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Why Fjölnir From The Northman Looks So Familiar

"The Lighthouse" and "The Witch" director Robert Eggers is making Viking films mainstream with his upcoming drama "The Northman," which is set to make its theatrical debt on April 22. The film is a retelling of the Scandinavian tale "Amleth," and will follow a Viking prince of the same name on his coming-of-age journey as he seeks revenge for his father's death. 

"The Northman" features an impressive cast, including Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, and Björk. It's sure to be a grueling ride as fans get to know the characters through a tale of familial loyalty and vengeance. Aside from the household names, "The Northman" will feature a few lesser-known faces that may still be familiar to moviegoers and TV watchers. 

One of the characters that may look familiar is Fjölnir, the uncle of Amleth (portrayed by Skarsgård). Fjölnir is a brooding Viking figure — something that the actor behind the character says took some work in the gym. "There's a big fight scene, bare-chested that they wanted me to look a bit more Viking-ish," he said (via INews). 

The actor who plays Fjölnir may be new to Eggers' film universe, unlike his co-stars Dafoe and Taylor-Joy, but the odds are likely that you've seen him before in one of his many previous roles. 

A film role changed Claes Bang's career at 50

Claes Bang is a Danish actor — and a musician under his project This Is Not America — who got his start in the late '90s (via The Guardian). However, it was at the age of 50 that his career totally skyrocketed thanks to his role in Ruben Östlund's satire film "The Square." The film centers around Bang's character Christian, a Stockholm art curator who is renowned in his field. However, he begins to experience a series of personal turmoils amidst opening a controversial exhibit at his museum. Unfortunately, it doesn't go as planned, and the film provides interesting commentary on the superfluous nature of the art world.

The Swedish film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, and Bang also took home the best actor accolade at the European Film Awards (via THR). As Bang describes it, the film was life-changing for his career.  "​​I was cast in 'The Square,' which was like driving the Ferrari of acting. After it won at Cannes it all went from there," he explained to The Guardian. 

Bang played a villainous henchman in a 2019 film

Following "The Square," Claes Bang was very busy booking major film roles in Hollywood. He had a major supporting role in 2018's "The Girl in the Spider's Web," the sequel to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." The Fede Álvarez film is based on the 2015 novel of the same name, and stars Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander, a web hacker who teams up with a journalist to take down the wicked Spiders organization (via IMDb). 

Bang portrays Jan Holster, an accomplice to Lisbeth's estranged sister and leader of the Spiders Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks). Jan is best remembered as leading the plan to steal a security program that has access to all of the world's nuclear codes. He unsuccessfully tries to kill Lisbeth, but his action early on in the film is the catalyst of all the drama to come. He's the ultimate henchman, ready to do whatever is necessary to complete a job well done, which usually involves waving a gun at whoever is trying to stop the Spiders. 

He also starred in another art-centric thriller

After "The Girl in the Spider's Web," Claes Bang had the starring role in Giuseppe Capotondi's crime thriller "The Burnt Orange Heresy." It's another film based on a book of the same name and, similarly to "The Square," it deals with drama in the art world.

Bang portrays James Figueras, an art critic who is down on his luck. His only way out is seemingly when art dealer Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger) hires James to steal a painting (via IMDb). Alongside Bang and Jagger, "The Burnt Orange Heresy" stars Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, and Rosalind Halstead, among others.

Bang told HeyUGuys that it wasn't in his plan to take on another film set in the art world, but it was the script that attracted him to the role. Specifically, his unusual romantic dynamic with Debicki's character Berenice was of major interest: "Those games they're playing with each other all the time... That was the first thing. I just thought: 'This is so cool. I want to do this,'" he said. 

Bang portrayed Netflix's modern-day Dracula

Netflix subscribers may best recognize Claes Bang for his portrayal of the legendary blood-sucking vampire in the 2020 BBC One/Netflix "Dracula" miniseries. The fantasy series only featured three episodes, but it gives a fresh (and arguably more attractive) look to the centuries-old villain.

Bang told The Guardian that he had no problem being an edgier version of the character, even getting naked while filming in Slovakia for a good shot. It's his absurd take that makes Bang's Dracula portrayal stand out from his predecessors — he's still devilishly charming, but he has some human aspects to him that add to his complexity. 

Bang particularly enjoyed portraying the character because of his versatility. "He doesn't care if [his victims] are male, female, black, white, or anything in between. He's just interested in a lovely conversation and a decent meal," he told The Guardian.