Laura Bach – Danish actress extraordinaire
By Helen Cullen, published in SCAN Magazine issue 72 - January 2015 | Photo: Magnus Ragnvid
Laura Bach captivated audiences world-wide with her intense and spirited performance as Katrine in the internationally renowned TV crime series Those who kill. The life-changing role catapulted Bach’s career into new heights full of exciting creative and personal challenges.
Those who kill follows a fictitious unit within the Copenhagen Police force that specialises in investigating serial murders. Portraying Katrine, the main protagonist of the series, Bach was the compelling driving force that inspired twenty-five national broadcasters across Europe to syndicate the programme. Bach also reprised the role when the TV show was adapted into the Danish feature film Shadows from the past. What is it about Scandinavian crime fiction that attracts such phenomenal attention?
“I have a feeling that when we do crime, we are very subtle in our expression, so it has this mysterious, intriguing way of capturing people’s attention so they want to know more,” Bach says insightfully. Playing the role of Katrine required her total commitment; it was a completely different challenge from her previous work. Bach explains the dramatic transformation: “I had long blonde hair and all the roles I’d played previously were femme fatale or girl next door types, so this was obviously quite different and intense. This character had a dark past, a gun, and killed people as her job. It was a completely different way of portraying someone.” Physically the character was also incredibly demanding, requiring extensive training. “I’ve been dancing since I was three so my body is very elongated and lean in my movements,” Bach explains, “but Katrine demanded for me to have a different, tougher body type, so I did a lot of boxing and I was trained by the police in how to hold a gun, shoot and use my voice. It was quite a physical process for me.”
Life after Katrine
There are many positives, but also significant challenges, that arise from playing such a distinctive character in a show as successful as this. Bach still thinks of Katrine with fondness. “For me, all the characters linger in your system because they are a part of you. She caused a massive change in my career and in my life so I evolved as an actress but also as a person.” A difficult legacy of such an iconic role is how difficult it can become for both directors and the audience to see the actor’s ability to take on new and surprising characters. Bach has worked hard, however, to create new opportunities for her career so that it can continue to thrive.
Her role as Gitte in the award-winning comedy drama Rita highlighted her excellent comic ability, a creative avenue that the actress is keen to pursue further. “For a long time I’ve wanted to do comedy,” Bach explains. “It’s a big part of who I am, but because I hadn’t been doing it it’s hard for people to imagine that it’s possible. Somewhere along the line you need to break the mould and that, for me, was Rita.” The year of 2014 also saw Bach excel in her role as Eve in the Italian mystery drama Last Summer. Working with director Leonardo Guerra Seragnoli and the multi-cultural cast was a very positive experience for Bach. “Working internationally is fantastic because we can learn so much from each other and I think it’s very important that we do. The way you work in Italy is very different from Denmark or England and so on, but the more we can learn to be more curious and generous, rather than self-absorbed, the better.”
From screen to stage
Working in the theatre is of huge importance to Bach; it is an expression of her craft that she relishes. “It’s a completely different, luxurious way of working that I enjoy very much,” she explains. “You have more time to try different things, to get to know your fellow actors, and with the theatre you get an instant reaction. You feel the energy in the room and if it’s working and the story captures people, you know immediately what effect it has.” Following the critical acclaim for her roles in the political theatre performance Brokenhagen in 2013 and children’s musical Pippi in 2014, Bach is very excited about her next theatrical adventure The man who wanted to remember, which will premiere in February. “This play will be amazing. It’s about a man who has done something horrible but he can’t remember anything. We’re doing the play inside and outside his head and I was so chuffed because I’ll be singing country music songs in Danish. Singing has been a huge part of my life for many years, I’ve done a lot of musicals, so going back to the theatre with a musical element is an amazing opportunity for me.”
Family Life in Copenhagen
Bach credits her accomplished parents with her positive outlook on life. “My whole foundation is my family. My mum is the most incredible woman on this planet and she’s always supported me enormously in everything.” The legacy of her upbringing allows Bach to be confident in herself despite the emotionally challenging industry that she works in. “They always told me to follow my heart, to follow my gut, so I’m not raised on fear,” she explains, “I’m raised on inspiration and love and that is the biggest gift that anyone can ever receive and I’m trying to pass that on to my child too. They taught me that happiness doesn’t come from me being an actor; it comes from inside me and through loving and being loved. The older you get, the more you understand how true that is.” Having lived in England, L.A. and South Africa, it is in her home city of Copenhagen that Bach chooses to raise her son. “I’ve done my fair share of living abroad and I’m incredibly grateful that I did so before I became a mother because Copenhagen is a great place for children to grow up. We are unbelievably blessed in this country and so very fortunate.”
The future looks bright for Bach and she is very appreciative of the career she has developed. “I know I’m incredibly privileged that I get to do drama, political theatre, comedies, entertainment, gun-slinging dark dramas, children’s theatre, musicals and films abroad – and I’m very grateful.” With a myriad of creative opportunities to choose from, she is now in a position to embrace work that ultimately fulfils her. “I would like the projects that I participate in to be more than just entertainment; I want them to bring us together as human beings and not tear us apart.” It is this empathy that also inspired her to produce a documentary highlighting human trafficking in Cambodia. In 2015, audiences can follow Bach on her emotional journey as she seeks to understand how such travesties can occur. Ultimately, Bach’s ambition is for her work to inspire open conversation and serve as a call to action: “It is a story of hope because I think we need hope to be the motivator and not fear.”
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