Recently, I watched the beautiful and heartbreaking historical drama, The Affair. I love films about forbidden love, and this one is just stunning in its beauty. From the breathtaking scenery to the colorful clothes to the sorrowful story, The Affair reminds us that queer love, especially then, was difficult to embrace, and many had to love in secret while living a double life. Last week, I chatted with Claes Bang who stars as Viktor, and we talked about what made him want to be in the film, his favorite architect, what’s up next, and of course, horror movies.
PopHorror: Hi Claes! The Affair was such a beautiful and heartbreaking film. I really loved it.
Claes Bang: Thank you!
PopHorror: What made you want to be a part of this project?
Claes Bang: It was partly the cast and people I really wanted to work with. I thought the story was really, really good, especially the whole story of these two women trying to sort of see if there was room for their love during these years, because even today, with lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender… But back then, it was even more difficult for these people to find. So I thought that was a very interesting thing, and to be the framework of that was cool.
And then I was very interested to work in that house because I’m a big fan of that architect, Mies van der Rohe, that built that house. And I have to say, it was such an honor to be allowed to go there and work. I remember visiting the Spanish pavilion he built in Barcelona for the world exhibition in 1929, and it’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in, so when I found out that there’s actually a house you could live in that was a version of this place, I was very interested to do that. So different things attracted me to this.
PopHorror: That house was stunning! I’ve never seen anything like it.
Claes Bang: I remember showing people photos of that house when I was shooting there, and I would always ask them, “So when do you think this was built?” And they would always say, “Well, that looks quite new. That looks quite modern. It was probably built two years ago, five years ago.” And then I said to them, “It’s probably almost 100 years old.” And they would always be like, “Wow!” It is crazy.
PopHorror: It’s ahead of its time, that is for sure.
Claes Bang: He’s been an inspiration. That architect has been an inspiration for… I mean you can just see it. If you start looking in everything that’s been built since, that sort of very clean, the very straight fine lines, all of that. It’s really cool.
PopHorror: Oh, absolutely! Was there anything that you were adamant about bringing to your character?
Claes Bang: No, I thought it was actually sort of… In that sense, it’s sort of quite supporting in the fact that I am the backdrop to their story, so it’s really about doing what I could to provide everything that was needed for their story. I thought it was pretty there in the script, so I stuck with what was there.
PopHorror: The attention to detail is just astounding. I was very impressed with the costumes and the scenery and the storyline. How did you prepare for your role?
Claes Bang: I was actually, at the same time, I came off a World War II movie, so that sort of set me up for it in a way. And then as you just said, the attention to detail costume-wise and set-wise… It’s a little bit like when you were a kid and playing whatever you were playing, role playing, and all of a sudden someone said, “Okay, you can come and do it in this setting and everything is there for you.” So you’re dressed in these amazing clothes and you look like 1928 and everything is really something that’s provided for you as an actor. And it just opens up a big space for you where all that is actually already there in the costumes and in the set decoration and everything so you as an actor can actually go and really put another nuance to it, because that is already there.
PopHorror: You have quite an impressive resume. What’s one piece of advice that you wish someone had given to you when you were first starting?
Claes Bang: Oh, wow! I don’t know. Ah fuck, that’s always so hard. I think one thing that someone said to me is if you could go back 10 years in time and ask yourself back then to look at what’s going on right now, do you think you would be happy with it?
PopHorror: That’s great.
Claes Bang: Any time I’ve tried to do that, I’ve always found that “Oh my God, is that where we are? That’s amazing!” I’m very happy with that. I don’t know. One piece of advice… try to have fun.
PopHorror: If you’re not having fun, why bother?
Claes Bang: Exactly!
PopHorror: What’s up next for you?
Claes Bang: I have just finished a film called The Northman, Robert Eggers’ next movie, who did The Witch and The Lighthouse. We managed to shoot that during Covid this fall, so that’s the next thing that’s going to come out. In terms of projects that I am going to do, I have to wait and say something. It’s also a Covid thing because right now I am so hoping they will happen, but with all the tricks and little shit things that this virus has up its sleeve… I’m just super scared, so I don’t want to jinx it. I have two projects lined up that will take me through the year, and I so hope they will happen, because that looks really, really good. But obviously, we have to see if Covid allows us to do them. Right now, it’s not looking at if they’re not, but you never know.
PopHorror: Fingers crossed! One last question for you, Claes. What is your favorite scary movie?
Claes Bang: I would probably say The Shining. But also, and this might be an odd one, it is also scary, but it’s more harrowing. It’s a movie by an Austrian filmmaker called Michael Haneke. Are you familiar with his work?
PopHorror: Funny Games!
Claes Bang: That’s the one!
Thank you so much, Claes, for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to catch The Affair on VOD starting March 5, or through the Apple pre-sale HERE.