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Sofie Gråbøl and Søren Sveistrup discuss how they turned The Killing into a fashion statement that made them fashion icons.
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Sofie Gråbøl and Søren Sveistrup discuss how they turned The Killing into a fashion statement that made them fashion icons.

The creator and main writer of the series is Søren Sveistrup.

I had a desire to write the ultimate crime story in Danish. I presented my idea to DR, the Danish broadcasting corporation. However, they declined, as they already had writers working on crime stories. Instead, they requested a romantic comedy. As a result, I created a series called “Nikolaj and Julie,” starring Sofie Gråbøl, which became a hit and even won an International Emmy. Following this success, DR was interested in hearing more about my original crime concept. They were initially hesitant when I mentioned that it would require 20 episodes to solve the case. However, due to the accolades from the Emmy, I was given complete creative control.

For me, The Killing is reminiscent of a Greek tragedy. There is an intangible force that entraps a city, in this situation Copenhagen, and you are unable to break free or catch your breath until it has passed. I extensively studied real-life homicide cases in Denmark, conversing with government officials, law enforcement, family members, and clergymen. Some scenes were inspired by my own personal experiences. Having lost my mother at a young age, the storyline about a family losing something incredibly valuable was deeply reflective of my own life. It was a form of catharsis, I suppose.

Sarah Lund was developed in collaboration with Sofie, a charming and feminine individual in real life. Our initial vision for Sarah was more masculine. I was personally influenced by spaghetti westerns featuring Clint Eastwood. We aimed to create a character similar to the stoic western hero, but with Sofie’s comedic talent and endearing awkwardness. Sarah is socially awkward and completely absorbed in her job, with no hints about her past. She remains a mystery to those around her.

Only a select few on set, including myself, were aware of the identity of the killer until the final moments of filming. I purposely kept this information from my friends and even my spouse. I wanted to prevent the actor from portraying a guilty character and also maintain creative flexibility with the plot. Due to my perfectionism, I fell behind schedule with writing and had to work tirelessly to catch up. It was like laying down the tracks for a train as it was already approaching, but it allowed me to stay immersed in the rising tension.

‘She’s not lovable at all’ … Gråbøl in the Bafta-winning series.

The Killing was very successful in Denmark, but no Danish TV series had ever done well abroad back then – the language barrier was just too big. However, first the Swedes liked it, then the Germans, then the French. The biggest surprise was the Brits. For some reason, the timing was just right. The show helped open doors for not only Danish language TV, but Swedish and lots of other languages. Now it’s common to turn on Netflix and see something like Squid Game, in Korean.

I put an end to The Killing a while back, but who knows what the future may bring. My feelings for Sarah Lund still remain strong.

Sofie Gråbøl portrayed the character of Sarah Lund.

The director, Birger Larsen, had a specific vision for Sarah Lund’s appearance – braids and a poncho. As a practical person, I expressed my concerns about the practicality of wearing a poncho while using a gun. However, this sparked a creative discussion and we ultimately decided on a knitted garment as a contrast to her tough job. I have never been a fan of the costume aspect of acting, but I fully embraced the jumper and found it to be the perfect choice. It’s still surprising to me that I have become somewhat of a fashion icon.

Uncompromising … Sofie Gråbøl on the set of The Killing in 2007.

When I wore that sweater, it felt like I was suiting up. Despite its softness, it also represented a great level of self-assurance – not caring about societal norms. It surprises me that Sarah Lund is beloved as a character. She’s a loner, a neglectful mother. She’s not particularly likeable. However, in some ways, that is her strength. She has a strong core and an unwavering commitment to honesty.

During the filming process, I was going through a difficult time in my personal life. I had two young children and was going through a divorce. However, being part of this small community with Søren and other familiar faces, and portraying a character who was very reserved and didn’t require me to reveal all my emotions, felt like a comforting escape. Søren’s unique approach of writing while shooting was intense, but it created a dynamic and enjoyable atmosphere. When we received the final script, which included the big reveal, the mood in the room was like that of Christmas Eve.

In 2011, when the first season of the show aired in the UK, I was surprised to receive numerous calls from the British media on my phone. It wasn’t until the Baftas that I realized the immense popularity of the show. At the event, held in a large London venue, I found myself star-gazing. However, when a clip from The Killing was shown alongside other acclaimed international shows like Boardwalk Empire, I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed. Our show clearly didn’t have the same budget or production values. We felt like the underdogs. But to our surprise, it won. As we made our way to the stage, many people leaned out from their tables to express their love for our show.

Unfortunately, I did not retain possession of the jumpers as they were sold at an auction. However, I am confident that the individuals who made them would be able to create a new one for me in the future if necessary.

Source: theguardian.com