Profile: Magnus Martens, director of Jackpot

Profile: Magnus Martens, director of Jackpot

The Norwegian director on the comedy and violence in his Jo Nesbo adaptation

Born 1973, Stord, Norway

Oslo-based writer and director Martens has worked in film and television for over a decade, notably on 2003’s football–based United. He was writing his own crime comedy screenplay when he was offered the chance to create a script based on a story by the internationally popular crime-writer Jo Nesbo, whose Headhunters was a big hit earlier this year. Wisely, Martens changed his plans, and adapted Nesbo’s story of tough criminals falling out over a pools win.

On whether Jackpot is an action film or a comedy
‘A comedy, there was more action in the original script but we didn’t have the money to do it well. When we test screened, people still thought it was an action comedy, like Snatch or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. But it’s not an action comedy like a Renny Harlin action comedy, much as I like Renny Harlin!’

On the key to setting the tone for a black comedy
‘Casting is very important, with Henrik Mestad I’d worked with him before, he’s a very serious actor who does a lot of preparation, working with real detectives. His shoes were really important to him, the ring he wore, the texture of his jacket. He downplays and does it straight. In fact, none of the actors I used are known as comedians, they’re serious actors who just never had the chance to play comedy before.’ 

On the violence and gore in the film
‘Obviously, it’s too extreme for some people, it’s laughably over-the-top. In Tribeca in New York, they loved it, but were shocked by how far we went with the violence. The criminals in the film are not the kind who would use guns, they have everyday tools, it’s more shovels, pick-axes, nail-guns and anything you have in the house.’

On future plans
‘It’s another dark comedy, which again, I hope to make in Norway, although I’ve had interest from the US. And there’s talk of an American remake of Jackpot, but I don’t want to have anything to do with that, I’ve done that now.’

Jackpot is on selected released from Fri 10 Aug.

Jackpot: Trailer

Jackpot (Arme Riddere)

  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • Norway
  • 1h 25min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Magnus Martens
  • Cast: Kyrre Hellum, Henrik Mestad, Marie Blokhus, Mads Ousdal, Andreas Cappelen, Arthur Berning, Lena Kristin Ellingsen, Jan Grønli, Fridtjov Såheim, Peter Andersson

Black comedy in which a syndicate of workers at a Norwegian artificial Christmas tree factory win big on the pools leading to friendships breaking down and violent characters surface. Not a game-changer, but still a sprightly low-budget film that will appeal to fans of the Nordic crime genre.

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