'Headhunters' big for Norwegian star

Aksel Hennie. (WENN.com)

Aksel Hennie. (WENN.com)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:51 PM ET

Aksel Hennie is an actor, writer and director and a star in his native Norway. You may have seen him in Max Manus (2008), which was released here, and you'll soon see him in Headhunters, a terrific new thriller based on a Jo Nesbo novel.

After that, you're likely to see him a lot.

"I'm sensing a buzz around the movie that me and my colleagues have never experienced before. People are really interested in the film," says Hennie, 36, who visited Toronto to promote Headhunters during the Toronto film festival.

"This is a big movie for me, in so many ways. When you get asked to do a Jo Nesbo film, that's big on its own. But it's also emotional for me doing a film with Morten Tyldum, because he's one of the directors who helped start my career. We've known each other a long time."

Hennie stars in Headhunters as Roger, a man who appears to have everything.

What he actually has is a list of insecurities and a mountain of debt, but at least he can always get more money by stealing art. Roger comes up against the wrong guy in Headhunters, and he's suddenly running for his life. It's a great yarn, full of dark humour and clever action sequences, and it's the first Nesbo novel ever to be made into a film.

(Martin Scorsese recently agreed to direct another Nesbo book, The Snowman; it's a crime thriller about a serial killer.)

Hennie, meanwhile, says he never intended to be an actor. He started out as an artist, and was even arrested in Norway as a teenager for tagging.

"I didn't think I'd be an actor, even though my family is interested in the arts and culture, and I'd been taken to the theatre since I was a kid. My childhood and my family were great. All the bad choices down the road were my own," he laughs. "I just never had that, 'I want to be an actor!' thing."

His father, adds Hennie, a bit sheepishly, would tell a different story.

"He says I wanted it from the day I was born."

In retrospect, says the actor, what he saw as, "A lot of random choices," sorted themselves into a fairly straight career line. Hennie tried four times to get into the Norwegian National Academy of Theatre and was finally accepted, and went on to high profile theatre roles. Hennie was even more successful in his film career, becoming an award-winning actor with his debut in 2003 in Jonny Vang, and an award-winning filmmaker with the 2005 film Uno, which he wrote and directed.

There's probably a move to Los Angeles in Hennie's immediate future, because that's where the work is, but he won't have any language problems. Almost all Norwegians of his generation speak English, he explains. "We learn it in school, and we do not dub our movies. We're used to seeing a lot of American movies."

Chances are he'll get used to being in a lot of American movies, too.

"It all worked out," he understates, "And I feel insanely lucky to be able to do what I'm doing."


Videos

Photos