Known for his diverse roles in such films as Gods and Generals, The Three Musketeers and D2: The Mighty Ducks, veteran film and TV actor Carsten Norgaard takes on his best role yet in the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle. I recently spoke to Carsten about the series and the book on which it was based. You can follow him on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What was it about The Man in the High Castle that appealed to you?
I’ve always been a fan of Philip K. Dick – you’d know him for films based on his stories: “Blade Runner”, “Minority Report”, “Adjustment Agency” and “Total Recall”. I knew that this project has been around for a while, and I think originally we just thought we would make it a movie. It was just something that really appealed to me – the prospect of the storyline. What if? What if the Allied forces had lost World War? What would our world look like today? What would have been altered if the Axis of power had been victorious and had conquered the United States? I think that’s a pretty interesting what if!
Did you read the novel before you started filming?
You bet! It’s a very rich piece of work. Often I found I had to go back after reading a chapter, because there was so much information, and re-read it. I think the challenge, which Frank Spotnitz and the other writers masterfully took care of was converting the novel into a serialized story and at the same time honoring a great piece of literature.
Besides reading the book – how much research did you do, if any to prepare for the role?
I was fairly familiar with the history of World War II, growing up in Denmark, and being occupied by the Germans. That was very much a part of our history – you know, you would hear stories. So, I was fairly familiar with that. When we suddenly jump into an alternate reality (in The Man in the High Castle), Frank (Spotnitz) was very good at helping us with the 17 years from when the real war ended until 1962. We had character backgrounds and stuff in order to pitch the time period.
You’ve had so many different roles, everything from The Mighty Ducks to now this – so what do you look for in a role?
Something that’s challenging. I mean, in this specific role here, Wegener is a double agent, originally posing as the businessman Victor Baynes, but in reality he’s Rudolph Wegener. He’s anxious and worried about the potential power vacuum that could happen caused by Hitler’s death which could lead to a war with the Japanese. He has this secret meeting with Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), his counterpart, to avoid the war.
Having said that, you see – he’s a complex character. He has many levels. He’s done terrible things, the guilt of his actions weigh heavily upon him and made a mess of his family life. You could say he is haunted by the atrocities he’s committed on behalf of the Reich. He’s trying to avoid a war between the Japanese and the Nazi empire, so it’s an attempt for atonement, or a road to redemption.
I was also excited to do an Amazon show. I think the “binge-watching” thing is fabulous! It tends to really engage with the story. It’s like a modern book, you can read it at your own discretion and as much as you want, depending on your time and how engaged you are in the story.
I agree 100% with that – I am a huge binge watcher! What types of shows do you binge watch?
“House of Cards”. I wait for the end of the season to watch “Homeland” or “Game of Thrones” (laughs).
What’s it like working with Amazon? On a project like this?
I think the level of freedom they bestowed on the project and trust, is amazing. We’ve tried to honor a great piece of literature and be custodians of the written word.
Where did you film The Man in the High Castle?
Wow! You can’t tell that.
No – there are some very talented people out there!
What was it like on the set? What kind of atmosphere was it?
One of the main things I took away from this experience is that collaboration is the essential key to a creative flow of a process. I think that everybody in front of and behind the camera were very proud custodians of their domain. Right out of the gates, people were saying that this was Amazon’s House of Cards. That’s an honor to be bestowed. The reviews were very positive. I think, everybody brought their A-game to the set! I think that there was a collaborative effort. We exchanged information and I think it’s ultimately shown on screen.
How long was the shoot?
I think we started in sort of mid-April and wrapped in September. Actually I was done on the16th of September.
You have an economics degree…
How does one go from economics to acting?
I think that most people, whatever they do, they act. Politicians are probably the greatest actors because they seduce nations! Having said that, I always loved movies, and was fascinated by all of it – but I don’t come from a family background that has any relationships to it. It was one thing that I loved exploring after my economics degree.
Do you have more plans to produce?
Yeah – I have a couple things in line. It’s a huge undertaking of time. So, right now I’m concentrating on my acting. But there are a couple of things that I’m sort of working on, on the side.
That’s awesome! What is next for you?
Well, hopefully season 2, right? (Laughs).
Yeah, hope so!
That’s it. That’s… it. I have two or three different projects that are a little too early to talk about right now.