride that Headhunters delivers. I liked it so much that I went to see it again, so my wife a fan of crime fiction could enjoy it. She loved it!
The Headhunters trailers also heralded my introduction to Norwegian author Jo Nesbø who seems to be at the leading the charge of the Scandinavian thriller invasion, capturing the imagination of readers around the world (a Jo Nesbø novel is bought every 23 seconds).
I knew nothing of Nesbø prior to seeing the Headhunters trailer and it seemed as if I stumbled onto a well kept secret - as over the coming months I couldn’t escape hearing about Jo Nesbø or his books, culminating in overhearing a discussion in Waterstones last week between a lady “who had heard so much about his books” and the shop assistant’s recommendations on which of his books to start with - apparently they are stand alone stories but you’ll have better insight into the characters if you read them in sequence. Headhunters is Nesbø’s first big screen adaptation and the most successful Norwegian film of all time.
Working Title has already started on the next adaptation of a Jo Nesbø book to be made into a big screen feature this time it will be a Harry Hole (pronounced Hury Hool-e) detective thriller The Snowman - a serial killer tale with Martin Scorsese directing.
To try pigeon hole Headhunters would really do it a disservice as it doesn’t quite fit into one genre neatly, possibly a contributing factors - leading to it earning a Cult status early on. It is wildly entertaining and will shock and humour in equal measure. An intricate crime thriller that has human relationships at its core. For me it did feel like some of the relationship aspects were lost in translation in favour of speeding up the action of the story - in which corporate recruiter (or Headhunter) Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) finds himself deeper and deeper, in over his head, in an increasingly fraught situation. In which he realises his grasp may have exceeded his reach this one final time. This surely must be Aksel Hennie's breakout role with comparisons already being drawn between his performance as Roger Brown and that of cinema's most misunderstood and unlikeliest heroes like; The Driver, Professor Snape and Edward Scissorhands.
But when one of the film’s stars Synnøve Macody Lund drew parallels in similarities between Pulp Fiction and Headhunters - the comparison stuck with me. Like Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Headhunters bends and blends genres and from one scene to the next you could on the edge of your seat, to laughing out loud, to cringing in disgust. Very much like Pulp Fiction or a Guy Ritchie film Headhunters creates an original darkly satiric universe filled with entertaining characters, twists and turns, and flits between edgy, dangerous and hilarious carried by some great performances from across the cast. Which includes; award winning actor Aksel Hennie, (Max Manus: Man of War, Age of Heroes), Nikolasj Coster-WaldauIt (Jaime Lannister in HBO hit series Game Of Thrones, Blackthorn), Julie Olgaard (The Killing), the hilarious Eivind Sander and drop dead gorgeous newcomer Synnøve Macody Lund.
QA with Headhunters stars; Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund and Producer Marianne Gray.
After the screening the people’s champion Chris Hewitt took to the stage to host a QA session with starts; Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund and Marianne Gray. Below are some of the highlights from the QA session, unfortunately the humour and inflection isn't conveyed below but there are loads of interesting bits.
ON GETTING THE NOTORIOUSLY PROTECTIVE JO NEBO TO ALLOW HEADHUNTERS TO BE ADAPTED FOR BIG SCREEN
Marianne Gray: We had worked with Jo Nesbo for the Harry Hole series, that is currently being made in Britain by Working Title, but he was very reluctant while he was continuing to write the books because he didn’t want to ruin the character in his head. Specifically doing it in Norwegian.
So when Headhunters came out as a stand alone, he pretty much owed it to me and he said yes very quickly. So it was an easy process.
Aksel Hennie: Yea, when I asked Jo about what he wanted me to do; he said to do as I please. He was very supportive and generous. He even wrote the last line of the movie that is not in his book.
SYNNØVE MACODY LUND ON AUDIENCES WARM RECEPTION OF THE COMPELLING WORLD JO NESBO & DIRECTOR CREATES FOR HEADHUNTERS
Synnøve Macody Lund: It’s fantastic, it says something about how the movie has created a unique universe. In a similar way to say Pulp Fiction, or whatever but it has a similar mix - that is just fascinating and stands out. Creating its own mystery that’s cool and that is amazing.
ON THE SUPRISE CASTING OF FILM CRITIC SYNNØVE MACODY LUND AS DIANA BROWN
Chatting with the Headhunters team after the screening
After the screening we headed back into the gallery area for another cocktail while we listened to the DJ amongst the art work - which in itself was fairly surreal. Whilst we were there I managed to catch up with the Headhunters team for a chat and more interesting behind the scenes discussion.
I had a lengthy chat with Aksel Hennie in which I discovered that he loves Spicy Asian Fusion food, he is currently listening to amongst others; Sigur Rós, Kings of Leon and I twisted his arm slightly to find out that he is also listening to a lot of Pop music - because of his pop star girlfriend Tone Damli.
He is loving London and honoured that Headhunters has been shown at the Jameson Cult Film Club. And he can't wait to re-watch Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive which he loves.
The following is a transcript of bits of our chat:
Craig Grobler: You just mentioned Nicolas Winding Refn, aside from him, and of course Morten Tyldum, who are your favourite directors?
Aksel Hennie: David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson and mmh Sean Penn.
CG: Sean Penn? Interesting choice.
Aksel Hennie: Because of his first feature The Indian Runner. I love it. And because of Mickey Rourke’s small monologue in The Pledge.
