Happy birthday to the mighty Rolf Lassgård, who turns 63 today! Big Rolf, as he is affectionately known to MHz Choice viewers, first burst onto Swedish TV screens as Gunvald Larsson in the early-’90s series of Martin Beck movies, starring the late, great Gösta Ekman as Martin Beck. (Unlike the later Peter Haber/Mikael Persbrandt series, these were straight adaptations of the original Sjöwall-Wahlöö novels.) Rolf made a memorable entrance as Gunvald in Roseanna, donning a pair of shades before sliding across the police station floor on a rickety office chair – a Nordic riff on Tom Cruise’s famous hallway slide in Risky Business, thankfully minus the tighty whities.

Rolf Lassgård

Later, Rolf became the very first actor to play Kurt Wallander and became so attached to the part that, in later years, Henning Mankell admitted it was very difficult for the audience to accept another actor in the role. To date, no other actor has played Kurt quite like Rolf did, at that period in the character’s life. Krister Henriksson fits the mature Wallander to a T, but Rolf Lassgård’s performance in The Original Episodes was powerful and unique at the time, and cemented him as the face of the first wave of Nordic Noir TV.

Rolf Lassgård in Wallander: The Man Who Smiled

Next, Rolf took on the role of Sebastian Bergman – a strong-willed, outspoken, sex-addicted police profiler still coming to terms with the loss of his wife and daughter in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Rolf played up the abrasive, anti-social nature of the character, contrasting beautifully with the rare moments where the viewer saw through the bravado and glimpsed the wounded soul underneath.

Rolf Lassgård in Sebastian Bergman

Following his acclaimed performance as the title character in the Academy Award-nominated (for Best Foreign Language Film) A Man Called Ove in 2016, Rolf will next be seen as hard-nosed investigator Lars Martin Johansson in Death of a Pilgrim and The Fourth Man, a pair of miniseries based on novels by renowned Swedish criminologist and author Leif GW Persson – coming to MHz Choice later this spring!

Rolf Lassgård in Death of a Pilgrim

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