The Three Wallanders – Kenneth Branagh, Rolf Lassgård, Krister Henriksson

Kenneth Branagh’s Wallander is back on BBC1 – fingers-crossed, a review later today, although I keep saying things like that and they never materialise. Just to be very confusing, he’s the third actor to play Kurt Wallander. There have been two previous versions of Wallander made in Sweden.

The first series were straight adaptations of the Henning Mankell novels, starred Rolf Lassgård and ran from 1995 to 2007. Here are clips from Sidetracked and Firewall, both of which have also been adapted as Ken stories. See how similar yet different they are:

The second series – bar the first story, which was adapted from a Linda Wallander novel called Before The Frost and which also got shown in cinemas – were straight-to-DVD original stories featuring the characters from the novels but not the plots. They starred Krister Henriksson and they’re the ones BBC4 showed last year.

A second series of movies has been made: as with the first series, Mankell is providing the storylines and other writers are finishing the scripts. Tragically, however, the woman who played Linda Wallander – Johanna Sällström – committed suicide so Lena Endre is playing the part instead. Here’s a trailer for the first of the new episodes, and if your Swedish is up to the job, I’ve followed it with a second trailer that has interviews with the actors and director.

The third series stars our Ken and, well, more on that later.

  • “The Three Wallanders”… sounds like a high-wire act….

  • Kathie

    I’m truly shocked to hear that Johanna Sallstrom committed suicide. I’ve seen only the Kenneth Brannagh and Krister Henriksson ‘Wallenders’ and I much prefer the Krister Henriksson version, partly because of Johanna Sallstrom’s on the job interaction with her father. It’s life imitating art too, because of her portrayal of a young woman battling depression. As a person who is being treated for depression (and is not Scandinavian), I have to ask anyone who may know, is depression more widespread in Scandinavia than in the States? I know it is very common everywhere, but the Scandinavian-Depression-Suicide connection has become a kind of cliche.
    I will explain the rest of my preference for the Swedish version I have seen by saying that on the performance level, its far more complex making the entire production more fascinating than the BBC’s take. I do like Kenneth Brannaugh, but I have to say his characterization of Wallender is dull and one-dimensional.

  • Mike

    I also prefer the Swedish version. Despite the death of Linda, truly tragic, the second Swedish series is also excellent. I also like the original, the books, which starred Rolf Larssgard. They are the same stories as the Branagh ones, but I think much better. It’s clear Branagh had them changed a bit to make him more of the star. Rolf makes some mistakes, human ones, and is more self critical, e.g., in one episode, Rolf gets sick, and his nurse is a traitor working for the bad guys, and he starts dating her. In the Branagh, his daughter sets him up to date the woman, so it’s her mistake, in the former, Rolf admits his own stupidity.
    On Sweden and suicide. It is dark. They do have free health care, so she certainly got pills, and she was depressed after her trip where the tsunami hit, and while her and her daughter were saved, many vacationing Swedish friends of hers were killed. She survived by hanging on to a tree with one hand, her daughter with the other. Sad, for sure.

  • Caught one of the Rolf Larssgard versions recently – it’s Boris Johnson surely in the lead role?! Very disconcerting.
    I still prefer the early Krister Henriksson versions especially, those starring Johanna Sallstrom.

  • Coxy

    Totally agree with EdocLeGin on this. Krister Henriksson seems to have Wallander perfectly and was even better when he could interact with his “daughter” – it showed his human, flawed gentle side.
    Branagh is really broody but the series was lacking in his relationship with his daughter – although the featuring of his father was a good addition.
    Just watched an episode of the series with Rolf Lassgard and absolutely hated it. I could not find any empathy with the man at all. He was boorish, arrogant, horribly overweight – ( we had to endure sex scenes too!), rude, a poor police officer and totally lacking in charm.
    If more are to be made – then please bring back the gentle but firm Krister – or I’ll have to skip the Swedish ones and wait for Branagh’s version.

  • John

    Have to say I like Rolf, Wallander with balls. It’s great to have a character interpreted by such different actors. But it’s still Krister a nose ahead, he makes for such an empathetic character but Rolf is a close second. The Branagh series for me is just too disconnected and way too prone to histriconics (King Lear on steroids). But any Wallander is better than none.

  • christinelapping

    I am a great fan of Kenneth Branagh’s work but after watching 2 series with Krister Henriksson think he is so much better. The ensemble playing adds to the atmosphere and I felt you got to know all the characters; Ebba, although a small part was always worth watching. Having watched the second series and then the first series, I was gutted to discover, 3 episodes before the end that Johanna Sallstrom had died – it tinged the remaining 3 episodes, as if the final episode wasn’t tragic enough! I am very sad that KH isn’t going to be making any more – he was Wallander for me.

