For the fourth time the Swedish/Danish actor David Dencik is under Mikael Marcimain's direction, playing the lead role as the extrovert Henry Morgan in the feature film Gentlemen and TV series Gentlemen & Gangsters produced by B-Reel Feature Film for SVT. The prolific actor who has appeared in over 60 films in the last decade spoke to us about the project and his attraction to the darker side of the human soul.

You've just started filming Gentlemen & Gangsters based on Klas Östergren's best-selling novels. How long will the entire shoot be?
DD: We have done winter shoots last week and we have one more day. Then we will wait for spring time to resume filming from May 1st until end of June, and wait again for the autumn to shoot from September 1st until November 1st. It's a very long and complicated shoot because we have a triple chronology, repeated events occurring over a different time period.

What attracted you to the project?
First of all it is directed by Mikael Marcimain with whom I have worked three times before (The Laser Man, Upp til Kamp, Call Girl) over the last decade. Then the project is based on a key epic novel in Swedish culture that I had read and enjoyed. My character is very extravagant, expressionist, larger than life, one of those characters any actor male or female would love to play because in a way life is a stage for him. These characters don't really come in real life.

There is a darker side of his personality as well. He is in love, but stuck with a girl who insists on seeing an older, richer guy at the same time. It's a very unbalanced relationship. Then another dark side of his personality is the fact that he has a machine gun in his apartment and gets connected to Sweden's international weapon trade.

How do you usually work with Mikael Marcimain and how did you prepare for your role?
DD: Here Mikke (Marcimain) and I are in the hands of the book and its author Klas Östergren. You can always refer to it as if it were a religious text. Then we have different attitudes towards the content of the book. Usually Mikael lets me be pretty much. We haven't gone very far yet in the filming so it's hard to tell.

In terms of preparation, my character is a great pianist, a great chef, a boxer; hooked on smoking and drinking. I've started taking piano and boxing lessons not to be a complete fool when I play him.

Do you have a specific acting method?
For me acting is part preparation, part improvisation as I invent my part as I go along. I try to find scenes in the script or book that inspire me. It's a somewhat academic discipline, although I have no method to it. Having said that, my acting is not far away from who I am and I was cast for the role of Henry Morgan because Mikke felt I was the right option. I hope I will become the character; that my personality and the character will meet after a while.

Looking at the various roles you've played, you seem to be attracted by outcasts, individuals struggling to find their place in society...
DD: You can discuss if it's the actor who seizes the character or vice versa. If Daniel Day-Lewis had played Veronika in A Soap it would have been a totally different film.  But I must say I do pick up darker characters that find it hard to socialise. In Laser Man for instance my character wanted to be part of Swedish society by dying his hair, and he killed immigrants because he thought that's what people wanted. In Sara Johnsen's All that Matters is Past, my character Ruud is another dangerous social misfit. The common traits in those characters are not their difficulty to socialise but HOW they socialise. I don't know if that's me or if that's the character...maybe we should get a therapist to analyse my work!!

Well in Lisa Langseth's upcoming film Hotel in which you're cast against Alicia Vikander, you actually are in a therapy group. What else can you say about your character in the film?
It's very much the same kind of character again, someone who finds it hard to communicate, interact socially with other people. Hotel was one of the most satisfying work experiences for me. We were a group of people in therapy situation, and we actually laughed a lot during the shoot. We had great fun. My character has a dark side but he has an entertaining/comical side that I really enjoyed doing after the various psychopaths and weirdoes I've played! I enjoyed exploring the lighter traits of existence.

You've had parts in a few English-speaking films over the last couple of years, from Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steven Spielberg's Warhorse to Susanne Bier's upcoming Serena. How were those experiences?
The Steven Spielberg set was of course massive with 200 people behind and in front of the camera. It felt like the inauguration of the Olympics! Otherwise all these films were shot in Europe, so it was not that different on a day to day basis from working in Scandinavia. With Tinker Tailor, I felt very privileged to play with Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt etc. I don't come across those actors very often so it was a humbling experience. In Scandinavia, I know a lot of actors and we have a much more profane relationship. But going into the king of Solomon's mine of acting was very special. They knew little of my career whereas I knew much about their work.

Is this the type of path you'd like your career to take in the future?
Absolutely. It would be like a dancer having three legs or a soccer player having two balls. It's another field of work. The language is what carries acting around and I feel very comfortable with the English language. I do go to Hollywood a lot these days and there are a lot of Scandinavian directors working there already.

Many Scandinavian directors, actors, writers are making it there now, and Nordic TV drama has widened their work opportunities around the world. It must be exciting to be part of this Scandinavian wave...
Definitely. It's a great time to be an actor today in Scandinavia. With globalisation, the world is becoming closer and everything is smoother. I can do an audition and put it online. Younger Scandinavian actors are also very good in English and can function almost as Americans.

And in Scandinavia you seem to work with the same ease on Danish, Swedish and Norwegian films. Do you feel you get offered more and better scripts from each territory?
It's very hard to define a national film culture today in the Nordic region. There are a lot of Danish actors in Sweden, Swedish actors in Norway etc. They are exchanging know-how all the time. It's more and more coming together. Creativity has exploded and people are being braver across Scandinavia.

What's next for you after Gangsters & Gentlemen?
This project will continue until the end of the year. I'm already talking to other people but there is nothing specific yet.