Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist takes on Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" -- a villainous role that he, complete with his silky European accent, pulls off with ease.
In reality, the 51-year-old actor is anything but villainous. He's thoughtful and charming, and talked with The Huffington Post about tackling "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol," playing the original Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and about his memoir, "Just After Dreaming," which details his search for his biological parents.
"Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" is your first big Hollywood movie. What was the biggest difference between this and the European movies you have made?
The difference is there are so many people working on it. We went to Prague, Dubai and then Vancouver, and it felt like not just a block but a whole city that came in with the production.
Did you have someone lifting up the coffee cup to your lips?
You play the villain in the film. You've got the right accent -- very debonair and sophisticated.
When you hear it, you know there's going to be trouble.
You played Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Were you upset that you weren't in the Hollywood version?
No, I worked on the three films for almost four years, so I was done. My daughter is in the American version. She was an extra. She poured coffee for Daniel Craig and when she poured it out she said, "Do you know who my dad is? He's Michael Nyqvist." He said, "What?!" I met the guys when they were shooting in Stockholm, so I told Daniel, "Let's switch. I'll take James Bond for a couple of films."
So not even a little twinge of jealousy?
No, not at all. I'm curious to see what they did. If Daniel had done perhaps another movie that I had been in, I could feel a little bit upset, but the thing is, I just like his acting.
You were in an orphanage as a baby, which you mention in your book "Just After Dreaming." Have you read any studies about the effects of institutionalization on children?
It actually got me upset reading about adopted children. They become junkies or criminals or actors. I wanted to write a book from the children's point of view. I think the whole mission of being here on Earth is to accept what you have, and my journey was to accept my own life and not pretend anything else. I think that's what we all struggle with.
You eventually connected with your biological parents at age 30.
Yes, it was very hard to find them. My father's Italian. I have a brother and sister now. The whole family's so big; it's been a happy journey for me.
Many Swedish crime writers are getting global recognition these days. What is it about Swedes and crime stories?
What Stieg Larsson was up to -- it was the Swedish guilt over World War II. All of our neighbors had the most terrible experiences with the bad forces, but Sweden didn't. I think we use the thrillers in a different way. We never write a thriller like "Who is the murderer?" The big question in most of our thrillers is ... "Why?"
How do you celebrate Christmas?
I go out on an island on an archipelago on the Baltic Sea with family, friends, dog, everything. Of course, we have herring and ham. If you eat that you have to have akvavit [liquor]. We also eat turkey; we're a transatlantic family.
Do you have herring in a lot of different ways?
Not too many. Just 20 or 25 ways.