Sverre Anker Ousdal
plays Roald Amundsen
The key role of Roald Amundsen in 'The Last Place on Earth' came to Sverre Anker Ousdal courtesy of Max von Sydow who recommended the tall, blond Norwegian actor after they'd worked together on a Swedish film called 'The Flight of the Eagle'.
For Sverre, one of the leading performers in Norway, it was an exciting opportunity to play a major part in an international production.
Sverre recognises the extent of Amundsen's supremecy over Scott in Norwegian eyes, but he is not entirely convinced of his heroism, especially in light of his treatment of his mentor, Fridtjof Nansen. "Nansen gave his ship, Fram, to Amundsen on the understanding that he was going north to explore the Arctic Basin. When he turned toward Antarctica, Nansen felt doubly betrayed, because he still hoped to take the South Pole himself. After Amundsen's success, there was some celebration in Norway, but it was always Nansen who was lionised.
"In later years, Amundsen quarrelled with his family and lived alone which made him bitter. He had a lot of debts from the expedition which he expected a grateful government to pay off, but Norway was newly independent of Sweden and looking towards an alliance with the British Empire, so enthusiasm was muted."
Sverre describes himself as an indifferent skier even though he has been going to the mountains every Easter for as long as he can remember. Driving the huskies in the series was a new experience. He had found it comparitively simple when he practised in Norway because the dog teams there were expertly trained, but the reality of Baffin Island was another matter.
"The Canadian dogs were normally used for Polar Bear hunting and they certainly didn't understand the filming instruction 'cut'! They were very unpredictable and gave us a lot of trouble".
Sverre Anker Ousdal was born at Flekke Fjord [sic] on the south coast of Norway in 1944. The small town had no cinema and no theatre so his father was understandably surprised when his son left the local school and announced he was going to be an actor. There was only one National Theatre school, in Oslo, and the seventeen-year-old boy was thrilled to be accepted.
His first job, after graduation in 1965, was in Bergen and two years later he was established in Oslo's New Theatre which specialised in satire. In 1971, he was invited to join the prestigious National Theatre where he has worked ever since. Favourites are Shakespeare and Ibsen, but he has also played leadin roles in modern plays like 'The Real Thing' and 'Whose Life is it Anyway?'. Musicals are another matter - he only sings if he has to, although he's prepared to revive a precocious talent for the guitar whenever it's required, on stage or off.
Sverre lives in Oslo with his wife, Bodil, and their three children. He's prepared to see them follow in his footsteps - provided they start, as he did, with modest expectations. Like Amundsen, he's a true northerner. "If I think of a long vacation, I'm not interested in the sun and sand between the toes. I'd much rather sail my boat up the Norwegian coast or over to Shetland and Orkney."
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