Power Play’s creators, director and main actress on NRK’s punky political drama

Apr 21, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: Nordisk Film & TV Fond (by Annika Pham).

We sat down in Cannes with the creative team behind the Norwegian show Power Play which just won Best Series and Best Music at Canneseries.

Inspired by true events, Power Play (Makta) is the amazing story of Gro Harlem Bruntland, who in the late 70s, works as a doctor, fighting for self-determined abortion, and stumbles into politics.

As the Labour Party is affected by internal conflicts and the government implodes around her, she learns to play her own games of power and eventually becomes Norway’s first female Prime Minister in 1981.

The 12x55’ series was jointly created and written by Johan Fasting, (Home Ground, Ninjababy) with actresses Kristin Grue and Silje Storstein.

Yngve Sve Flikke (Ninjababy, Home Ground) serves as concept director and Kathrine Thorborg Johansen (Post Mortem-No One Dies in Skarnes, Occupied) makes a splash in the title role. We spoke to them in Cannes.

What was the starting point for the series?
Kristin Grue: In 2017, Silje and I were watching a docu series about Norwegian Prime Ministers who had been ruling the nation for the last 40 years. One of them was Gro. We thought-ohh, this is interesting! We thought how come no one has done anything about her? Borgen was such a success, so why not do something about Gro? We approached our producer Camilla Brusdal and NRK, and they loved it.

Silje Storstein: We had no experience in writing, so we approached Johan. We started researching the topic and collaborating in a writers’ room.

What views did you have of Gro Harlem Brundtland when you started working on the show?
KG: When I grew up, in the late 80s and 90s, she was Prime Minister, so it actually felt strange when a man took over the premiership after her. Silje and I have been actively involved in the #MeToo movement in Norway. We were well surrounded and started thinking of Gro, who fought in a man’s world pretty much alone.

SS: For me, Gro was like an imposing personality when I grew up, known as ‘the mother of Norway’.

Kathrine Thorborg Johansen: I didn’t know so much about Gro - just the basics. When I heard about the project and was asked to audition, I ordered a lot of books and started to read about her and the politics in the 70s. I really wanted this job. It’s a dream character and dream project because of the entire creative and production team.

Yngvild Sve Flikke: I boarded the project early as I had worked with the creators before. I’m a decade older, therefore I probably had a different approach. Gro has meant so much for my generation of women. She was a ‘doer’, as a doctor, a politician, a wife, a mother. I have two teen daughters who don’t know about Gro. Telling the story to the younger generation, about her and the Labour Party’s power struggle at the time, was very appealing to me. Showing that much hasn’t really changed - issues about abortion [in the US], the environment, political manoeuvring, felt relevant, especially for the younger audience. You just can’t take for granted what we have achieved as women.

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