In case you missed it, over the past year PBS started carrying a new drama franchise: Walter’s Choice. The franchise presents pan-European dramas and mysteries, all curated by Walter Iuzzolino, an Italian-born producer and crative director with a passion for good television. Through this franchise, audiences (and we in WGBH’s Drama Club) have become completely hooked on series like Modus, Resistance, and Line of Separation.
Earlier this spring, PBS rolled out the latest Choice: Before We Die. A Swedish thriller, Before We Die tells the tale of Hanna Svensson, a police officer who becomes deeply embroiled in the seedy Stockholm underground. After her colleague (and lover) is kidnapped under mysterious circumstances, Svensson follows his trail — testing her relationships and morals in the process.
Before We Die is gritty and grim (as we've come to expect from our Swedish thrillers!) with a storyline that is packed with twists and turns. But as good as the storyline is, we all know the script is only one part of a well-crafted series — the cinematography, direction, editing and cast are factors just as important. And while Before We Die masters each of these facets, it’s the cast that truly makes this series great. Let’s meet them, shall we?
Marie Richardson as Hanna
Our leading lady, Marie Richardson, breathes life into the layered portrait of Hanna Svensson. Tough and street-smart, Hanna is not without her vulnerabilities — namely, the people she loves. Richardson has had an amazing career in Sweden. A performer with the Royal Dramatic Theatre, she performed in several productions directed by Ingmar Bergman, including Madame de Sade and A Doll’s House. She also had a cameo in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, as well as a role in Sweden's political drama Blue Eyes.
Adam Pålsson as Christian
As Hanna’s son, Christian, Adam Pålsson brings compassion to an otherwise crooked character. While Christian’s actions are often contradictory and unpredictable, the inspiration for his decisions usually comes from love and loyalty. Pålsson has seen roles on both sides of the Atlantic. While he’s taking on the role of Kurt Wallander in Sweden’s upcoming Young Wallander, you may have also spotted him as Mads in the American sci-fi comedy Avenue 5.
Magnus Krepper as Björn
When Hanna’s colleague/lover disappears in a strange situation, Organized Crime Inspector Björn is put on the case. Portrayed by Magnus Krepper, Björn is rough around the edges, curt, and a foil for Hanna from the start. Krepper has seen a number of high profile roles, such as Hans Faste, the cop with a grudge for Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo films. He also took on the character Pieter in Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness.
Malgorzata Pieczynska as Dubravka
The grand dame of the Mimica crime family, Dubravka may not be the titular boss of their syndicate, but she certainly rules the roost. Polish actress Malgorzata Pieczynska lends Dubravka a steely, incisive air; this is one woman you do not want to be on the wrong side of. Pieczynska acts both in Sweden and her mother country of Poland. While she’s appeared alongside Before We Die co-star in 2015’s Blue Eyes, she also continues to portray Aleksandra in Poland’s long-running soap, M jak milosc.
Sandrea Redlaff as Blanka
Blanka Mimica is a curious one. She hopes to become a lawyer, despite her family’s not-so-legal work. Though she is engaged to Stefan, she certainly also has eyes for Christian. Sandrea Redlaff is a relatively newer face in the Swedish acting scene — this is one of her first reoccurring roles in series — but she lends Blanka a fascinating sense of conviction. While Redlaff hasn’t had much screen time in her career, she may look familiar to drama fans: she took a turn on Wallander as Signe von Enke.
Alexej Manvelov as Davor
Last but not least we come to Davor, the head of the Mimica family. While most of the characters here are layered and complex, Davor is a classic example of the sympathetic villain. Alexej Manvelov gives Davor all the cool calm and fiery temper of a Swedish Michael Corleone. His excellent performance is no surprise, as he’s tackled tricky roles before. He appeared in the awesome Swedish Apocalypse film, The Unthinkable, and was featured in HBO’s Chernobyl. Playing Garo, one of the soldiers dispatched to “clean up” the neighborhoods around the nuclear power plant, his role may have seemed small — but he made up for it with his outsized contribution to the show.
Watch Before We Die on Passport today!