Louise Peterhoff on starring in More4’s hard-hitting Blue Eyes

Louise Peterhoff stars as Elin Hammar in new political thriller'Blue Eyes. Picture: Channel 4
Louise Peterhoff stars as Elin Hammar in new political thriller'Blue Eyes. Picture: Channel 4
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BIZARRELY it was The Potato Country, a Fringe show about the Swedish love of potatoes, melancholia and life, that introduced Louise Peterhoff to the Capital.

“It was very nice,” the dancer-turned-actor recalls. “I was there about seven years ago with a dance act, we performed every day for a week in a small theatre.

“We also rented a car and went on a trip around Edinburgh. I thought it was really nice, so vibrant.

“I would never have thought to visit had it not been for the Festival, and it’s always exciting to discover cities you wouldn’t have otherwise gone to on your own. That is when you go, ‘Wow, this is really something’.”

Peterhoff started her performing career with the Royal Swedish Ballet but is now a familiar face in more dramatic roles on stage and screen.

Series three of the Nordic Noir favourite The Bridge introduced her to British viewers – she played Annika Melander, a funeral parlour proprietor.

On Friday, she returns to our screens to star in the explosive new series Blue Eyes, More 4’s ten-part political thriller set in Stockholm.

In it, the 38-year-old plays 
parliamentary chief of staff Elin Hammar, a role she was attracted to from the moment she read the script.

“It was nice to read and work with something so current,” she says.

“There are lots of crime series, but many don’t appeal to me because the first scene usually shows a woman being sexually abused and then brutally killed. “For me it was so nice to read a script that wasn’t about that. It was current and political, and the part I play is someone with an agenda, not just someone’s girlfriend or daughter.”

Hard-hitting, Blue Eyes explores issues of immigration and nationalism, reflecting current social and political conversations across Europe.

“The show was written a while ago and it’s quite scary how they were able to see into the future,” reflects Peterhoff. “The writers looked at was going on in Europe and now Sweden has followed and caught up, meaning the existing political crisis makes Blue Eyes even more relevant.”

The politics of Blue Eyes does indeed set it apart from other Nordic Noir dramas as it tackles the rise of the far right in the country head on.

As the drama begins there are only a few, crucial weeks until the nation goes to the polls and the chief of staff at the justice department has disappeared.

As her replacement, Hammar, tries to discover what happened, she is thrown into a conspiracy of lies, falsified documents and hidden agendas.

At the same time, an extreme right party is heading towards its best election ever, just as series of terror attacks send shock waves through the nation. Looking at Europe today, the series is perhaps almost too close to the truth for comfort.

“We have a right-leaning, anti-immigration party in Sweden who describe themselves as ‘social conservatives,’ says Peterhoff.

“A few years ago, it wouldn’t have been acceptable to associate with them because of their radical views.

“Slowly, it’s becoming more and more acceptable to work with them politically. That is quite scary. ”

Peterhoff describes the portrayal of the radical terrorist group in the series as “very brutal” and disturbing because “many of these people appear quite human”.

We were worried about being overly sympathetic but hopefully Blue Eyes will encourage discussion of these topics,” she says. “But it had to be complex. It’s not simple, there is no ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s views, you can understand how they came to be that way.”

In preparation for her role, Peterhoff had the opportunity to meet her real-life counterpart.

“It was really nice to ask her for information I couldn’t get through reading,” she says. “I was more interested in asking about personal things like her relationship with the minister, which was more private than I could have imagined.

“She saw herself as someone who needed to know intuitively what the minister needs and who will offer herself as a scapegoat so that the minister remains the nice guy.”

As viewers in the UK prepare to meet Elin Hammar for the first time, Peterhoff is looking ahead and hoping there may be an opportunity to return to the role.

“I would love to. It’s such a privilege to work with a character over a long period of time because you can really get into it, and Elin is someone I really care for.”

Blue Eyes, More 4, Friday, 9pm, with catch-up on All4.com/WalterPresents