Norwegian Actor on Interpreting a Mass Murderer


The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik killed 77 people across Oslo on 22 July, 2011. Norwegian actor Anders Danielsen Lie accepted the task of interpreting him in the film ‘22 July’. Read the Norwegian actor’s thoughts on interpreting the mass murderer.

Anders Danielsen Lie has admitted it took him a few weeks to agree on the part after he had been asked to interpret and play the role of Anders Breivik, who during the terrorist attack of 2011 on Utøya outside Oslo opened fire on hundreds of children and killing 69 people, as a misguided right-wing protest of immigration and left-wing politics.

Norwegian Actor on Interpreting a Mass Murderer
Anders Danielsen Lie interpreting Anders Breivik

Related: Utøya Memorial Pavilion, Norway

About the Actor
Anders Danielsen Lie (born 1979) is an actor, musician and medical doctor. He made his film debut when he was 11 years old in the title role of Herman (1990). He is best known for his leading roles in the multi-award winning ‘Reprise’ (2006) and Oslo, 31 August (2011) by Danish-Norwegian director Joachim Trier.

In 2011 Danielsen Lie released a concept album with music written, produced and performed by himself, ‘This is autism’.

Danielsen Lie has proven to be one of Norway’s best actors currently working, but he’s still relative unknown outside Scandinavia. It was a huge responsibility to accept the role of the mass murderer, and Danielsen Lie says he would never have done it if he wasn’t absolute certain he could create a character that was believable.

Related: A Literary Masterpiece About the 22nd July Massacre in Norway

Huge research job
Danielsen Lie knows there are a lot of emotions involved in making a film like this and as a professional actor he wanted everything to be accurate and as close to the truth as possible. It also involved a huge research job and he reflected on how it could affect him, since it’s pretty human to think that a person who has committed such an awful crime cannot be normal, cannot be a human being.

Norwegian Actor on Interpreting a Mass Murderer
For Anders Danielsen Lie It was a huge responsibility to accept the role of the mass murderer

Researching Breivik, watching interrogation footage, Danielsen Lie was struck by how “frighteningly normal” he was in most situations. There is almost 200 hours of interrogation footage. Danielsen Lie hasn’t watched all of it but a lot, and that has been the most important source of research for building the character.  Breivik is currently in prison in Norway for his heinous crimes. Even though he has certain pathological personality traits, most of the time, he’s completely casual and ordinary.

Related: Norwegian Massacre

Danielsen Lie never spoke to Breivik directly
Danielsen Lie never spoke to Breivik directly, but says he’s spoken to people who have spent much time with him. He once tried to schedule a meeting with him in prison, but Breivik declined without giving a reason. He has also spoken to his lawyer.

“It is actually quite disturbing to watch a person, when you know what he has done, and he is so ordinary and normal. It is very disturbing,” Danielsen Lie said in an interview.

On practicing medicine
Anders Danielsen Lie is still practicing medicine. He says it is important to him to practice regularly. His world is not only about the film industry. He needs to have a foot in reality and do something else. “That way I am connecting with the real world,” he says.

Norwegian Actor on Interpreting a Mass Murderer
The film was written, directed and produced by Paul Greengrass (right)

About the film
‘22 July’ is a 2018 Norwegian-American crime drama film about the 2011 Norway attacks and their aftermath, based on the book One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — and Its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad. The film was written, directed and produced by Paul Greengrass and features a Norwegian cast and crew. The film had its world premiere on September 5, 2018 in the main competition section of the 75th Venice International Film Festival.

Norwegian Actor on Interpreting a Mass Murderer, written by Tor Kjolberg