Pilou Asbæk is known for his amazingly convincing performances in Danish cinema and recently his work has appeared on the international screen. As a foreign actor of a small nation, Asbæk has had to leave the traditional mindset of Nordic countries, known as “Jantelov” behind him to embrace his own success and receive recognition amongst Hollywood legends.
Asbæk has made a name for himself due to his spontaneous “freshness” and powerful presence in R (2010) and A Hijacking (2012). However, he is known by his fellow Danes as ‘Kasper’ – spin doctor of a central politician, from the political drama Borgen (2010-2013). Asbæk gave such authenticity to his character Kasper, a cynical, bright and intense young man, that he caught the attention of almost 1,5 million people, who religiously watched him on television every Sunday night. In 2011, he received the Shooting Stars Award of Berlin International Film Festival which recognized him as one of ten young European Actors to watch – a prize he definitely deserved.
Asbæk comes from a family that encourages artistic expression; his parents ran a gallery in Copenhagen, his grandfather was the late artist Kurt Trampedach and he himself explored acting during his time at boarding school. He graduated from Denmark’s National School of Theatre in 2008 and started his career playing the leading role in Danish drama film Worlds Apart that same year. Asbæk is married to playwright Anna Bro who also comes from a family of actors and writes award-winning plays for Danish theatre. Surrounded by creative spirits, Asbæk has continued the legacy and found his own strong and independent voice in acting.
Besides featuring in many A-list Danish films, Asbæk has already worked with some of the great legends in film. He starred in Luc Besson’s Lucy (2014) with Scarlet Johansson and they worked together again on Ghost in the Shell (2017). He also worked with Morgan Freeman in Ben-Hur (2016), and according to Freeman, the two actors fed off of each other due to Asbæk playing the part of Pontius Pilate with the exact air of arrogance that Freeman imagined.
One of Asbæks greatest qualities is his commitment to his roles and his ability to measure up to his more experienced and Oscar-winning colleagues. Growing up in a small nation like Denmark, there is a natural submissive approach to things, which Asbæk indeed has been able to break out of. He repeatedly plays characters who are physiologically damaged or determent by greed as in Game of Thrones (2016-2017), where he plays the part of a power thirsty and almost mad self-proclaimed king of the Iron Islands. However, his own personality could not be further apart from his roles, off screen he always has a smile on his face and doesn’t seem to take life too seriously.
Pilou Asbæk’s influential and powerful performances are definitely worthy of the attention that they are receiving. His authentic and dramatic performances instantly draw the audience towards him and engross them in the world that he has created. His greatest talent is his ability to successfully fill any role and make it his own, to the point where you believe the role was tailored to him.