Michael Nyqvist, 50, the Swedish actor who became world famous after portraying the Blomqvist character in the Millennium Trilogy movies (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest), is spending some time in Vancouver while shooting scenes for the next "Mission Impossible" movie with Tom Cruise.
I have followed Michael's movie career over the years in Sweden, and when I heard he was in Vancouver, I contacted his agents and inquired if it was possible to meet him for an interview. I wanted to hear Michael's impressions of Vancouver, to hear him talk about his vast career and to find out if he really is such a nice and down to earth guy as he is in the movies. However, the agents were not sure if he would have the time to meet with me due to his busy schedule.
So, when I received a casual email from Michael himself one morning I was both stunned and surprised. The email said: "I hear you want to interview me. I'm in town so give me a call." I dialed his number with a bit of hesitation and introduced myself.
"Hey, sorry I'm mumbling a bit. I'm eating sausage," he said. I bursted out laughing.
"How typically Swedish," I replied, and we both laughed. We Swedes love sausage and liquorice.
"So, you want to meet me for an interview?" he asked, straight to the point.
We agreed to meet the next day for dinner. He asked me to pick him up in the lobby of the hotel he was staying at and to "take him somewhere."
But where do you take a movie star for dinner? And what do you wear? These were the questions I only had time to ponder for a day. I received a lot of suggestions from friends. But as usual, I ignored all the advice, and decided to play it by ear.
From our casual phone conversation, I could tell that Michael is not the kind of guy who expects to be wined and dined at the fanciest restaurants in town.
As I was waiting for Michael in the lobby of the fancy hotel he was staying at, I chatted with the concierge and asked him if he knew that Michael was a major movie star and absolutely everyone knows who he is in Scandinavia. After his performance in the Millennium Trilogy movies, he has become a household name all over the world.
The concierge smiled politely and told me that Michael is one of the most down to earth actors who has ever stayed at the hotel and that it's been a pleasure getting to know him.
I turned around to see Michael step out of the elevator. He looked a bit tired. His dark hair was tousled and he was dressed in all green. He was wearing big brown hiking boots and army pants with a matching long jacket with fake fur around the collar.
He was so much taller and muscular than I had expected. He exuded confidence, tranquility and a certain star quality.
"How nice to meet you, Michael," I said, and we shook hands the way we always do in Sweden when meeting a stranger. I must have looked him up and down, because he said with a smile: "I wasn't supposed to dress up in a suit, was I? You're not taking me anywhere fancy, I hope?"
I laughed and assured him we would go somewhere casual. "Good, I prefer casual," he said, as we left the hotel and walked towards Robson street.
I decided to take him to Earls on Top. I remember when I first moved to Canada years ago, and how much I enjoyed going to big chain restaurants, as I was not used to that from back home. His first remark when we came inside was that it seemed like a nice restaurant, and he asked the waitress for a quiet table with a view over Robson street.
We ordered a couple of beers and studied the menus. He seemed a bit lost with all the choices and when I told him I was going to have chicken quesadillas, he quickly ordered the same thing.
"What are these? Swedish pancakes?" he said with a laugh when we got our plates. After his first bite, he announced that it was "absolutely delicious." For some reason, I had expected him to order steak and lobster, and perhaps champagne. Instead, he was perfectly happy with a pint of Stella Artois beer, quesadillas and a green salad. I really liked his style.
The waitress and the manager kept coming up to our table throughout the meal, asking if everything was okay. They were pleased to hear Michael answer each time that the food was just delicious. I wondered if they recognized him, and I asked Michael if he usually gets approached in Vancouver.