European Shooting Stars: Esben Smed

The European Shooting Stars initiative, organised by European Film Promotion, is one of the most exciting parts of the Berlin Film Festival presenting Europe’s next big film stars. Previous winners have boasted alumni such as Daniel Brühl, Carey Mulligan and Alicia Vikander, who later went on to receive Hollywood recognition. Over the next couple of days, Sleek Magazine is teaming up with Audi to put a spotlight on five of this year’s final winners. Next up: Esben Smed.

Esben Smed
T-shirt by Drykorn, Trousers by Goetze

A graduate from The Danish National School of Performing Arts, Esben Smed is best known for his supporting role in TV series Follow the Money, for which he won The Robert Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Television Role. This is one of the highest domestic achievements from his native Denmark.

His film credits include the football comedy Summer Of ’92 and Nils Malmros’ dramas Aching Hearts and Sorrow and Joy. He will soon star in the lead role for Danish-German co-production Letters for Anima. His acting ability is characterised by his enthusiasm and boundless energy.

We sat down with the actor to talk about what it means to be a recipient, what he enjoys about acting and who he’d like to work with next.

Previous winners of the shooting stars award include Rachel Weisz, Daniel Bruhl and Carey Mulligan. What does it mean for you to be a recipient?
It’s great company to be amongst. It’s an honour and a privilege. I walk around feeling honoured. When I have five minutes to myself, I stand there and think: “This is pretty awesome.”

You have had a film at Berlinale before. What do you think of the festival?
I really really like Berlinale. I’ve been to a lot of festivals because my girlfriend is a distributor. We have been to most of them. So I have been here a lot of times, and I really love it. Different festivals have different cool things about them. Gothenburg is cosy, and Cannes — the first three days are sexy and “wow” and then it becomes too much. But Berlinale is a place I really enjoy being all the time.

Have you always wanted to be an actor?
For most of my adult life, I think. I’ve always been circling around it.

Esben Smed
Esben Smed

What is your favourite thing about being an actor and being on set?
Actually my favourite thing is before being on set because it’s when the research happens. The best part is when I read a script and there’s something I don’t understand and you have to figure out how this character would do it. And when you’re on set and it’s fun, and it’s good people, then it’s just amazing to be there.

You’ve worked in both film and television. Do you think there’s a different process?
Yeah it is. It’s the same kind of thing but in television there is not as much time to create the good details as in a movie.

You starred in a film about footballers. Did you prepare for the role by learning how to play football?
I can’t play football at all. I really suck at football. So I had to buy some football shoes and start practicing all summer to get it in the legs. And the character I was playing, he’s right-footed and I’m left-footed so I had to train my leg to be able to do these things.

Did Niklas Bendtner watch the film?
Actually I don’t know if he watched it. But his girlfriend was in it and played my girlfriend so that was kind of funny. And she told me what professional footballers were like.

Do you have any dream director you’d would like to work with?
There are many directors I’d really love to work with, both foreign and domestic I think. One of them is PTA, I would love to work with that guy. Of course, Scorsese. I would love to work with Wes Anderson. Also, Michel Haneke, that would be great. And the greek guy, Yorgos Lanthimos — he’s amazing.


Photography by Stefan Dotter

Photographer’s Assistant: Lucas Christiansen

Styling by Rachael Rodgers

Makeup by Nora Belovai

Hair by Noriko Takayama


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