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March 29, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
Besides being one of the most well-known actors in Finland for starring in the most popular TV series in the nation’s history and several major box office hits, Jasper Pääkkönen is, first and foremost, a fly fisherman.
“I would say that being a fly fisherman defines me as a person more than anything else,” says Pääkkönen, who plays a violently racist Neo-Nazi, Harri, in “Heart of a Lion.”
“I travel the world with my fly rod. Last year I did Key West, Iceland, Northern Russia, Norway, Denmark etc. This year I'm doing most of the same trips, but I'm also going to Greenland and Alaska.”
He is also a brand ambassador for Vision, one of the largest fly fishing manufacturers in Europe. His passion for the sport has inspired him to take further action to protect it for years to come.
“I am highly involved in the fishing politics in Finland. My mission is to secure healthy and sustainable fisheries as well as bring down dams that block the salmon's spawning routes.”
When he wasn’t casting a line, Pääkkönen was preparing for his controversial role. “I have always tried selecting the more interesting parts, never the conventional ‘first crush’ or the ‘common man,’” he says. “I am an easy going fly fisherman myself, so casting myself ‘against the type’ with edgy, broken characters have always intrigued me.”
Giving life to any role requires a full commitment to the character being portrayed, regardless of how evil or menacing. The character, Harri, has a vulnerability that he overwhelmingly masks with outward hatred. Much of this is due, according to Pääkkönen, to his fear of losing the one person in his life that provides love and security: his big brother.
“An actor HAS to stand by, and trust his character, and have no doubts about what the character believes in,” Pääkkönen comments. “I am a very peace loving person and I have always had close friends from all races and colors. Needless to say, that creates quite a conflict with playing someone this devastatingly prejudiced and racist.”
What may seem like daunting subject matter, audiences of the film should prepare themselves for a deeper message. Pääkkönen says, “Heart is mainly a film about love and the fear of losing it. The love between a stepdad and his stepson, love between two brothers, love between friends, and what losing the love causes in one.”
— Amy Kersey
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FILM UPDATE: We are thrilled to announce the broadcast premiere of ESPN 30 for 30's BELIEVELAND was so popular that ABC picked it up and will air it this Saturday, May 28th at 3:30 p.m. EST!
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