How did Anders Danielsen Lie become Anders Breivik for ’22 July’? Here’s what the actor told us

Anders Danielsen Lie was always aware of the preparation and the mental toil that playing Anders Breivik, the mass murderer who killed 77 people across Oslo, Norway, on 22 July, 2011, would require.

 So much so that Lie recently admitted to me that it took him a few weeks to actually agree to the part.

“It was a huge responsibility. I had to be absolute certain that I could create a character that was believable.  I would never have done it if I didn’t feel like I could do it. “

“I knew that it was going to be a huge research job. It took me a while to reflect on how this could effect me. If I was capable of making a truthful and responsible portrait, and that was the most important thing.”

Lie ultimately signed up, citing the Oscar nominated talents of writer and director Paul Greengrass as the main reason.

 But at that point he had to then do a deep dive into the dark and murderous mind of Breivik, who is currently in prison in Norway for his heinous crimes, during which time his biggest take away was just how “frighteningly normal” he was.

“He is a slightly idiosyncratic character. A lot of that is in his way of talking and the words that he uses. I couldn’t actually use that because we were shooting in English and a lot of it was Norwegian idiomatic. So it was hard to use that.”

“He is an awkward person in many, many ways. But he is also frighteningly normal in many other respects. When you watch him in an interrogation that is perhaps the most striking feature. That he comes across as fairly normal.”

“It is actually quite disturbing to watch a person, when you know what he has done, and

he is so ordinary and normal. It is very disturbing.”

“I was trying to analyze my reaction to that. Because I think we have a tendency to mystify evil people. We want them to be monsters. We don’t want them to be human beings. We don’t want to be apart of us. I think that is what was going on psychologically.”

“So it was important to me not to portray him as a monster. I really wanted to show that he was also a human being, and a quite normal human being in many aspects.”

“But in that sense he also has psychology traits that deeply pathological. He has a total lack of compassion and emotional empathy for the victims. He also has narcissistic traits. So he is not completely normal. But in many ways he is.”

Ultimately, Lie watched most of the nearly 200 hours worth of interrogation footage between Breivik and the police after the events, all of which helped to form and build the character.

“I found out that he is quite emotionally detached. There was not much anger. Not much sadness. He can be joking sometimes, but there was no strong emotions.”

“That was an important thing to use. For some scenes in this movie there was an equivalent, for example there was an interrogation or a transcript of an interrogation that I could use as a basis.”

“For many other scenes I didn’t have an equivalent. So then I had to extrapolate everything I knew from the other situations and imagine how the scene would have played out.”

“22 July” is released on Netflix on October 10.