Ingrid Bolsø Berdal is only just starting to get the attention of moviegoers in America, after starring in Norwegian films such as Cold Prey, Cold Prey II and Escape. Following roles in American films such as Chernobyl Diaries and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the actress is poised for a breakout, starring alongside global superstar Dwayne Johnson in Hercules, which debuts on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD November 4.
The actress plays Atalanta, the only female in Hercules' group of mercenaries, whose skills with a bow and arrow are unmatched. Along with Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell) and Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), Hercules and Atalanta agree to help the King of Thrace defeat a nefarious warlord in director Brett Ratner's epic adventure.
This project had been in development for awhile before it went forward. Can you talk a bit about your reactions to the script and to the character of Atalanta?
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: When I read the script, I was quite intrigued and impressed by how they focused on the characters, and particularly Hercules' back story and what he is facing, emotionally, throughout the story. Quite a lot of times, when you read scripts for action-driven films, it's something that I, at least, find is lacking. When I read this, it kept me engaged, I thought it was fun, I loved the humor. I really was intrigued, also, by the group, the new take on the story, the Greek myth. It struck me, this group dynamic that mercenaries have, and how they now support Hercules and that they are a team. What made me want to do it is because of that, the emotional impact it had on me when I read it, and, also because, I found Atalanta the character as a fun task. I love doing action sequences, and she was also in this group, and I thought it was possible to create something where I could be a part of a team. I thought it would be fun.
One thing I enjoyed about this is, in a lot of these movies, you have the main guy and everyone else basically plays second fiddle, but I found this to be really balanced. You really got to see all of Hercules' team members do some really cool stuff, and they had interesting back stories. Was that something else that drew you in to the project?
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: When I read stuff, I don't necessarily think about how much I'm in it, per se. It's more, 'what is the function of this character?' Is it playable? Where can I contribute? The way that this played out, I found it possible to find the function. Obviously, it's a group of men, and Atalanta is maybe the heart of the group. She takes care of Hercules and watches out for him, and they have this strong bond from before. You don't get to hear a lot about the back story, but it was enough to feel like I can really participate. I felt like everyone in the cast was such a great group of people. We have so much fun, and, it was important, obviously, to, on screen, catch this good vibe kind of feeling. It was important that we were bonding as actors, and we really did. I had such a great time with these guys, and I learned so much from them too. It was just wonderful to see our friendship, that we could use that in the film.
There's a scene towards the beginning, a very small scene, but you can tell right away that Atalanta is very protective of Hercules, and that there is definitely a history there.
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: Yeah, it's so nice to see, the feedback that I get online from women and girls. It's nice to take part in something where you see the girls are being inspired. It's just good to have a character in the film, where she doesn't have to prove anything. Atalanta is very much in touch with herself, and she feels comfortable in this group, even though it's all men, and it was important to me that we created her as feminine as we could, to say that we don't have to act like guys. We can be strong and feel good about ourselves and still do it in a feminine way.
Can you talk about the training you had to go through for the archery scenes?
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: Pre-production on a project like this is just a thrilling experience. It was like five weeks, but that was really hardcore training, with both archery and stunt training and fight training. I had a wonderful stunt woman named Dayna Porter, who taught me so much. And, also, to train with all of the guys, every morning and every afternoon and every evening, it really helped us get that feeling of being a group. To have Dwayne Johnson, to watch him was such an inspiration. He's such a disciplined guy, and he spreads so much joy. That also meant a lot.
When shooting was under way, it seemed like almost every day he would post new photos or videos from the set. It seemed like everyone was having a blast.
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: (Laughs) Yeah, I've really become fond of Dwayne Johnson. He's a massive superstar, and, when you think about it, how do you wrap your head around all that? You meet him, and the way he's acting on set, he's such a humble and whole-hearted guy. He really wants everyone to feel welcome and he gives so much of himself. He was really a great inspiration.
Is there anything that you're working on now that you can talk about?
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: No, actually. I don't have a new project. Right now, I'm writing a little article for a Norwegian paper about education. I'm trying to inspire some of these kids, that's what I'm doing right now. When it comes to creative projects, in the following year, there is something that I really hope is going to go, but we'll see.
Is there no movement on Westworld then?
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: I do not know. There hasn't been an official "go" on that one, no. It's definitely something that I'm really hoping is going to happen. It's such a fantastic group of people, and just a mind-blowing concept. It's something I just hope a big audience can watch, because it's really exciting. Hopefully those people will also watch Hercules when it comes on DVD.
I'm sure they will. It's a lot of fun. We'll get the word out.
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal: Good. Thank you, Brian.