You might have enjoyed Trapped as a great addition to Iceland’s Nordic noir catalogue, but now the nation is ready to spread into other genres, with Baltar Kormákur’s Katla taking the leap into science fiction.
We spoke with Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð Jóhannesdóttir—better known by her stage name, GDRN—who stars in the series as Gríma, a young woman who emerges from the ashes of a devastating eruption of the volcano Katla. It turns out this death-defying and inexplicable feat is only the beginning for a sleepy Icelandic village—more thrills await them, like it or not.
The thrill of the Katla challenge
When Guðrún was approached by Baltasar’s casting director and asked if she wanted to audition for the part she embraced the opportunity, precisely because of the challenge it presented.
“It was a surprise, but it was something that I found that I really wanted to do, so I was really stressed,” she tells us. “I don’t remember much about the audition because I was so stressed about it. I really love doing things that do not come easy for me. I want to have a little bit of the unknown, this feeling of ‘I don’t know if I’m going to pull this off’. I love doing things that are challenging.”
Another big part of the draw for her was the freshness of Katla’s concept in an Icelandic context.
“I don’t think the Icelandic film industry has done something like this before,” she says. “This is something new. It has a young woman in the leading part, which is unfortunately not that common. But it’s also a sci-fi thriller and that’s not something I’ve seen in Icelandic movies, either. So it just felt new and exciting and that was what really made me think this is something that I really want to do.”
Camera as audience
As someone who’s performed on stage since she was five-years old, Guðrún felt she was able to apply a lot of her skills to acting as well.
“When I got in front of the cameras, I just realised that when I’m on stage, my whole point is to get the feelings that I’m experiencing within the song to the audience,” she tells us. “And this is exactly what you’re doing as an actress. You’re just trying to get your emotions through the camera to the audience, so it has kind of the same tone to it. So that was not something new for me and I got it really quickly.
” That said, performing for a solitary camera rather than a cheering crowd presented its own challenges. ”That was the difference between a live show and acting on camera,” she says. “No live show is the same, because you always have a different audience, setting and mood. It’s a conversation between you and the live audience, whereas the camera is not giving anything back. So it’s just up to you to keep the conversation going.”
Send GDRN scripts!
After the experience of Katla, Guðrún feels she has caught the acting bug.
“I definitely hope I will do more acting, because this was such a fun experience,” she says. “I felt that I got to see a bigger picture of what art can be. It was so rewarding and it gave me so much, I actually felt like it helped me a lot with the music, too. It gave me a bigger perspective of arts in general. So I really hope I’ll get to do more acting.”
Katla debuted on Netflix on June 16th.
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