LiU-student plays lead in Netflix series

Hanna Ardéhn is a fourth-year student of psychology at Linköping University. At the same time, she is in the news as lead actor in Sweden’s first Netflix production, “Quicksand”, which premières on Friday 5 April. 

Hanna Ardéhn plays Maja i the series ”Quicksand”. Hanna Ardéhn plays Maja. Johan Paulin / Netflix

“It’s almost too big to grasp. In fact, I’m trying not to think about it – it just makes me too nervous”, says Hanna when asked about the fact that the series will be shown wherever Netflix is available, including the US and Great Britain.

She has spent the day studying at Linköping University. But yesterday she was working in Stockholm on the launch of the series, giving interviews all day. In the evening, she walked the red carpet at the official première of the series.

“So many people! We were on the carpet and they took loads of photos of us. It’s about as far away from student life as you can get.

”Hanna’s life has involved a lot of travel between Linköping and Stockholm recently. The series was recorded during the autumn, and recent weeks have been dominated by the launch, and getting ready for the online première on 5 April.

“It’s been fulltime studies and working full time on top of that. So, it was tough. But it worked because it was only for a limited period. Those who are responsible for my programme and courses have been very helpful, making sure that everything works. I’m very grateful that they’ve been there, and have helped me so much.”

How do you find time for everything?

“I don’t know”, says Hanna, laughing. “Somehow you make it work. It’s like at the start of term when students are involved with parties and looking after new students – even so we manage to cope with everyday life somehow. Some things do get a bit neglected, such as visiting the family or spending time with friends. But, well, as I say – it works somehow.”

“Quicksand” is based on a novel by Malin Persson Giolito with the same title. It was awarded best Swedish crime novel for 2016 by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy, and the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel in 2017.

The series opens with a high-school shooting in Djursholm, outside Stockholm. Maja, played by Hanna Ardéhn, is charged with the crime.

“The series follows her in a narrative about what has previously happened and what led to this terrible event. It’s a story that mainly concerns power, relationships and dysfunctional relationships. It discusses power in the form of who exercises power in a relationship between two people, and in the form of who has power in society”, says Hanna.

The series has received excellent reviews, and Hanna Ardéhn has been praised for her interpretation of the lead role, Maja. She herself found it challenging to become absorbed in Maja’s person.

“There were days when Felix, the other lead actor, and I went through really difficult scenes together; we went round crying all day long. There was a lot of such days that were emotionally draining. But at the same time, it was great to have been part of this process, simply because it was so challenging. I really felt that I grew as an actor during it.”

QuicksandFelix Sandman, known from the boyband FO&O, plays the male lead. Photo credit Johan Paulin / NetflixWhat was it like, working with Felix Sandman?

“His character in the series is extremely dark. So it’s comforting that he personally is exactly the opposite. I’ve felt secure acting with him, because I know that he is a genuine, kind and wonderful person.”

Hanna describes how she identifies with Maja, in that she also was an over-achiever in her teenage years.

“I can recognise myself in the way that she is a ‘good girl’ – the desire to perform well, get good grades, be appointed prefect, and make your parents proud. But I didn’t go to so many parties when I was a teenager; I tended to be the one who sat at home and watched films.”

How are you and Maja different?

“I suppose Maja is cooler than I was. I am probably more of a prankster, getting into mischief with my friends. I never went through a true rebellious phase, going to loads of wild parties and expressing extroversion in that way. I was instead probably a lot quieter, and more into TV series, sci-fi and fantasy. That sort of thing.”

When she was about 13 she saw “The Silence of the Lambs”, which became one of her favourite films, and profoundly influenced her choice of career.

QuicksandMaja (Hanna Ardéhn) with her defense lawyer (David Dencik) in the courtroom. Photo credit Johan Paulin / Netflix“I’ve always been interested in people and their motives. And I’ve always been a bit attracted to the darkness that exists in people. I got really hooked on psychology after seeing that film. The interplay between Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling, and the psychology of the cat-and-mouse game between them opened my eyes to the subject.”

Her acting career started early.

“When I was in playschool, my mother found me standing in front of a mirror practising how to swear”, she remembers, smiling.

Her parents supported her interest for the theatre. Hanna went to theatre groups from a young age and continued with acting throughout her childhood. She started going to casting sessions when she was 9 years old, and landed several roles in children’s series. Her CV also contains the role as Joy in the series “30 Degrees in February”, in the years 2012-2016.

What is your dream scenario for when you have completed your studies?

“I want to complete my education, get my degree, continue working with acting, and combine it with psychology, in some way. That’s my dream scenario.”

Hanna Ahrdén:

Age: 23
Lives: Linköping
Grew up: Åkersberga, Stockholm
Studies at LiU: 4th year of the Psychologist Programme (due to graduate in 2020)
Family: Mother, father and two sisters (one older and one younger)
Nickname: My sister sometimes calls me “Hanna Banana”, and my mum says “Hunny Bunny”
Favourite exercise: Yoga
Favourite food: Apples. And it’s important that they’re green apples. An apple can be a delight, or a terrible disappointment. Green, tart, crunchy apples are best. Red, pulpy apples are awful.
Relaxation: Sleeping, bingeing on Netflix
Most recently read book: Skäl av Emma Holm
Most recently watched film: The Godfather Part II
Most recently listened to song: Time To Go, Dean Lewis
Party or night in: Night in, or night in with friends
A secret about you that nobody knows: I have a morbid sense of humour


Translated by George Farrants

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