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'Borgen's' Pilou Asbæk Would Have 'Crashed Kasper Into Hell' If He Had Done Season 3

Kasper Juul is, without a doubt, "Borgen"s most complicated character. He's first despised by audiences after stealing receipts from Ole Dahl's (Claus Riis Østergaard) apartment minutes after his death, pitied after re-living the childhood memories of being molested by his father, admired for coming clean about his past to Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), and adored when interacting lovingly with his son. We chatted with the actor behind the spin doctor-turned-political analyst, Pilou Asbæk, via Skype (as he looked for his missing remote control) about Kasper's demons, his platonic relationship with Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen), and his diminished role in season three. His smaller presence on the show is also due to the fact that Juul shot a film and performed in a play while filming season three.

On why filming the scene in season two in which he reveals his darkest secret to Katrine (episode 16: "Them and Us"), thereby accepting his traumatic past, caused him to take a step back from the series:

It's somehow the closure for Kasper Juul and that's the reason why I'm not so much in season three is because I felt that the story line was finished. I felt that he's finished as a character because that's the story that we tell of a guy who cannot accept and of course, shouldn't accept, where he comes from because of the molesting story. The whole cliche -- saying that you can't love somebody unless you love yourself. And I don't think Kasper Juul is able to love himself. So the closest thing he'll ever come to love is probably going to be Katrine. But sometimes love isn't enough, especially if you got demons. ... The thing is with demons, it's not up to you to lose your demons, it's up to the demons themselves sometimes. I don't think Kasper Juul is ever going to be happy.

On Kasper's unlucky stars:

He's haunted, he's a haunted soul. You know, when you meet somebody [and you think], "They're so f--king lucky." We have a saying in Denmark that they're born under a lucky star. I don't think that he's born under a lucky star. I think he's born in the deepest, darkest, hellish place.

On collaborating with the writers on his character's story lines:

The coolest thing was I was allowed to, with the writers, develop my own character. If I had done the third season, I'll tell you one thing, I would have crashed Kasper Juul into hell because that's where the great characters are. I hate heroes. ... We were allowed a lot of creative freedom because after like half a year of acting with a character, who knows the character best, you or some new writers?

On keeping Kasper and Birgitte's relationship strictly professional:

Sidse and I, we discussed it with the writers and [a romantic moment] would ruin the storyline between those two characters. One of the most beautiful things with that series was that I actually only once in 20 hours of drama touched her shoulder, that's when her daughter was sick. ... That's the first thing that Sidse and I agreed on in episode one, they're just like a brother-and-sister relationship

On the hardest scenes to shoot (it's not what you'd expect):

Often the smallest scenes -- the ones that have no point, the scenes that are just there -- they're often the hardest to shoot. Because you don't know what the f--k to do and you have to imagine things. You have to make something up. And when an actor has to be creative and be smart and make things up, it's often rubbish.

On Kasper's handful of "positive" traits:

I wanted to create a character who's very good at his job. And that's actually something I found out, that it's always good to do that. Always let your characters be good at something. Kasper's talent is by far, he's the best liar, the best manipulative guy, and the best speech writer.

On the unexpected success of "Borgen" outside Denmark:

This is a story about a female Danish prime minister, a spin doctor and a journalist. It had no international potential at all. I even asked the director and the producer when we started out, "Do you think this is going to go abroad?" and they said, "Hell no." Now it's sold to more than 70 countries.

On the show being adapted for American audiences:

I think it would do great in America. Then it's not about the first lady. There would be a girl. You would start out with probably somebody in the Senate and then follow her all the way to the White House.

Click here to read KCET's interview with "Borgen" star Birgitte Hjort on the challenges of playing Katrine and what to expect in Season 3.

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KCET site editor, movie over-analyzer, TV binge-watcher.
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