Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Van Zandt Talks about Netflix's 'Lilyhammer,' and Travels with Bruce

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Van Zandt Talks about Netflix's 'Lilyhammer,' and Travels with Bruce

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA - Decades of touring - with and without Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - have helped make rocker/actor Steven Van Zandt at home all over the world, but he says he never expected to be quite so big in Norway.

"Lilyhammer," the show in which Mr. Van Zandt plays an American mobster in witness protection who asks to be relocated to Lillehammer, Norway (because he liked what he saw during the 1994 Winter Olympics), returned Friday for a second season on Netflix.

It's still a hit in Norway, where it's produced and where the Season 2 premiere in late October attracted a 51.9 percent share of the sets in use.

The show, Netflix's first original, represented a leap as well for Norway's state network, NRK, where "they tend to favor putting a camera on the front of a ship and people watching it for 24 hours at a time," Mr. Van Zandt said, laughing, in a phone interview this week.

Don't assume he's exaggerating. Earlier this year, an NRK show about firewood reportedly included eight hours of continuous footage of a burning fire.

"It's radical, the content," Mr. Van Zandt said of "Lilyhammer," in which his character - who's decidedly less circumspect than Silvio Dante, the mobster Mr. Van Zandt played in "The Sopranos" - struggles with local customs while building a criminal enterprise. "You know, any kind of violence, they really are quite averse to. And, you know, that type of criminal behavior, especially from the star, is quite unusual."

I confessed I'd learned more about Norwegian society from "Lilyhammer" than from any other source: Was I being led astray?

"Well, we are having some fun with it, but part of the concept was to make Norway one of the characters of the show. Because it is such a mystery and people know very little about it, so I thought that would be fun to use that," said Mr. …

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