Actor Peter Stormare talks to Hypable about his roles in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and The Last Stand, and his incredible career so far.
Action movie fans will almost definitely recognise Swedish actor Peter Stormare (age 59), seeing as his past work includes such iconic genre movies as Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Armageddon, Minority Report and The Brothers Grimm. TV fans might recognise him as the villain from the first season of Prison Break, and other memorable guest appearances include Hawaii 5-0, Entourage and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Currently, you can see Stormare on the big screen both in the fairytale movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and the modern-day Arnold Schwarzenegger western The Last Stand. We spoke to Stormare about his roles in these movies, Hollywood’s current fascination with all things Scandinavia, and the future of the film industry.
What can you tell us about Hansel & Gretel?
It’s basically a modern take on the Hansel and Gretel story, and they’re witch hunters. It’s actually a Norwegian guy (Tommy Wirkola) who wrote the script and directed it; a very good and talented guy from the borders of Finland. He’d previously done a movie called Dead Snow about Nazis rising from the dead, he’s a crazy guy.
In the movie it’s a lot of witches, it’s a lot of flying on brooms – it’s a lot of Scandinavian things. Here witches aren’t flying on brooms really, it’s more of a Scandinavian take on it. It’s really, really good, the director did a good job.
What do you think about the trend in Hollywood of remaking fairytales and putting them in a more modern context?
Well we’ve come back to the old fairytales, and we’re still dealing with the same material over and over again in one way or another, which is kind of nice because fairytales are the best. And also for this one, I think Scandinavia in general is very popular in Hollywood right now – it’s the flavour of the month, as they say.
How about The Last Stand? That looks like a lot of fun!
It was a lot of fun yeah, it was the formula of an old Western. It’s kind of like John Wayne is back in town – except here you have Arnie [Schwarzenegger] doing it. It’s like an old Wild West but in a modern setting, and it’s very nice to see an older actor being on stage and doing something. Because everybody has to look so darn good and being young these days.
As for me, I play a funny character who gets a showdown with Arnie. But this is all about Arnold, people can go see a good old Arnold movie in a new setting – I think he’s an awesome guy, and it’s just very daring, what he does.
How do you pick your roles? Are you particularly attracted to action movies?
I like to do it all. It becomes boring to do the same thing all the time, it’s nice to do some science fiction, some adventure, some fairytales, some drama… I’ve had luck in my career. It’s been anything from modern, I’ve been in outer space, I’ve been in the good old days, costume dramas… I’ve been lucky.
You’ve worked with some big names already, but are there any particular actors or directors you’re hoping to work with in the future?
Peter Stormare as Jeff (right) with David Morse in Lars von Trier’s iconic Dancer in the Dark (2000)
I would like to work with David Lynch, I’ve been trying a couple of times, and hopefully one day it’ll work out. I think he’s interesting, everything he does has something special – he’s a good, interesting director, he’s done a lot of daring projects. And also [Danish director] Lars von Trier, I’d like to work with him again.
You’ve got some independent films coming up as well, does that movement interest you?
Yeah, I am interested. I’ve done a lot of boom-crash-bang movies, the big studio movies, and now the independent movies are more interesting in a way, because they don’t follow the same formula. Sometimes the studio movies are really painting by numbers, they’re really predictable in many ways.
But at the same time, the independent movies are being taken over by the studios, too. But I think that’s a good thing, it’s a sign of the times. Things are changing, the music industry is dying, and the movie industry is reshaping itself completely. The independent movies used to disappear, but now they’re becoming more mainstream.
Tell me about your upcoming horror movie Clown – that looks terrifying!
What does the future look like for you?
I’d like to direct something [on stage], but I don’t know where and when and how. It’s hard to fit it in. I have no time – I never see movies or TV. There are so many other things in life you could be doing other than to sit by a TV for two hours.
I’m full of curiosity, I want to see the world and meet interesting people, it’s part of my lifestyle to do all these things. I’ve been doing a couple of movies in China, and it’s been very inspiring. They do a lot of movies, and there’s so many people over there.
So in general, it’s been good. I’m still happy to be able to do this. Coming from a small village in Northern Sweden and be able to do this, it’s a dream come true.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and The Last Stand are both in cinemas now!