How true is 22 July?
[Image: Netflix]

22 July actor Anders Danielsen Lie, who portrays Anders Breivik, the murderer of 77 people on that tragic and horrific day in Norway back in 2011, has opened up about making the film as truthful as possible, insisting that it was the most important aspect of production. 

“It is always a challenge to balance this huge amount of information from research with the dramatic limitations of a 2 hour feature film. It is a very complex story and impossible to tell all of it in one film," Lie recently told me over the phone.

“But generally I think this is a very truthful film. I can speak for my own character and say this is a pretty accurate depiction of what this persons like."

"Of course I probably don’t look like him and we’ve had to fictionalize at some level because of the language difference.”


“But I have spoken to the forensic psychiatrists and interrogators that spent a lot of hours with him and they were very happy with the result. For me that is the best feedback I can get.”

One of the most traumatic scenes to watch unfold in "22 July" is when Breivik hunts down, shoots and kills 69 people on Utoya Island, most of whom were teenagers.

As you’d expect, Lie found those moments particularly difficult to recreate, which is exactly why he wanted to make sure they were as authentic as possible, while he also explained how and why he had to overcome these feelings in order to do the film justice. 

“It was very hard to shoot those scenes. But I was trying to approach them in a very professional and technical fashion.”

“I tried to make sure that whatever we did was more or less as it happened in real life. Sometimes you have to make choices and deviate from real events. Whenever we did that I wanted to know that there was a good reason for it.”

“I am playing a character that is extremely emotionally disconnected and detached from what he has done. Everyone I have talked to that has described being with him that day they say that he was calm and didn’t show any signs of emotion. I was able to use that.”

“That was exactly how I had to play it. My own emotions were completely useless. The most important thing I could do was to try to make a portrait that was as truthful as possible. Personally that became a defense mechanism shooting those scenes.”

Lie also heaped praise on director Paul Greengrass, insisting that the filmmaker was the perfect collaborator to help get through the trickier moments of production. 

“For me as an actor he is a very easy and nice director to work with. He really trusts you. When he casts you you get a lot of responsibility and a lot of freedom. That works very well for me.”

“But he is also the kind of director who gives you good advice. You always feel safe working with him. I think we ended up playing the scenes as they were written.”

“But he is also open for improvisation if you need to refresh a scene or make it more spontaneous or if there is something wrong with the words. He is open to ideas.”

“It felt like a very productive and fruitful collaboration. He is a very fun director to work with. He is a very confident director, he knows exactly where to put his camera. When a director knows that you always feel safe as an actor.”

“22 July” is now available on Netflix. 

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