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© 1985 Carlton UK Television

The Sverre Anker Ousdal Veranda

Why hasn't anyone outside of Scandinavia heard of him?

Click here to read our interview with Sverre Anker Ousdal.
Click here to read the Last Place on Earth Publicity packet biography of Sverre Anker Ousdal.

Sverre Anker Ousdal is Norway's premiere actor. He has been in scads of films and several TV series (at least, according to IMDB). He is also a popular member of Norway's Nationaltheater (as is his son, Mads. See picture, below), and has won countless Best Actor awards in Norway. And yet he is almost unknown in the United States. This, we feel, is an egregious oversight on the part of the American film industry, and something must be done.

© 2000 World Online Norway

Granted, this page may not do as much as we would hope to educate the American public in the matters of this wonderful actor. We don't actually know all that much about him. After countless searches on Yahoo! Norway, we've come upon many articles, but our Norwegian is still sadly lacking. So, we will strive to give you what we've got without invading his privacy (e.g. we can tell you that he is right handed, he can carry a tune and he plays the guitar, but we wouldn't tell you where he buys his socks, even if we knew).

At any rate, we are at a loss to explain how Hollywood could have missed him, but thrilled that at least Masterpiece Theatre picked him up. Ousdal's portrayal of Amundsen in The Last Place on Earth is remarkable, and not just because he is acting in a foreign language, which surely complicates things, but also because he brings to life an extremely complicated character. Amundsen was not the most likeable guy in the world, but Ousdal makes the man sympathetic, his motives understandible and his actions logical. His performance is even more profound when one factors in that Sverre is no fan of Amundsen, calling him "difficult" and "not a nice man." Sverre, however, is a very nice man. He is talented, he is intense. He is very, very tall. He is also very funny. His comic timing is excellent, but there are no movies that make it to the States that would demonstrate this. It's a pity.

© 1985 Carlton UK Television

After much discussion, we could come to just one conclusion: There is only room for one Scandinavian Actor in Hollywood at a time, and they must always play bad guys because a Scandinavian accent always sounds non-specifically ominous.

Hollywood's Scandinavian "IT boy" used to be Max von Sydow, and while we certainly aren't complaining about this choice, it is a bit annoying that Hollywood can only see him as German bad guys. They then turned to Alexander Godunov (In Hollywood, a Russian is a Swede is a German). Today, America's Swede du jour is Stellan Skarsgaard. And while we have nothing against Stellan, we can't help but be a little bitter that Sverre, who has acted with both Max and Stellan (if we may be so familiar), has been so starkly overlooked.

And we will not accept the argument that perhaps his accent is too strong. He is perfectly understandable, and his accent is no less intelligible than Arnold Schwarzenegger's, and we don't see The Terminator being dubbed (despite the fact that it was never clear to us why a cyborg would have an Austrian accent).

In an attempt to bring Herr Ousdal to the masses of America, please allow us to present these few, mostly foreign films. They should be available at your local well-stocked video store. And please, take our comments with a grain of salt. And a pretzel.

A Red title indicates a recommended film.
**Also stars other actors from Last Place on Earth

Hamsun**(Sweden & Norway, 1996). Sverre plays Quisling, the Prime Minister of the Norwegian Puppet government during the Nazi occupation in World War II. His portrayal is uncanny. This is an excellent film, and also stars Max von Sydow as Knut Hamsun. In Norwegian and Swedish, with English subtitles.

Kristin Lavransdatter**(Norway, 1995) Sverre plays Lavrans, the most understanding father in the world. Very good movie, directed by Liv Ullman. In Norwegian, with English subtitles.
© 1995 Norsk Film, NRK

Insomnia(Norway, 1997) Probably his most well-known film. His character isn't as attractive as Amundsen or Lavrans, and his screen time is minimal, but it's a pretty good movie nonetheless. In Norwegian, with English subtitles.

© 1982 Svenske Filmindustri
Flight of the Eagle**(Sweden, 1982) Sverre has played several Polar explorers, and this time he's Knut Fraenkel, a Swedish engineer and athlete on a doomed balloon flight to the North Pole. The movie is great, and the subject fascinating (to polargeeks anyway), but we could only find it dubbed, which was very disappointing.

The Last Dance (Sweden, 1993). We have it on good authority that Sverre speaks Norwegian in this Swedish film about ballroom dancing (and no, he doesn't dance). Stars director Colin Nutley's wife, Helena Bergstrom, who coincidentally also starred in Still Crazy with Bill Nighy (another LPOE alumnus). It's a small world. A very good movie, and pretty funny too. Known as Sista Dansen in Europe. In Swedish, with English subtitles.

NorthStar(US, 1995). We fail to see why the producers would bother to hire an English-speaking Scandinavian actor to play an English-Speaking Scandinavian part in an English language film, and then dub all his lines. We did not stick around to see how this story of turn-of-the-century Alaskan gold mining panned out (HA). Known as "Tashunga" in Europe.

Orion's Belt**(Norway, 1985) This movie received critical acclaim when it came out, but they did tend to dress the main characters in troublesome sweaters and jumpsuits. This was shot during the cold war, so the Russians are the bad guys. Interestingly, this film was shot around the same time as The Last Place on Earth. What is most fascinating about this movie is that it was filmed twice: once with an English director and spoken in English, the second time in Norwegian, with a Norwegian director.
© 1985 Filmeffeckt AS

The Island at the Top of the World (US, 1974). A Disney film starring David Hartman, of all people. Sverre is one of a lost tribe of Vikings living at the North Pole who is found by intrepid balloonists out to reach the pole. Good luck trying to spot him in his Where's Waldo scenes. For being a Disney movie, there are a surprising number of allusions to real Polar adventures and scientific fact. Odd. In English, though the lost tribe speaks Norwegian (or "Hollywood pidgin Norwegian," we can't tell).

The Land of Faraway (US/Norway, 1987) Stars Timothy Bottoms (who at least has redeemed himself in That's My Bush!). One can only hope Sverre chose this project "for the kids." He plays the "maker of swords" in this sci-fi/fantasy which would be campy if it didn't take itself so seriously. This is a criminal waste of his talent, and they've dubbed his voice yet again. Rent this only if you'd like to see a young Christian Bale rise above very poor dialog. In English. Called "Mio min Mio" in Norway.

© 1989 Omega Film & Television AB
Istanbul(Sweden, 1989). Well, at least they didn't dub Sverre this time. This is another Timothy Bottoms movie, a thriller set in Istanbul (not Constantinople), and also stars Twiggy. His part consists of 2 scenes, and he's drunk and angry in both of them. But at least they didn't dub him. The filmakers seem to hint at intrigue in this movie, but they never go all the way, which makes for an ineffectual story. Leonard Maltin says this movie is "less interesting than watching camel spit dry," but that seems a little harsh even to us. Let's just say we kind of get what the filmmaker meant, he just didn't quite make it. But at least he didn't dub anyone. In English.

Copyright © 2000, 2001 Emily Slatten; about framheim; about the pictures