Here's One River That Could Run and Run. Stellan Skarsgard Plays a Cop Haunted by Dead Victims

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), October 10, 2015 | Go to article overview

Here's One River That Could Run and Run. Stellan Skarsgard Plays a Cop Haunted by Dead Victims


GIVEN the BBC's passion for so called Scandi Noir or Euro thrillers such as Spiral, The Killing and Wallander, it was inevitable that we'd see more dramas mix the best talent from here and the continent.

And when it comes to A-list Scandinavian talent, you don't get much better than Stellan Skarsgard.

Okay, some of his dad dancing in Mamma Mia may have been questionable, but his string of credits, from Good Will Hunting and the US version of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo have helped make him one of Hollywood's go-to guys when searching for Swedish talent.

In a new BBC drama series he plays John River, a brilliant but troubled police officer, while Last Tango In Halifax's Nicola Walker almost steals the show as his late colleague, Detective Sergeant Jackie 'Stevie' Stevenson, a lover of cheesy music and fast food who was murdered while on duty.

When a murder suspect jumps to his death while being pursued by River, the pressure and scrutiny that surrounds him escalates fast.

RIVER BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm As the investigation into Stevie's murder begins to reveal her deepest secrets, our hero has to question everything he thought he knew about his friend.

Stellan admits it's not the easiest of dramas to sum up.

"If it was a normal TV series it would be rather easy to tell you about it but it's not and that's why I'm in it," he explains.

"You could say it's a crime story on the surface, but it's really more about a person's breakdown or his psychological status."

All brilliant TV detectives need a gimmick, whether it's Fitz's gambling or Ironside's wheelchair, and John River's selling point is his fractured mental state.

Skarsgard refers to his character as having "River syndrome". The fictional police officer is troubled, haunted by dead and dying victims and killers from unsolved murder cases. The figures that drift in and out of his consciousness are 'manifests' - figments of his imagination that enable him to discover the truth behind the crimes he investigates.

"We've heard a lot about people that hear voices, but he actually sees those people as well, that he's talking to, and very often it is victims of crime that pop up and have conversations with him. …

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