Aksel Hennie (48) is one of the country’s leading actors. With a CV that lists several roles in Hollywood, as well as several of the most iconic Norwegian films, one would almost think that he had nothing more to prove.
These days, however, he is hard at work preparing for a completely new type of role. Hennie will play the lead role as Jesus in the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” at Folketeateret in the autumn.
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This will be Hennie’s first musical, and the first time he will showcase his own singing voice live in front of an audience. He himself was terrified of making the big choice, at the same time that fear became decisive for him.
– I got the offer and was terrified and skeptical. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to. I’m looking forward to doing something I never thought I’d do. I’m looking forward to accomplishing something that I think seems scary, he says to Nettavisen.
Terrified and skeptical
When Nettavisen meets the popular actor at Folketeateret in Oslo, he says that the feedback has been somewhat varied.
– It seems that people believe that I will make it happen. A couple of friends and buddies who are musical artists think I’m crazy, and maybe I am. But first and foremost, people are positive, says Hennie.
Hennie will not be on stage alone. He gets help from an arsenal of artists and actors, including Highasakite vocalist Ingrid Håvik (36), musician and “The Voice” mentor Espen Lind (52) and CC Cowboys vocalist Magnus Grønneberg (56).
In contrast to the rest of the staff, Hennie is almost the only one who does not have a singing career to show for it. He has thus had to go hard with his preparations.
– I’ve had to start working with singing, and that’s what I’m doing. So I go to a singing teacher, and practice the songs, I also try to get into that guy, who is Jesus, he says and continues:
– You probably know most about him, but I want to make that journey just as personal, just as clear and serious and serious and thorough, as I do in all other jobs I undertake.
New chapter in the career
Hennie lives a seemingly secluded life to be one of the country’s most famous actors. He rarely gives interviews, and is tight-lipped about everything other than his career if he has to speak.
The reason for this, he has previously stated, is primarily that he wants to have a fulfilling family life. He does not need his children to understand that he is among the country’s leading actors, and that people are interested in what he does.
But when it comes to the profession of an actor, he is very clear that it is something he takes very seriously.
– This is something completely different, isn’t it. I’m not used to being on stage and singing and expressing myself that way. It’s a completely new genre, it’s a completely new chapter in my career, and I don’t take that lightly, he says to Nettavisen and continues:
– I will do everything I can so that people sitting there at the premiere, and all the performances beyond, will feel that it is worth it.
Singing at home
In the past year, Hennie has spent a lot of time rehearsing for the upcoming role, and says that, among other things, he has sat for several hours at home in front of the grand piano and sang Kings of Leon songs to himself with a glass of red wine.
Read also: Aksel Hennie opens up about intimate details: – Wasn’t mature enough
If you had asked Hennie a year ago if he would ever show off what he does at home in the living room, the answer would have been no. Now, however, he will sing at the top of his lungs in 19 performances.
– I never thought that I would use my singing voice externally. It has been something that has only been mine. But then I think that if people see the value, and I think it’s as crazy fun as I think it is, then I just have to share, he says.
According to the actor, there will also be more singing at home now, which he believes the family will pass on.
– I expect that there will probably be a lot of singing at home now. Fortunately, I have a family that likes me to sing. If not, I would have had a problem, he laughs.
A big miss
With major international films such as “The Martian” and “Hercules”, Hennie has had to spend a lot of time away from his family and his homeland.
Now the 48-year-old has had enough, at least for a certain period, and consciously wants to take more jobs in Norway.
– I have missed direct contact with my audience. I have missed Norway a little, I have been abroad a lot. So I have missed being in contact with my Norwegian audience, which I love and care about very much.
– So standing at the Folketeateret and being with that audience, which means an enormous amount to me, is something I seek and which I am very happy that I now get to do again, he notes.
Although he works more in Norway, it does not always mean that he gets as much time at home with his family.
– My inner work, the work with the role and such, is quite similar. But it’s different compared to film, which is often a day job, where you have, for example, time off at weekends, which you don’t have in theatre.
– So it’s just another life, a theater life, but I’m used to that.
Struck by disaster
As mentioned, Hennie has fulfilled the role of Peer Gynt several times in the popular performance of the same name at Gålå in Gudbrandsdalen.
However, the summer of 2023 was the last summer the 48-year-old would fill the role, which he had been looking forward to very much.
Unfortunately, the last performances were affected by the extreme weather Hans, which put an end to several around the country towards the end of the summer. This also applied to “Peer Gynt”.
Hennie pauses briefly and his eyes turn serious when the question of Peer Gynt comes up.
– Oh, I know that when I get that question, I get really upset, he says.
Also read: Cancels all “Peer Gynt” performances: First time in 35 years
Hennie does not hide that it was painful not to be able to carry out the project.
– I’m incredibly sorry that we didn’t get to play the last shows. And not least for the people who had been looking forward to coming and seeing, Hennie clarifies.
Nevertheless, he has a temporary solution that he hopes the affected audiences will make use of:
– They can come and see “Jesus Christ Superstar” instead, and I’ll make it right, he concludes with a twinkle in his eye.