Zilliacus, 28, starred in a griping movie called “About Sara,” which was released nationwide in Swedish cinemas in November, 2005. The Swedish-speaking Finnish actress dominated the movie, which tells the story of 10 years in the life of an ambitious young woman, her search for love, a family and happiness. Alexander Skarsgård, a rising star who has worked nearly as much in the USA as in Sweden in recent years, also had an interesting role.
The feature film’s director, Uganda-born Othman Karim, discovered lead actress Linda Zilliacus in her role as Marja in “Ondskan” (Evil), 2004’s Swedish candidate for an Oscar, and he wanted to know more about her.
“She has magnetism, a charisma that enchanted me, despite her relatively small part in “Evil.” So when we stumbled upon her name when we were auditioning I knew that we had to try her. She came over from Finland, and as soon as I saw her, I knew: ´That is Sara.”
Indeed, Linda Zilliacus is totally convincing as independent-minded Sara, whose two first close relationships with men fall apart. It takes a catastrophe, the death of a child, to finally defrost her frozen heart. In real-life, the Swedish-Finnish actress Linda seems much more harmonious than the hapless character she portrays: she is happily married to Tobias, director of Helsinki’s Viirus theater, and has two young children.
During the filming, Zilliacus was sometimes frustrated and annoyed with the complex and sometimes self-defeating character of Sara:
“She (Sara) is really not a perfect person. She does such stupid things that sometimes I just wanted to scream: Don’t do that, don’t say that.”
Nevertheless, there are many people who will recognize themselves in the main character, a complicated woman who aims to have it all— successful career, a loving husband and a child-- and feels that in the end she can only rely upon herself to achieve these goals:
“She (Sara) doesn’t trust anybody, and therefore she can’t love anybody because she is so afraid of becoming dependent on someone. I think the Nordic countries are full of Sara’s,” the young actress explains in an interview with Nordic Reach after the press screening. “There are many expectations and demands placed on young women today,” says Linda, “but the biggest expectations are the ones we make for ourselves.”
Zilliacus shares the screen in “About Sara” with Alexander Skarsgård, age 29, a major rising star in the Swedish cinema heaven. Skarsgård plays Sara’s heartthrob boyfriend and first husband Kalle, a mega- star in soccer team Malmö FF. Kalle is a young man who appears to have everything, but success and fame has come so quickly and easily for him that he hasn’t had time to form a clear idea about his own identity.
“He (Kalle) can’t really connect with his problems or with his feelings. So his way to escape from the problems in his relationship with Sara is sort of to shut down, to imagine that those the problems don’t exist.”
Skarsgård says that he can personally relate to the character of Kalle because of his own experience as a precocious child actor.
“I started when I was very young, I was 7 when I did my first feature, and when I was 13 I found myself in a situation that was similar to Kalle’s situation. I was 13 and entering puberty and all that, and you’re lost, a kid like that is lost…its natural because you are becoming an adult from a kid. At that time I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do with my life or who I was. And that isn’t wrong, because that is the way kids are. But it became a problem because I read about myself in newspapers and heard gossip about myself, and people talking. And I couldn’t deal with that situation.
“That led me to quit acting for 8 years. I just wanted to be one of the guys, and find out who I was before doing magazine interviews explaining who I was. I was fortunate because I didn’t have parents who pushed me in any direction. When I said that I wanted to quit for a while, they said, ok, do what you want to do.”
Alexander, who is single, is part of an unusual family. His father, Stellan Skarsgård, is one of Sweden’s greatest male actors. His younger brother, Gustaf, is also an popular Swedish actor. Do any of his other three siblings plan a career on the silver screen?
“I don’t know, there is quite a big gap. I am 29, Gustaf is 25, and then I have another brother, Sam, who is 23, and he is studying to be a doctor. The others three are still so young that is too early to tell.”
Alexander Skarsgård played the roommate of actor Ben Stiller in the Hollywood film, Zoolander (2001), and he has a larger role in an as-yet-unreleased American film called “Kill Your Darlings.”
“It is a dark comedy. I haven’t seen it yet because it is still in editing. It’s a road movie, and I play a transvestite who tried to commit suicide. A cool role, I love it. It’s a road movie about me and another woman who tried to commit suicide, and a guy who picks us up.”
Skarsgård isn’t the only one connected to “About Sara” with strong ties to the USA. Director and scriptwriter Othman Karim, who emigrated from Uganda to Sweden as a child, moved to the USA at age 18 to study cinematography at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California. He ended up working in America for 10 years, including a stint at Steven Spielberg’s company, Amblin Entertainment.
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