Screening Monday as part of the competition pack at Canneseries, which runs Oct. 9-14, is “Top Dog.” The Stockholm-set crime thriller is produced by Sweden’s Filmlance, the team behind acclaimed series “Bron” (known in many territories as “The Bridge”), which sold to more than 180 countries.
In “Top Dog,” middle-aged crime-gang member Teddy from Södertälje, a working-class city with a large immigrant community, joins forces with young attorney Emily, who works for an up-market law firm in Stockholm, to investigate the disappearance of the eldest son of a business tycoon.
Teddy, Emily and many of the other lead characters have secrets, which complicate the solving of the mystery, with many twists and turns. Emily is in debt and about to be made homeless; Teddy has a former girlfriend who is a cop, and wants to break away from the life of crime after a lengthy spell in prison.
Josefin Asplund, who is best known for her part as Astrid on the History Channel series “Vikings” and as Pernilla Blomkvist in David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” plays Emily; Alexej Manvelov, whose credits include “Chernobyl” and “Beck,” stars as Teddy.
Veronica Zacco led the writing team behind the show, adapting from the series of novels by Jens Lapidus, the author of “Easy Money,” which was turned into a hit film.
The show is coproduced by TV4/C MORE, ZDF, and ZDF Enterprises, which is distributing the series at Mipcom.
Anna Wallmark and Teresa Alldén, who produced the show alongside Olof Spaak, spoke to Variety about the series.
What was the starting point for “Top Dog”?
Anna Wallmark: The starting point for the series was reading the exciting and successful book trilogy written by Jens Lapidus. Letting us into two totally different “underdog-worlds” – but still very similar. I found it very thrilling to follow. Teddy wanting out from his “world” and Emily struggling to get “up.”
What are the character traits that Emily and Teddy have in common?
Teresa Alldén: They’re both struggling to become someone, to gain respect and be loved.
What were you looking for in the actors who play the leads? How did you cast them?
Teresa Alldén: We were looking for a cast that could both deliver strength but also had a warm aura and a vulnerability. We cast them through an audition but they were both on our minds before the audition.
They both have a natural pace in delivering their character lines, which was essential for the authentic tone of the series.
What part do secrets play in the motivation of the characters?
Anna Wallmark: I would say it all depends on the secrets. It’s important to let puzzle pieces out for the viewers.
What was the reception for the show in Sweden?
Anna Wallmark: It’s been super positive. People seem to appreciate the multiple layers in the cast/ensemble.
Is this a series which is particularly well suited to binge-viewing and screening on a streaming device?
Teresa Alldén: Oh yes it is. We’ve created it with both plot and emotional cliffs which is especially good for binge-viewing. But it also works linear.
You have referred to this series as an “update” on Scandi Noir. Can you expand on that?
Anna Wallmark: We’ve worked hard on giving the ensemble many layers, to add a “fresh” feeling in a classic Scandi Noir crime “costume”.
Does the series give viewers a different take on Stockholm and the traditional view of Swedish society?
Teresa Alldén: Yes. I think it shows that we are not so different from each other as we think. Human behavior, wants, needs are in many ways “same same,” regardless of class, environment and so on.
How does the series exemplify the type of show you would like to produce at Filmlance?
Anna Wallmark: High production level, quality. Very cinematic flavor as well as an authentic tone, real humans that people can relate to but at the same time give them something new about the world and society that gives meaning.