  • christina betts

    Really got into Wallander watching Branagh first, but quickly got converted to Henriksson. Have watched Lassgard recently and thought they were OK but not as good as Henriksson. He is the King of Wallander. Branagh should take note and leave Wallander alone.

  • BB

    “Tragically, however, the woman who played Linda Wallander – Johanna Sällström – committed suicide so Lena Endre is playing the part instead.”
    Lena Endre plays a differant character, not Linda!

  • Sue

    Watched Wallander as played by Henriksson, which was great. Joanna Sallstrom is sorely missed. We endured Branagh, but was not over-enthusiastic. Getting used to Lassgard, but he could do to lose a few stones.

  • Suzie-Q

    Henriksson is far better than Branagh and Lassgard. Out of them all I am finding Lassgard harder to watch – it just doesn’t work!! Could they not somehow persuade Henriksson to do more?? He is pure quality to watch and an absolute joy whereas the other two make watching too much like hard work!

  • Kathie Godfrey

    Henriksson is so low-key in his performance, it’s like he’s not acting, he’s become the character. That’s always great to see, and very uncommon. When I’m watching him, I feel as though this is what a real detective would be like in action. It’s difficult to describe for anyone who hasn’t seen acting of this caliber. He raises the bar for everyone else in the production and makes the plot-driven Wallender series eminently watchable.

  • Have to say, I did rather like the final Rolf Lassgard one I saw on BBC4 New Year’s Day — maybe it was the use of another actor for the flashback scenes to when Wallander was younger; maybe it was the narrative that pulled me in. But this was the only one where I wasn’t watching RL thinking ‘I can cope with this as long as i don’t think I’m watching Wallander, but instead just another series about a Swedish detective’.
    Krister Henriksson was perfect for me. Branagh is a fine actor, but again I wanted to think of it as ‘just a different character’ rather than Wallander.

  • Carsten Richter Jensen

    I prefer Rolf Lassgård. He is closest to the character of the books. Krister Henriksson is too much of an office worker to me. The British series is after all a remake, and, though well made, does not capture the atmosphere in the books. Besides, I think, they should consider to stop the series. The new ones tend to be just another mainstream detective story without the speciel Mankell-touch.

  • susan lees


  • Yeah, Lena Endre doesn’t play Linda – she plays Katarina, the love interest for Wallander & the district attorney. They didn’t replace Linda – thank god!

  • Irene

    Regarding mental illness and depression among Scandinavians:
    According to Oliver James’s book ‘Affluensa’ it is in the English speaking countries that mental illness is most prevalent. 25% in the UK, 24% in the USA, 20% in the Antipodes, 11% across mainland Europe, 3 to 4% across from Norway to Finland.
    The Scandinavian countries have managed to create an equal society, where each individual is regarded with the respect any human is entitled. They are encouraged to use the gifts they have, regardless of background (parents need not be well off, be well educated, or hold high office anywhere). Opportunities are given to those who show ability, (merit only) despite the fact that everyone is given the same education while young. No private schools, no private health care – no unequal advantages.

  • Mark Carroll

    How much variation is there in detection rate / classification, though? The only very clear-cut depression measure that comes to my mind is suicide rate, but I thought that’s actually rather higher in Sweden than the UK? Perhaps I’m failing to think of some other objective proxy for depression that tells a different story.
    I’m wondering how long it will be before Forbrydelsen reaches me in the US. I’m more inclined to follow the Swedish original than the US remake. One of the things I’ve liked about BBC Wallander was it being shot in Sweden; similarly, it’d be nice to have a bit of a view of Denmark instead of Seattle. Mind you, personally I’d probably find Seattle more depressing with all the rain.

  • Mark Carroll

    Gah, Danish of course, apologies for the thinko.

  • Kathie

    In reading Irene’s entry, I can see that Scandinavian society goes a long way to help support their people’s mental health in a way we Americans can only dream about. However, as a depressive with a strong family history of depression and anxiety disorder, I have been forced to come around to the idea that depression is a strongly inherited condition, literally a brain malfunction, whose first symptoms may be manifested or triggered by negative events. In fact, the latest research actually points to infants manifesting symptoms of depression, which more often than not, become a chronic mood disorder of their adulthood. Sadly, I believe there are several Scandinavian families who also have the inherited defect and have passed it on to generations of their progeny.

