Claes Bang Closes Venice - But is Far From Done

by Tina Jøhnk Christensen August 29, 2019
Danish actor Cales Bang

neilson barnard/getty images

Claes Bang made his breakthrough in the Golden Globe-nominated The Square and since then the 52-year old Dane has been on a roll. Currently, he is in Venice representing Italian filmmaker Guiseppe Capotondi’s The Burnt Orange Heresy, which will be closing the film festival on September 7. But Claes Bang is far from done. He is going on to Telluride and Toronto, where he will also represent Dan Friedkin’s Lyrebird – and he is to be seen in two TV shows:  The Affair and Dracula.

Your film is closing the Venice film festival. What does this honor mean to the team behind Guiseppe Capotondi’s film?

It is my first time at the Venice film festival. It is really cool to be accepted into these festivals as it is a celebration of films and film making and one of the things I really loved about being at Cannes with The Square was that they screen your film several times a day and when you walk around the town you meet people constantly who just saw your film and tells you how much they liked it.  It is an honor to close the festival, but just to get the film shown there is cool in itself. There are so many films that would like to be featured at the festival, so you would like to think that they have seen something they really liked and that this is their reason for choosing our film. It is an honor and hopefully also an indication that we did something right.

You play an art critic in The Burnt Orange Heresy and Mick Jagger plays a powerful art dealer. How do your characters interact in this film?

It is almost like a Faustian thing where he gives me an offer I cannot resist. Like Faust was given an offer by the devil of eternal life and then he fucks everything up. And this is a similar thing where he has got something on me and thus he can play me any way he wants to. There is something he needs me to do for him and in return for that, he will do something for me but obviously, that goes to hell. It does not end well, I will say that.

You played an art curator in The Square. Are the roles similar?

The funny thing is that this art critic in The Burnt Orange Heresy could sort of be a continuous story of my character from The Square. It could be what happened to him afterward. He probably left Stockholm. It is not entirely true, but it is sort of the same environment.

Do you have a special relationship with the art world, or is it a coincidence that you return to the art environment?

It is a coincidence that this has happened. I am a big art fan and I love going to museums, but I have not pursued films that were set in the art world. The film that is going to Telluride and Toronto – Lyrebird - is also about the art world. That film is about the art scandal in Holland in 1945.

A scene from "The Burnt Orange Heresy", 2019

With Elizabeth Debicki in a scene from The Burnt Orange Heresy.

jose haro


Mick Jagger is a rock legend, what is it like doing scenes with him in The Burnt Orange Heresy?

I was literally afraid that I would faint when I met him. He is such a human legend. I don’t know how many there are in the world. He is a living legend. All of a sudden, he was there, and we said hello and were immediately talking about some of the scenes and what we wanted to do with them. It was really easy. He was really cool. He is the coolest person. He is sweet and lovely and nice, and he is very humble about acting. He is out of his comfort zone doing films because this is not what he normally does but he was just so humble and took everybody’s advice. He just wanted to do his best to make it as good as possible. I thought he was everything you would dream him to be.

As you mentioned, you are going to the film festival in Toronto with Lyrebird too. What is your role in this film?

I work for the government that comes in after the Dutch government returns. I work for them and my job is to try to find out what happened to all the artwork – the national treasure – that was sold doing the Nazi rule. I am in particular looking for a Vermeer painting that was sold to Hermann Göring who was the second in command to the Nazis.

You are quite busy at the time being. You also appear in two TV-series, The Affair and Dracula. What was it like to become part of the cast of The Affair, which is in its fifth season?

It was totally amazing. I was a huge fan of the show before I came on and it was on my top three shows to be on. I was blown away that they asked me. It was amazing being on a show that you have actually watched and then all of a sudden you are on the locations that you have watched so many times. When I walked into Maura Tierney’s house the first time, I was blown away and thought: What is this? But I stepped into a really well-greased machine. They have been doing it for a long time and really know what they are doing. I was obviously really nervous in the beginning because I thought: Have they got the right guy? The first couple of days, I was really keen to show them that they were right in choosing me but it went quite well. I felt very welcome and I know Dominic a little from The Square. I did not know Maura. But it was really cool and amazing.

And you play Dracula in the new BBC and Netflix series Dracula. What is new with this old character?

I cannot tell you, because I cannot give it away at this point. There are so many cool features and so many things that have been rethought in the most brilliant way. It is just totally reenergized the whole thing.