“The research procedures were very elaborate and quite difficult because there was little written about Princess Märtha”, explains to AFP the Norwegian Alexander Eik, director of this series selected at the Canneséries festival which took place this week.
This blockbuster, which received the highest budget ever devoted to a series in Scandinavia, was bought by a dozen countries, including in the United States by PBS and in France by Chérie25. It will air Tuesday on Norwegian public television NRK.
For Alexander Eik, it all started with a press article that speculated on a relationship between President Roosevelt and Princess Märtha, a Swedish princess who became Crown Princess of Norway by marrying Prince Olav, the latter finding herself in exile for 5 years. in the United States in the midst of World War II.
“I had never heard of it and it intrigued me. I started my research and discovered a story that exceeded my wildest dreams: The Crown Princess was a guest of the most powerful man in the world. world at a time when the United States was the only salvation for the Allies in their fight against the Nazis, “he said.
“The Princess made a strong impression on the President, he fell in love with her and she realized that she had influence over the only person who could help them in this war. She used that influence. and our series is about how she handled that very complex emotional landscape, ”the director continues.
For this research, he carried out a real investigation with the screenwriter Linda May Kallestein, accustomed to the archives: they found letters, newspapers, private and official collections, spoke to the survivors, in particular the grandchildren of Roosevelt.
“They always remembered Märtha very well and told us that she was the last love of her life,” says Alexander Eik.
It is the American actor Kyle MacLachlan (one of David Lynch’s favorite actors seen in particular in “Twin Peaks”) who plays Roosevelt in this series of 8 episodes, filmed in the Czech Republic.
“I did not know this story, it really surprised me. I was also amazed to see the struggle it was for Roosevelt to make the Americans accept the idea of going back to war. After the first war, they were fed up and he had to work a lot to reverse the trend, “said the actor, during a masterclass broadcast during the festival.
“This role presented a lot of difficulties”, in particular for the physical transformation into Roosevelt, who was paralyzed and had slender legs, details the actor. He notably had to wear colored lenses and a prosthesis to change the shape of his mouth, which he had also used in “Twin Peaks”.
In front of him, Swedish actress Sofia Helin, seen in the series “the Bridge”, plays Princess Märtha.
“Sofia is an extraordinary actress, very intuitive, very available emotionally and really in the exchange”, praises Kyle MacLachlan.
With its hectic pace, its war scenes worthy of the big budgets of cinema, its convincing cast and its love story, “Atlantic crossing” should find its audience.
And why not, come back with a season two. “We discussed the possibility of continuing the story and I think it’s possible. But I wouldn’t spend another 9 years on it!”, Smiles the director.
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