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Luke Perry: from 90s teen hearthrob to Swedish film star

Former Beverly Hills 90210 star Luke Perry bares all in the new Swedish romantic comedy “Äntligen Midsommar” (‘Finally Midsummer’). The Local recently caught up with the American actor to hear what he thought about getting naked with Swedish women.

Luke Perry: from 90s teen hearthrob to Swedish film star
20th Century Fox

The movie, shot in the idyllic seaside Swedish village of Trosa, south of Stockholm, shows what can happen when an out of town guest turns up to celebrate one of Sweden’s most traditional holidays with four other couples.

Perry plays Sam, an American college friend of the party’s host, who arrives in Sweden bearing a number of presumptions about the ways of Swedish women, and is eager to find out which of the stereotypes ring true.

Sam’s persistent hunt for confirmation of his views on Swedish women evolves as the movie proceeds, leaving no woman safe from his irresistible charm.

The Local recently caught up with Perry by telephone as he was hard at work remodeling his kitchen in Los Angeles to learn more about how the American actor came to star in a Swedish movie.

The Local: How come you were shooting a movie in Sweden?

Perry: Well I can’t say much apart from that it all seems pretty logical to me. I mean, our director lives in Sweden – so why not? We really hit it off when I was there.

The Local: Was it your first time in Sweden and did you have any connections when you got here?

Perry: Yeah, it was the first time but most definitely not the last time – I can tell you that. I mean, I arrived here not knowing anyone and now I’m been back and I’m sure I made some pretty good friends there – except, well except for [Swedish co-star] Daniel Gustavsson. (laughter)

The Local: How was your stay? What sort of stories did you have for your buddies when you got home?

Perry: My stay was simply fantastic. The story I told people when I returned was about how beautiful the little town where we shot the movie was and about the amazing hotel I stayed at. I totally loved it and everything about it – especially the interior and the small little details like the wooden floor and the bathtub. I had a beautiful view from my hotel room – I can’t even describe it.

The Local: How was it to make a movie outside the States and how did people back home react to it?

Perry: There’s no big difference when it comes to shooting a movie in Sweden or in the States. It more or less is all the same the end of the day – 20th Century Fox Production.

The Local: Are there any funny moments in the movie in which you thought to yourself “wow – I never saw that coming”?

Perry: Oh yeah, definitely. There is this one scene when we were all naked in the sauna. I was like, “hey, I’m sitting here naked with a bunch of people I’ve never met before.” That was kind of a “wow” moment – and awkward in a funny sort of way.

The Local: Have you learned anything about the meaning of Sweden’s traditional Midsummer holiday?

Perry: What I’ve learned is that the desperate need for fertility and the uncontrollable hormone flow of masculinity are pretty dangerous – especially at a holiday event like that. I kind of thought people behaved like frogs; but hey, who am I to judge? It’s not my job to understand – my job is to do whatever my director tells me to do. (laughter)

The Local: What is your movie character Sam like?

Perry: What can I say? Sam encapsulates the common American male with the classic prejudices about Swedish women: tall, blond, blue eyes—and some other nasty assumptions. And during his stay – to his surprise – he comes to the conclusion that most of the stereotypes are actually true!

The Local: What was it like to work with the Swedish group of actors?

Perry: It was pretty cool. They all were very welcoming and open. I never felt like I was left outside. Well except for Daniel Gustavsson. (laughter) He treated me horribly and it was pretty heartbreaking because I’m such a big fan of his work. Yeah, I don’t know why he was so mean maybe it was jealousy? Just make sure you get this published!

Note: The Local subsequently learned from a reliable source that there really is no feud between Perry and Gustavsson. In fact, the two have become “internet pen pals” and continue corresponding to this very day.

The Local: Did the movie meet your expectations?

Perry: It looked better than I thought. In terms of the physical imagery, it actually exceeded my expectations. I’m pretty sure people will like it.

The Local: Do you think we will get to see you more often in Swedish cinemas?

Perry: I really hope so and I talked to Ian [McCrudden], our director, about a few possible roles that I really liked. So, I will probably be back. I’d also just like to mention that I really like Peter Stormare – he’s one of my favourite actors.

The Local: Apart from this movie is there anything else you are working on or is it all top secret?

Perry: Well, my mission for now is to finish painting the kitchen door, which I find pretty relaxing especially with a beer in hand. And before we wrap up, I really want to say that I loved working with Schif [Musarra], our producer, and I really liked his short-film “Bella”. Thumbs up Schif!

Äntligen Midsommar opens in Swedish cinemas on Friday, October 2nd.

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FILM

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic

A front-line Swedish nurse is getting some Covid downtime with a week of private screenings of the Gothenburg film festival, in a former lighthouse off the country's west coast.

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic
Competition winner Lisa Enroth.

More than 12,000 candidates from 45 countries applied to watch the festival's films in almost near isolation on an island 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Stockholm.

The prize is a week viewing as many of the festival's 70 premieres as they like in a hotel in the former Pater Noster Lighthouse. But they will be in isolation and will have no access to their own computer or laptop.

READ ALSO: Decision on stricter restrictions for foreign travellers to be made quickly

The bright-red lighthouse, built on a tiny island off Sweden's west coast in 1868, is surrounded by a scattering of squat, red buildings originally built to house the lighthouse keeper's family. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter, depending on the weather.

After a series of interviews and tests, festival organisers chose emergency nurse and film buff Lisa Enroth for the prize, in keeping with the 2021 festival's theme, Social Distances.

Before boarding a small speedboat out to the island on the clear, chill winter's morning, Enroth said she had applied not only out of her love for the cinema, but also to seek respite from her hectic work as an emergency nurse during the pandemic.

“It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year,” she said.

Months working amid Covid crisis

Sweden, which has taken a light-touch approach to the pandemic compared to its neighbours, has been facing a stronger than expected second wave of the virus. So far, more than 11,500 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

Enroth works in the emergency ward of a hospital in Skovde in central Sweden. Since the start of the pandemic, her hospital's work caring for virus patients on top of their regular workload has been intense.

Lisa Enroth on her way to the remote festival location. Photo: AFP

“We had a lot of Covid cases during this year and every patient that has been admitted to the hospital has been passing through the emergency ward,” she told journalists.

The organisers said they were surprised by the numbers of applicants for the prize but were confident they had chosen the right candidate — not only for her love of cinema.

“She has also dedicated this past year in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic,” the festival's creative director Jonas Holmberg said to AFP.

“That's also one of the reasons we chose her”. 

Isolated screenings

Boarding the boat dressed in a thick survival suit, Enroth sped over the calm, icy waters, jumping off in the island's tiny harbour and disappearing into her lodgings.

A screen has been set up in the lantern room at the top of the windswept island's lighthouse, offering a 360-degree view of the sea and coastline around.

Another wide screen has been set up in one of the island's buildings.

Enroth will also have a tablet and headphones if she wants to watch films elsewhere on the island, which measures just 250 metres by 150 metres.

With only one other person staying permanently on the island — a safety precaution — Enroth's only contact with the outside world will be through her video diary about the films she has viewed.

The festival's films will be shown online and two venues in Gothenburg itself will allow screenings for just one person at a time.

Holmberg, the festival's creative director, said he hoped events like these would maintain interest in the industry at a time when many screens are closed because of pandemic restrictions.

“We are longing so much to come back to the cinemas and in the meantime we have to be creative and do the things that we can to create discussion,” he told journalists.

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