Pippi Longstocking, cheeky, headstrong and funny this is how most of us know Inger Nilsson, the Swedish actress, who played one of Astrid Lindgren’s most well-known fictional characters. But how does Inger’s life look like today, more than 50 years after the shooting of the first Pippi Longstocking movie? In her interview with EHLION she told us all about her current work as an actress.
Interview Part 1:
“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.” Pippi’s power of imagination knows no limits nor does her self-confidence. This is why generations of children dream about being as courageous, cheeky and free as the strongest girl in the world.
Pippi Longstocking aired for the first time in 1969 and the girl with the red braids, the wide smile and the big heart continues to enchant viewers around the world ever since. She drives the police crazy, effortlessly lifts up her horse like it was nothing and bedtime is a word Pippi has never ever heard of.
The big success of the TV series and the movies inevitably make us think about Inger Nilsson. The actress was born on the 4th of May in 1959 in Kisa, a small Swedish town, where she spent her childhood days. Inger Nilsson now lives in Stockholm and made a successful comeback with the series “The Inspector and the Sea” which airs in Germany since 2007 and is now also airing in Sweden, Austria and Switzerland.
Interview Part 2:
Inger’s relationship with her role as Pippi Longstocking
While Pippi’s imagination is limitless, the imagination of a lot of viewers is stretched to its limits when it comes to seeing more in Inger Nilsson than her playing the role of Pippi Longstocking.
Google search results show that many would type search requests such as “how old is Pippi Longstocking now or pictures of Pippi Longstocking now”. This shows that many people to this day identify Inger as “the Pippi Longstocking actress”.
The fact that people have the tendency to look at Inger as Pippi instead of seeing the person behind the role, is something that has accompanied the actress’ life. Maybe this is part of the reason that Inger is such an amazing actress, showing the world over and again that she is not Pippi Longstocking but a remarkable actress with many talents.
Throughout the last decade Inger has clearly shown that she is an actress with many facets, who can play a forensically medical expert as well as a maid or a funny role like a mother, who is a little bit crazy. One of the roles Inger is especially proud of is her role as a principal in the movie “The Here After”. The film received great reviews, was screened at the Cannes film festival in 2015 and was honored with awards such as the Guldbagge award for best film.
Apart from her sometimes challenging relationship with her role as Pippi Longstocking, Inger nevertheless remembers how exciting it was to shoot the Pippi movies. Back then there was only one TV channel in Sweden and to flicker across screens all over the country was a big thing at the time! Everyone in her family, in her town and soon in countries all over Europe, knew that she was Inger, the girl, who plays Astrid Lindgren’s famous character Pippi Longstocking.
This was exciting, yet also overwhelming at times. Over the years hundreds of journalists stood in front of her doorstep, following her every move. They wanted to go to school with her and be there when she played with her friends in the afternoons. Everything Inger did was interesting to the press and her fans. Inger even recalls that one day, a woman she didn’t know, was standing in her family’s living room looking for Inger, having entered their house without permission. “So after that we had to lock our door”, says the actress.
Interview Part 3:
The casting and filming of Pippi Longstocking
The first time Inger heard that they were looking for an actress to play Pippi Longstocking was on TV. They were sitting in the living room, when her father looked at her and said something like “well how about that? Do you want us to send a photo of you?” And before she really knew what was happening, they picked her amongst thousands of other girls to become the heroine in the book adaption of Pippi Långstrump, the name of the original Swedish version, which literally translates to Pippi Longstocking.
It might surprise you to hear that Inger never read the books written by Astrid Lindgren nor did she read the film scripts. The director, Olle Hellbom, didn’t want the kids to read the scripts. Instead he used to sit down with Inger, Pär and Maria, who play Tommy and Annika. Then Olle explained to them what would happen in the next scene and what they would have to do and say. After that, they started filming.
Inger loved acting. For the kids, the movie set felt like an adventure playground. There was always something new to discover and that is why it was not unusual that Inger was nowhere to be found, when it was time for her to be in front of the camera. She went off exploring while the adults on set were looking for her. Who can blame an eight-year-old for her curiosity?
The interior shots of Villa Villekulla and other places were filmed in a studio in Stockholm. Inger recalls how excited she was to sleep in a hotel for the very first time. But on the other hand, filming in Stockholm also meant that she was separated from her family, which wasn’t always easy.
During the filming of Pippi Longstocking Inger also met Astrid Lindgren for the very first time. Inger remembers that they were on set, when somebody called them and said ”please, please come to the studio, Astrid is here, you’re going to meet Astrid Lindgren” and when Astrid saw them, she opened her arms and said “please, come into my arms, my little film children”. Astrid visited the film set a couple of times and joined the crew in Gotland for 14 days. Most of the external shots for movies like “Pippi in the south sea” or “Pippi goes on board” were filmed on the island of Gotland.
Inger Nilsson interview: Do you want to know more about the life on set an and about what Inger Nilsson is doing today? In her interview with EHLION Inger gave us a glimpse behind the scenes of Pippi Longstocking and much more.
Pippi Longstocking – a global success
In Portuguese she is called “Pippi das Meias Altas”, in Germany they call her “Pippi Langstrumpf” which both translates to Pippi Longstocking, while in French her name is almost unrecognizable: “Fifi Brindacier”. It is quite certain that the show’s excellent dubbing contributed to the international success of the movies.
Inger told us that language also plays a very special role in the crime series “The Inspector and the Sea” where she plays Ewa Svensson a specialist in forensic medicine. The series is shot in German and Swedish. Before they start shooting, the actors have a reading in English and after that, the scene will be recorded in a mixture of Swedish and German. Inger, for example, plays her parts in Swedish and her colleague Walter Sittler answers in German. In the end the series is dubbed in German and in Swedish.
Inger’s career after the role of Pippi Longstocking
After the end of the filming of Pippi Longstocking, Inger gained experience in different acting careers over the years. For a while she also made a living as secretary in Stockholm, and gave the music industry a try in 1977 with the release of the single “Keep on Dancing”. In 2009 she took part in the Swedish version of “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”.
Her days as a child actor are in the past, but Inger made a successful comeback. Today she works as an actress for television, film and theater. When being asked, what kind of roles she plays on the theater stage, Inger smiles and says “I always play the maid. Her last production was “The House of Bernada Alba” by Lorca where she played Ponica, the maid.
One day Inger would also like to play a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays. Inger says, “at first I wanted to play Juliet from Romeo & Juliet, and then it was Rosalind, but now that I’m a little bit older I think that it has to be Lady Macbeth or something like that… so we will see”.
In addition to the theater stage, we will continue seeing Inger on screen as Ewa Svensson in crime series „ The Inspector and the Sea “. But there is more to come. Inger just completed the pilot episode for a television comedy, where she, according to herself, plays a mother who is a little bit crazy.
Like with „The Inspector and the Sea “, dubbed movies and series are an integral part of the television landscape in many European countries. When it come to international success of a movie excellent dubbing plays an important role.