Why Steven Van Zandt Didn’t Speak Norwegian in Netflix’s Lilyhammer


Steven Van Zandt, the star of Netflix crime series Lilyhammer, reveals why his character Frank Tagliano doesn’t speak Norwegian in the show.

Steven Van Zandt, the star of Lilyhammer, reveals why his character didn’t speak Norwegian. Zandt, who is well known for his portrayal of Silvio Dante on the acclaimed HBO crime show The Sopranos, played former mobster Frank Tagliano in the Netflix series. Created by Anne Bjørnstad and Eilif Skodvin, the show also starred Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Steinar Sagen, Robert Skjærstad, Tommy Karlsen, Fridtjov Såheim, and Marian Saastad Ottesen.

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Now, in celebration of the show’s 10 year anniversary, Zandt discussed why his character refrained from speaking Norwegian on WeAreNetflix. Speaking with Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, Zandt described the decision as an experiment. Stating that he and the creators ultimately decided that Tagliano would understand the language but not speak it, Zandt said that they hoped to satisfy both English-speaking and Norwegian audiences. Despite the experimental nature of the decision, Zandt noted that it eventually paid off and that the “one character speaking English was enough.


“It was really an experiment, you know. We spent a year writing it, me and the two creators you know, Eilif Skodvin and Anne Bjørnstad. We were like, ‘How much English should there be? Because we have to satisfy a Norwegian audience also’. And it was just an experiment, ‘Well, the premise will be that my character understands Norwegian but doesn’t speak it’. And we weren’t sure, is that going to work or not? And it turned out that it worked for Norwegian audience and it worked for the American audience also. The subtitles just disappeared after a while. The one character speaking English was enough.”

Steven Van Zandt and Marian Saastad Ottesen in Lilyhammer

The show followed Tagliano and his efforts to integrate into a new life in Lillehammer, Norway, after testifying against a new Mafia head (Thomas Grube) in New York. Premiering in 2012, Lilyhammer marked Netflix’s first original series, garnering critical praise and smashing the ratings record in Norway with over 998,000 viewers, equalling a fifth of the country’s population. Though the show was canceled in 2015 following a successful three seasons, Netflix would go on to commission a string of acclaimed original series such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. Additionally, the streamer proceeded to create a number of major international titles, amongst which is its most successful series to date, Squid Game.

More: Netflix: Every Movie & TV Show Coming In February 2022

Source: WeAreNetflix

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