STACK chats with Danish actor Claes Bang about his new mystery-thriller, The Bay of Silence.
When Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) firmly planted the Danish flag on Hollywood soil, Claes Bang knew it was only a matter of time before he joined them.
That moment came in 2017 when Bang sprang from obscurity thanks to his lead role as an art museum curator in the Cannes Palme d’Or winner The Square, for which he also netted the European Film Award for Best Actor.
Since then, the devilishly handsome Dane was snapped up to portray Dracula in the recent BBC mini-series, play the bad guy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, star opposite Mick Jagger in The Burnt Orange Heresy and, today, as a man who suspects his own wife may have murdered their son in the dark thriller The Bay of Silence.
At 53, Bang has been acting for three decades, thus his long-awaited success tastes even sweeter. “I didn’t feel I was having a totally crap career and I’ve done some really cool stuff, although there were times where there was too little to do,” says the multilingual actor in an immaculate British accent.
The Square’s triumph at Cannes was a massive game changer. “When a film wins a Palme d’Or the whole industry sees it, then all of a sudden they’ve got this guy in front of them that they probably haven’t seen before and I’ve got a good playing age and good English. I’ve got tons of experience because I’ve been working for almost 30 years and I can carry a film for two-and-a-half hours, so I think people just thought, ‘Oh, he’s cast-able. We can find stuff he will fit into’, so that opened many doors for me internationally,” he tells STACK.
Behind one of those doors was the all-female team behind The Bay of Silence – director Paula van Der Oest, screenwriter Caroline Goodall and author Lisa St Aubin de Terán – casting Bang as a grieving father struggling to understand that his wife (Olga Kurylenko) may not be the woman he thought she was.
If the film has an almost Hitchcock feel, then the shoot – on location in the coastal borders between Northern England and Scotland – was equally creepy.
“The house was very eerie with all these big birds flying around and nesting on the property. They were just everywhere, which brought an even more horrible, terrible quality to it,” recalls Bang.
When we tell him that the movie’s twin girls also have a horror vibe to them, he laughs. “I can’t tell you how wonderful those girls were; just the sweetest ever. I think there is always something quite eerie with twins, at least there can be. So when they appear in the movie there’s almost a twisted kind of quality to it. I miss them. I would have adopted them right away if I had the opportunity,” says the Copenhagen-based actor who is stepdad to two adult daughters in his own life.
While enjoying his new recognition, admittedly nobody would recognise Bang right now, having grown a big bushy beard for his role in the Viking revenge saga The Northman, speaking with STACK from the set in Northern Ireland.
Co-starring with Alexander Skarsgård and Nicole Kidman, he can’t wait to meet his leading lady who is yet to arrive on set. “I’m very much a fan of hers and have some quite cool scenes with her. It’s a four-month shoot, and Nicole is here for six weeks. She’s an immensely great actress.”