Profile: Baltasar Kormákur, director of The Deep

Profile : Baltasar Kormákur

Icelandic director on working between Iceland and Hollywood, casting for 2 Guns and the links between his motherland and Scotland

1966, Reykjavik, Iceland


An established theatre director, Kormákur’s international reputation began with early film hits 101 Reykjavik and Jar City. He successfully remade Oskar Jónasson's Reykjavik Rotterdam as seafaring feature Contraband starring Mark Wahlberg.

What’s he up to now? 

Kormákur mixes success at home with big Hollywood movies. A second collaboration with Wahlberg, 2 Guns, pits the actor alongside Denzel Washington with the pair playing bank robbers who each discover that their partner is an undercover cop. His latest homegrown film is The Deep, a true story of a man who survived a lifeboat disaster.

On making the leap from Iceland to Hollywood and back
‘I don’t want to tell stories which are so local they have no appeal or heart. A film like Fargo works because it’s specific, so my approach is to find what is real, authentic. The appeal of Paris is in Amélie, but the reality is La Haine. I think The Deep’s story has real local but also universal appeal.’

On the casting for 2 Guns
2 Guns was developed for Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, and Mark Wahlberg brought it to me because of our previous work together, and I said he should play the other role, get Denzel in, and make him funny rather than cast a comedy actor; I wanted Butch and Sundance rather than Rush Hour or Bad Boys, two alpha males together.’

On the shift from studio-based filmmaking in Hollywood
‘To me, there is no Hollywood anymore; they are more like a big shop -- if you can persuade them to sell your product, then you have a good relationship. Nothing gets made in LA anymore; I hardly ever go there.’

On the links between Iceland and Scotland

‘Scots are like Icelanders, we are both underdogs. I think that there is a good understanding. Iceland has had good success in film and music recently, we are not burdened by history; if someone wants to do something they should just go and do it.’

The Deep is on release from Fri 12 Jul; 2 Guns from Fri 16 Aug.


The Deep Official Trailer

The Deep (Djúpiđ)

  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • Iceland
  • 1h 35min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
  • Cast: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jóhann G Jóhannsson, Þorbjörg Helga Þorgilsdóttir
  • UK release: 12 July 2013

True story about a fisherman who tries to stay alive after his boat capsizes in freezing Icelandic waters.

2 Guns

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • UK
  • 1h 49min
  • Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
  • Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Denzel Washington
  • UK release: 16 August 2013

The guns belong to Washington and Wahlberg, a DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence Officer duped into investigating each other by the mob.