“We really clicked,” says Thekla Reuten of her on-set relationship with James Nesbitt. “He’s so generous, funny, and easy to work with. I was so lucky.”
A funny choice of words from the Dutch actress, as she is about to take on a starring role, alongside Nesbitt, in the second series of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, a Marvel property written specially for the small screen. Reuten is taking over leading lady duties from series one’s Sienna Guillory – and she promises that this second outing will be just as wild a ride as the first.
“Every episode is full of tension,” Reuten explains. “Sometimes my world feeds in with James’ cases, and at other times I’m a very destructive and distracting presence in his life. But it was fantastic playing such a mysterious character, and it was fantastic working with such a down to earth person as James.”
Reuten, although reasonably new to UK screens – unless you caught her in the BBC’s acclaimed spy drama Hidden several years ago – has been a permanent presence in her native Netherlands since she burst onto the scene in 2002’s Twin Sisters – an Oscar-nominated drama that first put the actress in touch with the English-speaking world.
“I didn’t purposefully pursue acting in other languages,” says Reuten, “it just felt very logical to me. My mother was Italian so it was natural speaking in other languages – I can speak five. So, from there I went on to work in productions around the world.”
From 2008’s In Bruges, in which Reuten acted alongside Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes, to 2010’s The American, where Reuten and George Clooney played assassins, the Dutch actress has had quite the career. But she has always stayed close to home and – interestingly – has taken over voice roles of some of the world’s most famous actresses in their Dutch language dubs.
"My mother was Italian so it was natural speaking in other languages - I can speak five"
From Angelina Jolie to Renée Zellweger, Reuten has stepped into the shoes of some big stars – most recently voicing Cate Blanchett’s role in children’s film How to Train Your Dragon 2.
“They’re really interesting roles to take,” says Reuten. “Cate’s such a phenomenal actress who I’ve always admired, but you don’t want to simply copy someone – that doesn’t make any sense. You have to add something of yourself, whilst keeping similarities. You never copy, but instead make it your own.”
Remakes, similarly, crop up a lot in the life of a multilingual actor. Reuten is currently awaiting the release of The Dinner, an English-speaking remake of a Dutch film she starred in back in 2013. Laura Linney will be taking on the actress’ role in the remake, alongside Richard Gere and Steve Coogan. So what does Reuten think of retreading ideas?
“I’m not a fan of remakes for the sake of remakes,” Reuten muses, “but if people are intrigued by a story- if it fascinates people and translates to other countries, like America, for example, then that works. In the Dutch and Danish world we are quite similar and geographically close together, so its much easier to translate projects.”
Last year, Reuten starred in a Dutch remake of a Danish show about an outspoken and rebellious schoolteacher, called Tessa. And, with her latest role in Lucky Man, is it possible that the actress has left film behind for the increasingly popular long-form format?
“I’m always after a story,” reasons Reuten. “It doesn’t matter if there’s a new form I haven’t heard of, its about a good story, it doesn’t even matter what country the story is from. It’s about going and telling that story, that’s what I’m passionate about and why I started acting.
"I’m not a fan of remakes- but if people are intrigued by a story- if it fascinates people and translates to other countries, then it works"
“It could be from my country or from another. Television has to be more like the movies today, in terms of sound and vision and images, as people now watch TV at home on big screens. It’s a big player now – and so important. But, overall, it could be theatre, film or TV – as long as the story is good.”
Reuten has worked extensively on stage, on television and in films. Most recently, her involvement was announced in Red Sparrow, a Jennifer Lawrence-starring spy thriller that will keep Reuten in Budapest until the end of April.
Alongside such actors as Vincent Cassel, Mads Mikkelsen and Lea Seydoux, Reuten is joining an increasing group of professionals who are leaving their native industries and striking out on the global entertainment market. But just how difficult is it to graduate to the world stage?
“To master the other languages and act in them, to not seem like a foreigner, that’s the skill. I think that we’ll see more people doing this in the future, I hope so at least. I think it’s such a positive thing to do, and we all travel so much anyway. In London today, you listen and can hear so many different languages – and stories told in so many different tongues.
“The difficulty in moving from Holland to Hollywood is in your own attitude,” says Reuten. “I knew what I was doing in the Dutch film industry, so of course I knew what to expect when I started working abroad. But, when you step up onto the global stage, it’s kind of like moving from middle school to high school – you have to start working with these people you’ve been looking up to, the older people.
“For me, it happened very organically. I love languages, and I’ve even had the chance to speak Russian and Arabic in my career. But the European languages – Dutch, German, English, Italian and French – are those which I really love acting in. But, of course, who knows how much longer it’ll be this easy to act across the continent. It’s all a bit scary – as we don’t know what Europe is anymore…”
Stan Lee’s Lucky Man starts tonight on Sky 1