How Keanu Reeves wound up on a Swedish private-eye sitcom
by Michael Starr
Peter Stormare says there’s a reason he chose “Swedish Dicks” as the nod-and-a-wink title of his new Pop comedy series — but it’s not exactly what you think.
“[The title] sounds like a rock band from Sweden but it’s legit — the word ‘dick’ was ‘detective’ in older times,” says Stormare, 63, the Swedish-born acting veteran best-known for his bad-guy roles in movies (including “Fargo” and “Constantine”) and in dozens of TV shows (including “The Blacklist,” “Longmire,” and “American Gods”). “For me it’s a love of those old Humphrey Bogart movies when he was a private dick and he’d say things like, ‘And then a dame came into the room and my future didn’t look so bright.’”
In the series, which premiered last year on Sweden’s Viaplay network, Stormare plays Ingmar Andersson, a down-on-his-luck private investigator and former stuntman forced to leave the film business after an unfortunate on-set accident. Based in a seedy LA neighborhood, Ingmar works alone — until he partners with Axel (Johan Glans), a fellow Swedish ex-pat and moderately successful DJ who decides he needs a lifestyle change (spurring Ingmar to alter the stenciling on his office door from “Swedish Dick” to “Swedish Dicks”). “I based [Ingmar] on some stunt people I know,” Stormare says. “A lot of them turn into private dicks or become bounty hunters because they all get injured by the age of 40 or 45.”
Joining the bumbling pair in their adventures are Sun (Vivian Bang), Ingmar’s office mate who may or may not be from North Korea; Ingmar’s daughter, Sarah (Felicia Cooper), a high-powered lawyer with daddy issues; and abrasive Jane McKinney (Traci Lords), the self-professed best private investigator in LA.
There’s also occasional guest star Keanu Reeves — making several extremely rare TV appearances as Ingmar’s tragic best friend, fellow stuntman Tex “Crazy Man” Johnson. “He’s maybe the only friend I’ve seen in private during my years [in LA],” Stormare says of Reeves (they met while working on (“Constantine”).
“Keanu and me are very much alike — he’s very low-key and shies away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood,” he says. “But he’s a workhorse like me; we call each other ‘hermits’ and we work out together occasionally at the gym or meet to talk. He’s one of the few people [in the business] that I can talk to. I sent him the script and he called back and said, ‘I really like this and I want to do some comedy.’ That’s a side of him that rarely gets exposed.”
Stormare says he originally envisioned “Swedish Dicks” — currently shooting Season 2 — as an hour-long drama, but changed his mind (and approach) after collaborating with his pal, producer Peter Settman, and selling the series under his Viking Brothers production umbrella. “We got some money from Viaplay and invested with my own company,” he says. “We teamed up and talked about it and thought it’s always easier to get money for a half-hour [show] format — and if it goes well we can do always do ‘Swedish Dicks: The Movie.’
“The premise was the same, but it was a bit more dark,” he says of his original idea. “Now it’s got more ‘Twin Peaks’ meets ‘Monty Python’ elements.
“The absurdity of a one-hour drama lives within this half hour.”