Talented and handsome, Peter Franzén is one of the best actors of his generation in Finland. Born in Lapland, and educated at the Theatre Academy in Helsinki, he has acted in more than 20 movies, sometimes as a co-star, sometimes in leading roles. One year, he even appeared in three movies at the same time. Franzén is also said to be the sexiest man in Finnish cinema.

One happy day, Franzén won the American Green Card Lottery. Being no fool, the young man decided to invest in his career in the land of opportunities with his wife, actress Irina Björklund. They decided to live part of the year in Finland, part in the U.S., but it’s still only in Finland that Franzén wins Academy Awards, also known as Jussis.

I won’t lie, I’m no expert in Peter Franzén, but I’ve seen a couple of his films. I first saw him bare-chested in Bad Boys – gorgeous. Dangerously charming in Lovers & Leavers. Charismatic in Dog Nails’ Clipper, for which he received the Finnish Film Academy Award for best leading role. Then one day, I turned on the TV and, as usually is the case, there was nothing good to watch. Tired of zapping, I decided to give MTV3 a chance. It was showing some American crime series, one of the thousands they’ve been trying to make us watch lately. Some cliché script that I’ve seen before somewhere, lousy direction, too much acting. I laughed out loud at the protagonist’s pretentious way of talking, so my husband came to see what was going on. Then a maximum 10 seconds long scene that made us stop laughing immediately: a fight in the dark, a face appears for 3 seconds, Franzén’s, and right after that, his character was dead. An agent holds the picture of the dead character: Ivan the Hungarian, a man who traveled to the USA to save his beloved girlfriend from sexual slavery. I did say it was cliché.

What in the world was Peter Franzén doing in that crappy TV program? Why would one of the best contemporary Finnish actors allow himself to be subjugated like that? So much dedication and investment in his career to be a dead Hungarian? When he was clearly a far better actor than anyone in the cast of CSI: Miami?

Franzén is trying to pursue his international career, and he’s right to do so. He was born with Finnish sisu! As he once said, he can’t lay on the sofa waiting for things to happen. He’s working hard, doing what it takes to succeed, and that includes taking small roles. But I wonder. He speaks English, and he certainly performs well. But is it fair to prefer a local actor to him, just because the other is a local? Or will somebody blame him for taking the job that some North American could do? The author is a Brazilian-born journalist living in Helsinki

Juliana Elo


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