Jakob Cedergren interview: The Guilty

The swedish-born danish actor talks his role in Gustav Möller’s Sundance acclaimed film 

After winning the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival, The Guilty became an international case: Gustav Möller’s debut film is a one-man thriller that locks the viewer in two rooms, building the suspense on a solid screenplay and making a masterful use of the sound. The young director could count on Jakob Cedergren, a talented swedish-born danish actor who starred in the french action film The Squad and the swedish crime series The Sandhamn Murders, among others.

In The Guilty, Cedergren plays police officer Asger Holm: temporarily assigned to emergency dispatch, the man answers a phone call from a terrified kidnapped woman who suddenly ends the conversation. Confined to the police station, Asger tries to find her with the only help of his intuition and his phone. The man is forced to imagine a severe situation that minute after minute becomes clearer.

Following a successful international debut The Guilty arrives in italian theaters on March 7. Jakob Cedergren met the press yesterday, in Rome, to answer some questions.

The Guilty – Jakob Cedergren. Credits/ Magnolia Pictures

One man, one location: how long did it take to film The Guilty?

«Filming took 13 days, but there was a 6 months preparation. The script was not completely finished when I got it, but the whole story was outlined. I was invited early on so we could finish creating my character.»

In the film you are in front of the camera for 85 minutes, talking to most of the actors via phone. Is it difficult to work in these conditions?

«I’m sure it can be very difficult, but on this one actually it was not: Gustav created an atmosphere where it was all natural. I mean, this is the job! To me it was like co-acting, like if I had somebody in front of me. Actually there were three cameras surrounding me and they were quite static, they were part of the whole scenario and I never noticed them at all. As an actor, I had the best conditions I could ask for: it was the first feature film, so the energy was amazing and I had a great team.»

Let’s talk about your character, Asger: his ultimate goal is to help people, but he finds himself controlling the events in a very questionable way.

«The “good will” was one of the themes I discussed with the director: we talked about Asger’s state of mind and the loneliness that comes with that condition. I think he tries to make things right, but he ends up doing wrong. I found very interesting his journey from being quite sure about what it should be to get into the doubt and finally moving into another direction he couldn’t see before.»

Did you get any inspiration from some famous one-man performances? I’m thinking about Tom Hardy in Locke.

«I saw Locke when it came out and I know other films of this type, like Buried with Ryan Reynolds, but I didn’t think about any other performances, actually. I mostly go to people in real life: the director got the idea for The Guilty from a YouTube video, he saw a clip with 911 call situations. Before Gustav and the screenwriter even started to write the story, they went to danish 911 call center to do some research and I went on my own little route after that.»

There’s been a rumor circulating: it seems like Bold Films and Jake Gyllenhaal have acquired the rights to make an american version of The Guilty. What do you think about that?

«I wish them the best! I take it as a cadeau to the film and hopefully they can make their own version, otherwise I don’t think it could work: there’s a big difference between Europe and America especially with a topic like this. So yes, they have to make their own thing.»


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