– Roosevelt was a giant among our presidents, in contrast to today’s president, actor Kyle MacLachlan tells Dagsavisen.
He has the role of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the new Norwegian main series “Atlantic Crossing”, which is about Princess Märtha, her war years in American exile and the relationship between the Princess and the American president during World War II.
The main role like Princess Märtha has Sofia Helin, was known from the «Bridge». The series debuts on NRK on Sunday.
Atlantic Crossing. Photo: NRK
– I was not familiar with the story of Märtha and the Norwegian royal family in exile. It interested me and I liked that the series is based on a woman’s journey, MacLachlan tells Dagsavisen.
“Atlantic Crossing” has eight episodes, and NRK will air one episode a week until the end on December 13th. The series is produced by Norwegian Cinenord for NRK, with several international co-producers, and has been sold to 30 countries. In the USA, it will be shown on the PBS Masterpiece channel next year.
Kyle MacLachlan in «Twin Peaks» (1991). Photo: Fox Entertainment
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Kyle MacLachlan has a 30-year career in Hollywood behind him. Throughout his career, since his debut on “Dune” in 1984, Kyle MacLachlan has worked closely with the legendary David Lynch and has been an important part of the director’s ensemble. MacLachlan became immortal through his role as “special agent Dale Cooper, FBI” in David Lynch’s innovative TV series “Twin Peaks” in 1991.
He had to repeat the role in 2017, when Lynch unexpectedly returned to the “Twin Peaks” universe in an ambitious and critically acclaimed second season, 25 years after the first.
Kyle MacLachlan in Zoom interview with Dagsavisen. Photo: screenshot
MacLachlan tells Dagsavisen that he took on the role in “Atlantic Crossing” in part because he was impressed by the Norwegian director and author of the series, Alexander Eik.
– What decided this for me were the conversations I had with Alex. I liked his approach to the story, his meticulousness and the well-written script. It shows how people who make historical decisions and have great power, are at the same time insecure and have human weaknesses, says MacLachlan.
What happened between Princess Märtha and the President has been the basis for many historical speculations. The series suggests something romantic, and Kyle MacLachlan plays the role with energy and sparkle in his eyes.
– Roosevelt had a strong friendship with Märtha, it was definitely an emotional attraction between them. Did it become something physical? I don’t know, and we don’t give an answer to that in the series. We suggest that there may have been something physical. But we didn’t cross the line. We try to tell the story with respect for royalty, says Kyle MacLachlan.
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– President Roosevelt was a notorious flirt, he liked company, he liked to invite people to the White House and they just stayed there. It was the cleanest hotel, with great dinners and long conversations about whiskey and cigars. Perhaps it helped Roosevelt to forget his physical disabilities, says MacLachlan, about the American president who was in a wheelchair.
When Hitler’s Nazi forces occupied Norway, King Haakon and King Olav fled to Britain, while Märtha and the couple’s three children went first to Sweden and then to the United States, at the invitation of President Roosevelt, who let the family live in the White House. What was the reason why the American president was so careful with the Norwegian royal family?
– It was Roosevelt’s nature to care. And he understood that it was important to be aware of what happened to Norway at the beginning of World War II.
– And Roosevelt fought a lot uphill at home. Few wanted the United States to go to war. The country was still deeply affected by the pain of the First World War. There was a strong sense of isolationism – “America first”, which we suggested in the series.
– But Roosevelt understood that the United States had to join the war to stop Hitler and Nazism. And in Märtha he met a like-minded man, someone who also saw Hitler’s threat and who encouraged him to act.
Atlantic Crossing. Photo: NRK
The Norwegian royal family came to the United States as a war refugee. The series also questions whether the United States will accept Jewish refugees from Europe. The parallels with the current world situation are obvious:
– Today it is strange to imagine a royal family in such a situation. In one moment, the royal family is having fun as usual, the next moment the war arrives in their backyard. It is an impressive part of the story told in “Atlantic Crossing”, how quickly the world can turn upside down. It is a reminder of how easily everything can be lost. You have to be aware of that, and not be complacent, MacLachlan believes.
In the series, we meet President Roosevelt in the 1940 war year, where he struggles to be re-elected president (spoiler: he won). By historical coincidence, “Atlantic Crossing” makes its Norwegian TV debut as President Donald Trump struggles to be re-elected.
“I will not vote for Trump,” said MacLachlan.
– It seems that the United States is ready for a change now. The pendulum swung very far from the Obama years, now we need a move back. But whether Trump is re-elected or not, there is a big compromise around this election, bigger than it normally is. It’s a bright spot, says MacLachlan, who tells Dagsavisen that he has regular contact with David Lynch.
Very good coffee
In 2017, they worked together again, when MacLachlan managed to play his most iconic role again: Dale Cooper in “Twin Peaks”, an ambitious 18-episode series that was hailed as a highlight in the 2010 television drama.
Kyle MacLachlan and David Lynch at the launch of “Twin Peaks: The Return” in 2017. Photo: NTB
– It was a pleasure. Not just playing Dale Cooper, but working with David Lynch again, which I hadn’t done in five years. It was thrilling and unexpectedly nostalgic for me when Cooper came out of his coma – or should we say fog – and went back to Twin Peaks.
“Very good coffee” is the most famous phrase by Dale Cooper and Kyle MacLachlan, and one of the most famous in TV history. MacLachlan says he drinks coffee with David Lynch regularly, but now mainly at Zoom, where the interview with Dagsavisen takes place.
– When was the last time I spoke to David? Last week! We live close to each other here in Los Angeles. We often talk about Zoom, David and I, Laura Dern, we also tend to be. We are good friends, have a cup of coffee and talk about loose, steady, global events, says MacLachlan and raises his cup of coffee to greet.
– But if there is something more “Twin Peaks”, it is not good to say. I didn’t hear anything, so I have my doubts.
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