CG: Those films cover some fairly heavy subject material. Do you lean towards that type of dark material?
Aksel Hennie:I love all kinds of movies you know. I loved mmh! The Hangover. All movies deserve an audience as long as they are good. When a movie is good, it usually has its individual merits. On a Sunday a could be hung over watching whatever; Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler movies laughing my ass off. And the next day I could be in it for the broader themes or darkness of it. I watch all kinds of films as long as they have something to them.
CG: So how did you get involved in Headhunters?
Aksel Hennie: The director Morten Tyldum has been a tremendously important person to me throughout my career. He was involved in my first short film (Fast Forward/ Fort Forover - 2000) my first feature film (Buddy - 2003) and now Headhunters. After Buddy, my we had been looking for a project to work together on. And one day he called me - at this point it felt a bit like the scene in Reservoir Dogs where Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is telling the story of his close shave with law to his associates and breaks through the fourth wall. Aksel's natural story telling abilities very evident as I'm immersed in his story like I'm there eavesdropping on his conversation with Morten Tyldum.
Morten Tyldum: Aksel - here it is I have it.CG: You and Morten seem to have a really good working relationship. Can we expect to see you working together again? Are you actively looking for another project together?
Aksel Hennie: Cool, I’m in. What is it?
Morten Tyldum: A Jo Nesbo book.
Aksel Hennie: No, he doesn’t adapt his books.
Morten Tyldum: He does now. He’s doing Headhunters.
I thought Morten Tyldum and Jo Nesbo!
Aksel Hennie: Who’s Producing?
Morten Tyldum: Marian Grey from Yellow Bird and Asle Vatn of Friland.
I was like what the f***! I'm definitely in! Send me the script.
Aksel Hennie: Most definitely, both Morten and I want to work together, we love working together and if we find a new project we’ll go for it. Right now Morten is attached to Hollywood projects and he’s pursuing that. So let’s see.
CG: Has Hollywood been knocking on your door yet? How can they not be after that performance?
Aksel Hennie: Ha, ha, ha Yea, I have managers and agents looking into it and perhaps something will come up.
CG: My understanding is that Headhunters it was sold into 50 countries before it was even out the gate? So has that meant you have been really busy showing the film all over the world?
Aksel Hennie: Yea, I have been doing some but most of the international stuff is starting now, England now and the States I think in late April.
CG: The States, Oh! Did The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo take a similar path with ? I didn't realise the original got a release in the States.
Aksel Hennie: I’m not sure (leans over to Yellow Bird Producer, Marianne Gray) Yea, they did! Marianne Gray: Oh yes, the Swedish version of Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is the most seen, foreign film ever - within the United States.
CG: The reason I ask is, don’t you think with the proliferation of social media and WOM won’t the film be spoilt for a large part of the potential audience? As anyone who sees it will invariably talk about it.
Aksel Hennie: Possibly, but the audience that will see the original version won’t necessarily be the same as the audience that would watch a remake. I don’t know maybe foreign film has a different audience.
CG: A quick trivia question, someone who reads my blog asked about your character name- Roger Brown in Headhunters – He was curious to know if that was something from the book? Or how it came about. Aksel Hennie:Yea, that is from the book. In the book Jo Nesbo goes into Roger’s back story and you find out he has an English father who is a Diplomat.
But he drink drives and dies in accident. We were going to put some of Roger’s back story into the movie and we even shot some dialogue for it but it felt so heavy and out of place, so it didn't fit with the rest of the movie. It made it feel like another whole story
CG: Aksel, I know that you have a huge list of previous projects across TV and film but what can we expect to see you in next?
Aksel Hennie: At the moment I’m waiting for another Norwegian film to come out in October called 90 minutes (90 Minutter) and I’m starting to shoot another movie around August/September. But I’m up for other projects and let’s see what happens. - As well as starring in 90 Minutes Aksel is also producing it.
CG: Without giving too much away what can you tell us about 90 Minutes? Is it similar in vein to the dark satire of Headhunters?
Aksel Hennie: 90 Minutes is something completely different, it’s a small dark art film, shot in 25 days with a bunch very well know Norwegian actors. It is a very character driven drama with multiple storylines. My story is about domestic abuse and I play the worst asshole you can imagine. If you think Roger Brown in Headhunters is a badass to start with, Trond, the guy I play in 90 Minutes is a 100 times worse.
CG: I'll be looking out for it
Visit the Jameson Cult Film Club Box Office for more info and tickets.
Since 1998 Jameson has had a strong connection with the world of film starting with the creation of the Jameson Short Film Award, presented at film festivals all over the world. Fourteen years later Jameson is still involved in some of the most exciting global film events from the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival to the Independent Spirit awards in LA.In the UK, Jameson and Empire, the world's biggest movie magazine, teamed up in 2009 when Jameson became the title sponsor of the Empire Awards. An awards ceremony that is voted by the readers is the perfect embodiment of Jameson's link with film – it's about a love of film. In addition to the Jameson Empire Awards 2012, the new fourth season of Jameson Cult Film Club screenings continues in March. Jameson Cult Film Club is a series of exciting film experiences showing the best in cult film in unusual locations staged to transport you into the film’s universe. For a full events schedule and your free tickets visit www.jamesoncultfilmclub.com or www.facebook.com/jamesoncultfilmclub.