In new Netflix original drama Young Wallander, Kurt Wallander (Adam Pålsson) fresh out of police academy witnesses a brutal crime and is pulled into solving it under the wing of superintendent Hemberg (Richard Dillane).
Welsh actor Alan Emrys plays Billionaire bad boy Gustav Munck and we caught up with him to find out more…
What shows have you been enjoying during lockdown? Is there anyone in the business currently that you really admire/learn from?
Lockdown was a long series of binge watching things. The classic must watches like Friends, Family Guy, Cobra Kai etc but most importantly every single Star Wars Film (in release order) & The Mandalorian was sent straight from nerd heaven for us during the apocalypse we’re enduring.
Who do I admire? Tonnes of people! Patrick Stewart, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Tom Hardy, Anthony Hopkins, Charlize Theron Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Smith, Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau, The list goes on & on. l always admired Ewan McGregor, specifically something he said in his documentary The Long Way Round, about the industry, I’ll paraphrase “never aim to be famous, aim to be successful” fame & the Overwhelming disire of it, (in my opinion) butchers an actors art & creativity. Which leads me onto another hero & the man who led me to want to be an actor, David Bowie who said “never play to the gallery, It’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfil other peoples’ expectations. They generally produce their worst work when they do that. If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
I read that you had a role in Johnny English Strikes Again!! What was your role in that and what was that like to work on?
Oh that ol’ chestnut! That was a very quick learning curve of the industry for me not to take things for granted. It was my first job out of Drama School. I was on top of the world. A great first job, some showreel & some travel! Unfortunately I got a phone call from my agent after day one to tell me that they’d decided to write my character out of the film. It was stressed it was nothing to do with my performance & that they loved all that side of things. It was simply “physically it doesn’t work” I was playing the Villain’s body guard & I think we were just very similar builds or something, which they hadn’t noticed before. It taught me that rejection isn’t personal & not everything is in your control. Which has seriously helped me deal with the difficulties of navigated a career as a young actor. Rowan Atkinson is cool though, I should throw that out there, absolute pro.
Now on to Young Wallander, for anyone who doesn’t know anything about ‘Wallander’ can they still enjoy this show?
Hell to the yes you can! It’s very well done, so that even if you’ve never seen Wallander before you’ll get a great introduction & if you have, you’ll discover the events the created the phenom who is Kurt Wallander. For the new Generation this really is not your parents’ Wallander. But for the original lovers of the story, It does pay careful consideration in respecting the heritage the previous adaptations have laid out. Young Wallander has all the stoic brooding energy of it’s predecessors with a new action packed energy.
The series opens with a bang doesn’t it? Can you set the scene for people reading this?
With out giving too much away? Not really haha but it’s certainly a great way for the show to explode onto the screen! Just be ready to say, “wait, all this in 10 minutes?!”
You play Gustav Munck, what can you tell us about him?
I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again, as I have a chance to humanise him. Gustav is balancing a vast amount of vulnerability with an insurmountable amount of responsibility & hereditary expectance. He is trying to marry tradition & the future in a way that will transform the world we live in. He is aware of the wolves nipping at his feet. His name & his title can often mean he tries to remain quite solitary & he is very aware he has enemies.
Did you base him on anyone or take inspiration from anywhere for him?
This time no. Sometimes I do draw inspiration from a person of influence, another actor, a friend, an animal. But when reading the script for Gustav. I saw similarities between us. We both put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make a difference & struggle to digest it when we can’t. We’re driven to make our families proud. Our moral compass is set in stone (You could argue we are stubborn). We’re sensitive & often become impulsive because of it. Our gut feelings drive who we trust & don’t. So for Gustav, I took the elements in myself that matched & turned the volume up on them. I guess the hardest part of playing Gustav was his billionaire status, I come from an incredibly working class back ground. It was actually quite amusing during my first week of filming playing this heir to a billionaire fortune, & then having my card refused for a cup of coffee because my bank account was overdrawn haha.
Without giving too much away, can you tell us about his relationship with Wallander?
He is consistent nuisance intrusion to Gustav, but also a man who in another world he may have grown to admire. He has made Gustav raise his defences. All this combined with Kurt’s presence constantly scratching at a wound Gustav thought had healed makes their interactions prickly at best. But, Gustav, much like Kurt, is on the precipice of discovering the man he is to become. As we’ve come to expect with Netflix, the show looks amazing. What was it like to film?
Gaute Gunnari. That’s all you have to know really. The man is a genius with a camera. Combined with his team, & the collaboration with directors Jens and Ole & the landscapes they had available to them, make a perfect concoction for cinema. I felt especially helped by Gaute, he made sure I knew how to look my best on camera so all I had to think about what I wanted to achieve in the scene.
Other actors have told us that being part of a big ensemble task can be like starting a new school, quite intimidating. How did you find it?
I definitely found it a little intimidating, I was very much new kid on the block in the cast. We had seasoned vets & names, people I’d seen on my TV before. I definitely felt a little out of my depth. It took me a little while to realise Sophie Holland hadn’t made a mistake in casting me & that I belonged in the phenomenal cast she’d found.
The show has been very well received, do you think we’ll see more? (If so, we want a set visit!)
I don’t see why not. If I was decisionmaker at Netflix I’d personally give it another five seasons. But I’m just a humble actor. That being said if the powers that be or whichever spirits are guiding these decisions decide to bring me back for a second season, come say hi, I’ll bring the rum.
Lastly, can you tell us what kind of role you’d like to play next and/or any plans for your next project?
Can I tell you what I’d like to play next….How long have you got? Do you know any of the stories of the grey Jedi, or the outer rim in Star Wars? I’d absolutely love to work with Jon Favreau! Or play a really sick villain in a Marvel/DC movie. On the flipside, I feel I’m not quite old enough to play Macbeth but I would love to one day. As well as Jon Proctor in the crucible, I do miss great drama & the stage! I would love to play Lucifer/Satan in a screen adaption of The last days of Judas Iscariot. i could ramble on for hours about this, But If you can somehow get this read by Kevin Smith, & he remembers me as the guy who wanted to get on his radar at Genesis Cinema London with his screening of Jay & Silent Bob. If he would be down for making a film adaptation of The Second Coming by John Niven & casting me as Jesus, I would be so down! Basically what I’m trying to say is, I’m a massive nerd, who’s wants to tell as many stories as he can. There is something else in the pipeline already but I gotta keep that to myself for now.
Young Wallander is available to stream via Netflix, now.