The world of right-wing extremism comes to the surface in the Norwegian thriller series Furia. Ine Marie Wilmann (Troll) stars as Ragna, an employee at a refugee center in a small town in Norway who hides a dark secret from her colleagues. Ragna unexpectedly crosses paths with Asgeir (Kon-Tiki’s Pål Sverre Hagen), a police officer who moves to the town with his daughter to escape a past life he would like to forget.
When a shocking murder upends the town, Ragna and Asgeir find themselves in the crosshairs of a larger conspiracy spanning Europe. It leads them to Berlin, where they uncover a terrorist organization’s plot described as “Europe’s 9/11.” Available to stream on Viaplay, Furia is Nordic noir at its finest, as the thought-provoking series explores extreme right-wing terrorism and its potential impact on the world.
In an interview with Digital Trends, Wilmann and Hagen discuss their characters’ motivations in Furia, share their excitement behind the show’s global reach, and explain how the conflicts in the series mirror real-life events.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: I want to get into each of your characters first. We’ll start with yours, Ine. Your character is this dark, mysterious woman driven by this rage you often don’t see. What was your approach to playing this type of character?
Ine Marie Wilmann: I found her really interesting and fascinating from the very first point. I think there are several topics. She is a very nuanced and a very layered character. Her line of work and what she does throughout the series is layered at all points because she’s handling so much stuff at once. You also have this very deep connection to this personal trauma that she’s driven by, but that’s very much connected to this national trauma and this ideology that’s driving her to rebuild a world that she’s able to live in.
She’s very driven. At first, I was like, is this a revenge story? I think it’s also a story of how far you will go in order to do good. How much destruction will occur? When she [gets what she wants], will she then be able to live with herself? So to me, besides this work with the character, I also found the theme of the whole series very fascinating and inspiring. That’s a strange way to describe it because it’s so dark and disturbing, but that also affected the way I worked with the character. The character is so deep into all these topics, all these online worlds, and that was really fascinating and frightening.
Pål, your character is a police officer trying to start a new life with his daughter. You see in the first episode that he has this past life as a special ops officer. What did you see in your character that was appealing to you?
Pål Sverre Hagen: I think, as Ine said, it felt meaningful to both of us that the show tries to sort of tap into a real situation that affects not only Scandinavians and Europeans, but Americans as well, and many other places in the world. Trying to create a thriller that will entertain you, but also maybe spark a new thought or a discussion about extremism in all forms, how it works, and how it affects us every day.
When it comes to the character, I think that my main focus there was really the relationship with his daughter, and this sort of basic need to protect your child. And of course, he struggles a bit with the fact that it’s not just someone else’s fault that they’re in this situation. He has made some mistakes himself, and he continues to make some mistakes. I think that’s an interesting thing for a character when you have many problems and yourself is to blame for some of them.
Did either of you model your character after anyone in particular? Did you seek inspiration from either someone in your life or another movie/TV show?
Wilmann: Not in detail, but I followed the work of Austrian journalist Julia Ebner. From a very early age, she had been going undercover in both right-wing extremism environments and extreme Islam, trying to wake the world up to how these different environments feed off and influence each other, and how there’s a cultural war going on that we are blind to. I followed her work, and I tried to mimic her determination that she’s right. You can see on her face when she talks about these things, that she’s looking at these frightening things all the time.
She’s not able to block them out and live a normal life because she’s looking at this horror all the time. I picked different things from different people during the research process. I think both Pål and I had to do a lot of physical work that also influenced the way we carried our bodies. We tried to learn how the person working in this would behave or how they would look at the world.
You touched on the physical training. Your characters have a brief encounter in the first episode, where one gets the better of the other. If there’s a rematch, which character wins the fight?
Hagen: [Laughs] What do you mean?
It has to be a fair fight next time.
Hagen: Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.
This has to be a unique experience because the first season was filmed a few years ago. Usually, when you do a project, you film it, it comes out, and then you move on. But this is going to new markets with a new global audience, especially in America. What’s this experience been like, living with this project for so long, especially with another season coming?
Hagen: Yeah, as you said, there is another season coming. The first season seems a little bit behind us now. I think that both Ine and I were really interested in Gjermund Eriksen, the creator of the show. He had this ambition to sort of dig into this whole very complex, difficult situation and story [with] all these mechanisms to create a fictional thriller out of it.
Gjermund wants the show to involve not only Scandinavia and Europe, but also the U.S. He opens up that much more in season 2 because the themes being raised in the show are universal. Europe and the U.S. are so much affected by this. It’s sometimes hard for us to keep up with him because he is expanding the world of the show all the time.
We made this show before the war in Ukraine, and I think the first scripts for season 2 actually took place in Ukraine, so we had to change it. Now things are happening much faster than he could anticipate, even though it has been quite interestingly close to reality, and we’re seeing some events play out in reality that we touch on in the first season.
Wilmann: During the shooting of the first season, we were at several locations where things were happening in the real world that also were in the script. We were like, “This is our script. I can read about [this real-life event] in our script.”
Wilmann: That’s, of course, very frightening, but it also gives a deeper meaning to what we do, to feel that we are bringing these topics out with a smell of popcorn to them, but still accessible, these thoughts and these topics.
Furia is inspired by true events, but it may have to change to “based on true events” because it seems like right-wing extremism is happening as we speak.
Wilmann: It’s so international, all this radicalization. They’re feeding off each other, and it has no boundaries. It doesn’t stop at the borders. It moves throughout the world at all times. In that sense, it’s not a Scandinavian story.
Ine, I watched a video before this interview, and you said you knew you wanted to be an actor since kindergarten when you were doing a fairy tale, The Fox’s Widow. Then you got to do a fairy tale/mythological story in Troll, so you manifested your whole career in the fairy tale realm.
Wilmann: [Laughs] Yes.
Hagen: It’s full circle now for Ine.
Wilmann: But it doesn’t stop here! You mustn’t say it’s a full circle. It still has somewhere to go.
Hagen: It’s still open.
Troll became such a huge hit on Netflix. It shot right to number one on the weekly streaming charts.
Wilmann: I think the last thing I heard, I think it has like 170,000,000 hours.
Wilmann: Yeah, it’s crazy. Pål and I are actually in this miniseries that’s coming out on Netflix at the beginning of April as well called War Sailor. So very different projects coming out to the world in these days.
Hagen: And it is fantastic that we can share these stories now with this streaming thing. It has some challenges for us as an industry, but it also has some incredible possibilities. I think it’s just so great that we can share our stories no matter where we live. It’s a very, very inspiring time to work in storytelling.
Pål, maybe it wasn’t in kindergarten, but did you also have a moment where you knew you wanted to be an actor?
Hagen: Well, I still don’t know.
You’re doing pretty well.
Hagen: I don’t really know how I ended up [doing what I do], but I enjoy it, I must say. Not always, but sometimes. I really, really do every time it works. It’s hard to make a good TV series or a good movie. There are so many components that have to work together and succeed, but when it does, it’s amazing and such a great experience.
After fans watch season 1, what can they expect for season 2?
Wilmann: Without spoiling too much, there’s going to be a journey traveling across borders. We’re going deeper into Asgeir for your story, Pål. They have different tasks in season 2 than they had in season 1. We’re still holding the ideological [themes], and they’re still fighting.
Hagen: They are for sure.
The first season of Furia is now streaming on Viaplay. Visit the Viaplay site to sign up.