“Sweden’s answer to Lauren Bacall”

She is one of the most successful Swedish film actresses of her generation, and has appeared in films over seven decades. Now Swedish journalist Jan Lumholdt has brought out a unique book of interviews with Harriet Andersson.

The book was praised by critics when it was released at the recent Göteborg Book Fair. According to Lumholdt, in the early 1950’s “Harriet Andersson was Sweden’s answer to Lauren Bacall, Gloria Grahame or Lana Turner … known as one of the most exciting and sensual women in film, hard-boiled on the outside”.

Andersson attended a special screening at the Swedish Film Institute to mark the book launch. At the ceremony honouring Andersson she showed none of the toughness displayed in her debut film, Ingmar Bergman’s Summer with Monica, but a lot of humour and style.

The institute chose an English-language film to mark the occasion: The Deadly Affair directed by Sidney Lumet from 1966, based on a novel by John Le Carré. This was one of 25 films in which Andersson appeared during the sixties.

Other memorable parts are as a cancer victim with two sisters who can’t bring themselves to console her in Bergman’s Cries and Whispers, and as the strict governess in Fanny and Alexander.

The acting career of Harriet Andersson reveals extraordinary versatility with a brilliant acting repertoire of over 100 roles and 50 performances during seven decades.

One of her latest roles is as a non-descript senior in Lars Von Trier’s Dogville opposite Lauren Bacall –her 1950’s counterpart. On the set Bacall asked her about Ingmar Bergman: “Tell me about Mr. B (Ingmar Bergman). Who seduced whom? “ You first, replied Harriet Andersson.

Moira Sullivan

Moira Sullivan is a freelance journalist and member of the Swedish Film Critics’ Association