Well received by world buyers and MIPCOM attendees on Sunday night’s’ official screening at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, the series based on Jan Guillou’s celebrated literary work moves away from the classic spy thriller set in the Cold War, and enters a contemporary world of espionage, paranoia and geopolitical games. 

Carl Hamilton (Jakob Oftebro), freshly back from the US and not under Swedish intelligence service orders, is caught up in the investigation of a terrorist attack committed by extremists. Contacted by a veteran agent (Krister Henriksson), he goes back to defend his country, but soon finds himself in the middle of a life-threatening mission against an invisible enemy with traces leading to Russian, Swedish and US intelligence forces. 

The series was produced by Dramacorp/Pampas Studios and Kärnfilm, in co-production with
C More/TV4, Beta Film and ZDF, in association with ZDF Enterprises, and support from Creative Media.
Beta Film is global distributor. Nordic broadcasters that have picked up the show include TV2 in Norway, DR in Denmark and MTV3 in Finland. 

Jakob Oftebro, what was your first reaction when you were asked to play young Hamilton?
JO: It felt like a true honour. Hamilton is of course taken from Jan Guillou’s successful books, but most importantly, he is an iconic character, like Hamlet, that means so much in Scandinavia. He was brought to the screens before by some of the best Swedish actors, so for me to offer my take was a true privilege.  

The series is also a new version set nowadays and not during the Cold War…
Petter Rosenlund:
Yes it is updated, modernised, but the character and his background, his relationship to his superiors in Sweden and his family are the same.

I loved the original novels and the portrait of the agent from a super-democratic society. But it needed to be updated.

What were the main challenges to create a new and modern Hamilton?
Hamilton didn’t have iPhones at the time! The biggest difference is that we don’t have the East/West Cold War environment and ideological clashes, which is replaced in the series by market economy and geo-political power-play, cyber attacks. This is a problem to secret agent Hamilton. He doesn’t know who his enemy is anymore, who to trust, and to be loyal to, what loyalty means.

JO: It’s difficult to remain incognito in a society where everyone is watching everyone, where surveillance cameras are everywhere.

Jakob could you describe your character more in detail?
JO: Hamilton is obviously younger in the series, quite insecure and complex. We follow him on his journey as he becomes a secret agent. At the beginning, he has big ideals, he wants to change the world, but suddenly he is caught in a system and tries to get out of it. This was challenging and interesting for me as an actor.

What are the main differences between Agent Hamilton and Jason Bourne or James Bond that we’ve been used to watching on screens?
JO: We see him in every day situations, not often portrayed in spy movies or series. I met real intelligence service people for my role, and I realised that these guys are actually different from the way they are portrayed on screen. They are the most calm, relaxed super slick guys. They talk about their job, their training, about killing when they have to, in the most natural way. It was fascinating and extremely helpful for me to prepare for the role.

I felt I just needed to know what they know and be as focused as they are, then basically be just myself. Of course the hard part of being a secret agent is that you can’t do whatever you like, you have to be reliable and obey rules. I had the find that balance.

PR: Again the challenge about creating this story was to balance the image of the perfect guy with a level of uncertainty, to make him more human.

JO: Exactly. Ultimately he is a human being. And unlike many onscreen clichés about secret agents, trained to kill, who sometimes have a break by sleeping with beautiful women, before going back to killing, here we have a man who is altered by what he does and what he sees. Just like in reality. Because no matter how long you train, both mentally and physically, eventually you are affected, otherwise you’re a sociopath!

How much did you have to train physically for the role?
JO: I had a lot of military, functional training. I didn’t want a kind of ‘supermodel’ physical training, but an efficient military training. Again, I researched how agents train, and this is what they do-functional training.

Erik Leijonborg how did you feel about approaching this iconic material?
I felt honoured, passionate and stimulated. I was so keen to do it and especially to work on Petter Rosenlund’s script. Of course all stories are told in different ways all the time and here, it had its own uniqueness. I tried to give it a special realistic style. The series is truly character-driven, not action-driven and that was all the more exciting.

Tell me more about your visual style on the series?
Well the material is what drives the action and not the other way around. Here, I tried to find a documentary style, to make it real and easily relatable to, without a filtered-glamorous style.

What references did you have in mind?
EL: I looked into Homeland, The Body Guard, The Bureau, that also have realistic styles. Yet although you find inspiration in what is out there, you want to be unique and find your own voice, life experience, using the material and the wonderful actors who work with you.

Is another season ready to go?
Petter Rosenlund: We are developing a new series, with a completely different story. The challenge is to explore where in the real world do we need those kind of agents, how they can help us.