Exclusive: Writers Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Margrét Örnólfsdóttir and new director Ugla Hauksdottir have joined the team behind the Icelandic hit crime show.

“We had the opportunity to bring more women aboard, and we’re very proud to have them among us,” said Baltasar Kormákur to nordicfilmandtvnews, in the middle of shooting the anticipated returning season of Trapped.

Established crime writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir [I Remember You] and Margrét Örnólfsdótt [Prisoners] are working on the structure of the 10 part show, alongside head-writers Sigurjón Kjartansson and Clive Bradley.

Up and coming Ugla Hauksdottir, selected by nordicfilmandtvnews.com as 2016 Nordic Talent to Watch - has joined the team of directors including Kormákur, Oskar Thor Axelsson and Börkur Sigthorsson.

“Ugla graduated from Columbia University and won a DGA Students award [for her short How Far She Went]. She is very talented and has experience in directing thrillers, so she was an obvious choice,” says Kormákur, who expands on the hot issue of gender equality in the film and TV industry. “We have many women working especially in production – such as my long-time collaborator Agnes Johansen -, but we can do much better,” notes the producer/director.

In Trapped season 2, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson reprises his role as chief police inspector Andri, who investigates a more complex and challenging murder case, alongside his investigating partners played by Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir and Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, but several new characters will be introduced. Andri is working in his old job in Reykjavik when he is entrusted with a controversial and highly political case: An impoverished sheep farmer from the Icelandic Highlands has set himself on fire in front of the capital's government headquarters, trying to kill the Minister of Economic Affairs. Initial research leads Andri to a remote valley in the north of the island. The picturesque mountainous landscape turns out to be a place of bitter conflict: the local farmers are fighting against the interests of international business sharks, driving the expansion of a state-of-the-art geothermal centre. 

“Plot-wise, the series is slightly different,” notes Kormákur. “People are not trapped physically but psychologically. As season 1 had attracted tens of millions of viewers around the world, which had never happened to such a scale on an Icelandic show, we decided to introduce topical issues, important to Icelanders. It will be a crime show with social consciousness, set against the beautiful Icelandic wilderness to make it visually stunning.”

The original Trapped was the highest rated series ever on RUV, followed by 86% of TV households in Iceland. In the UK it passed 1.2 million viewers on BBC Four and in France episodes 1 and 2 had more than 5.7 million viewers. Season 2 is produced again by Kormákur’s RVK Studios, in co-production with Dynamic Television (who handles worldwide distribution), RUV, ZDF and ZDF Enterprises, in collaboration with France Televisions, SVT, NRK and DR among others.

“The Weinstein Company had bought the US rights and sold it to Amazon, and now we’re dealing with the complicated situation there,” acknowledges the director of Everest.

Trapped season 2 will premiere on RUV late 2018.

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Meanwhile the prolific director is juggling as usual multiple projects at the same time for RVK Studios.

The English-language survival drama Adrift starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin is now three weeks into the director’s cut. RUV has commissioned a feature film and TV series based on Iceland’s literary gem Independent People written by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness. “I read this book when I was young. It’s my dream project to bring it to the screen,” said Kormákur who plans to ‘take his time’ with the screenplay to get it right. The major Icelandic project will be shot partly at Kormákur’s new film studios, on the outskirts of Reykjavik where post-production companies are gradually setting up shop.

Other projects include the supernatural thriller series Katla, currently in discussions with Studiocanal, the film I Am Victor, co-produced by SF Studios, with Bond writing duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on board, the UK-coproduced feature film Viking’ (Working Title) and TV series The Reykjavik Confessions (Buccaneer Media).

Asked which project would film next, Kormákur said: “The film and business are shifting all the time and you have to be flexible. I always have different things cooking at the same time, then when things get ready I just put then in the oven! I’m constantly asked to work on Hollywood machines, but I’m in a stage in my life where I’m looking for more interesting projects and these days, these are to be found in London and in Iceland,” he said.