  • Irene

    I didn’t think I’d get any replies to my comments re. depression and the Scandinavians. However, I am glad some of you did. Obviously you care about the condition as do I. (I do come across so many people, practically crippled by its paralysing effect).
    Truth is – Scandinavians also suffer from time to time with depression, but the ‘worries’ are less because of the equal society. Also, even today, the family unit is much stronger, certainly more so than in the UK (where I live now). And help is more readily at hand.
    However, as for inheriting this disease – it has been mentioned by some medical practitioners that, severe misuse of both alcohol and drugs by the past two, three generations may have had something to do with it. Either by the mother being addicted to one or the other while pregnant, or, damage caused to the genetic make-up in both sexes.
    I am far from an expert in this field, but I think drugs misuse may be a contributory factor in the case of this debilitating illness, certainly in children who have yet to experience trauma of life.

  • Irene

    In reply to Mark Carroll.
    With regard to early detection rate/classification I can only really draw from own experience.
    I come from a very large extended family (grew up in northern Norway, but have lived in the UK since 1970).
    My mother, and her mother before, both had the gift of understanding people. In those days I am not sure they even knew the words ‘psychiatry’ or ‘psychology.’ In their parlance it was just called ‘heart knowledge’ which they freely shared in order to help others going through difficult times.
    And it was only my mother that I was able to observe, as my grand mother had died before I was born. But knowing the family background and its culture it wasn’t that difficult for her to put a finger on the root cause of the problem(s) as people came to offload their worries, difficulties, whatever. And what might have become a big problem was averted as she, with the help of the ‘patient,’ was able to untie the knot(s) before they had become too tight to undo.
    Being a sounding board takes time, but is very rewarding when one sees a person gaining understanding of their own situation, by looking at themselves objectively, rather than subjectively and making the right moves to correct it.
    One other observation.
    When I first came to England as an Au Pair and language student, I very rarely saw parents hugging their children. Among the working classes, yes, but not generally so as you go up the class structure. If anyone now shares with me their anxieties and depressive problems I ask them how much affection their parents gave them when they were small. And nine times out of ten they had none of it.
    If my mother came across a child that was difficult, disruptive or attention seeking, she used to cup their face in her hands, look into their eyes and say “you are such a good or sweet boy/girl.” She wouldn’t kiss the child unless she knew him or her, but she’d stroke the face gently with her hand, and the child would almost immediately quieten down. Funnily enough, dogs often respond in the same way. Anxieties and bad behaviour in children can often be attributed to lack of affection. And sadly, today it is often misunderstood as a ‘personality problem’ that must be treated with medication.
    Scandinavians are often regarded as being ‘cool’ (even ‘cold’) but that’s not so – they are very affectionate towards their children when they are small, involving themselves in their world, thereby creating a bond and averting any anxieties, or crippling shyness, that might otherwise rear its ugly head later in life.

  • Cecilie

    A year ago I started to see the Wallander-charachter BBC-version, starring Kenneth Branagh and I was taken aback and rather surprised – of how bad I thought the show was. I have to say though it was wonderfully photographed. A shame actually, because normally I love most of the English crime fictional scene/shows I’ve seen, for instance: Inspector Morse, Messiah, Inspector Dauglish.
    The charactirization allround (all the characters!)I thought was very superficial. And the total lack of humor irritated me.
    My all time favorite Wallader is played by the swedish Kristor Henriksson – no doubt. And the late Johanna Sälltstrøm was touching as the daughter of Wallander, Linda, she gave a lot of dephts and authenticity to the role of Linda.

  • Fee Berry

    “The Scandinavian countries have managed to create an equal society, where each individual is regarded with the respect any human is entitled. They are encouraged to use the gifts they have, regardless of background (parents need not be well off, be well educated, or hold high office anywhere). Opportunities are given to those who show ability, (merit only) despite the fact that everyone is given the same education while young. No private schools, no private health care – no unequal advantages.”
    Until the case of Domenic Johansson came to my attention I might have been fooled by the wholly erroneous impression that Swedes have a fair society. If they routinely remove children from loving parents because they are slightly different (no abuse or neglect) then it is certainly not the sort of society I wish to be a part of. I agree with all the comments which say that Krister Henriksson is the best Wallander: the other two don’t come near him in any way. While Kenneth Branagh’s Wallander may be closer to the books, I think the acting, production values, music, style and atmosphere of the Krister Henriksson series set them far above all other Wallanders. I love them, and am very sad that there are no more after the second series.

  • Maggie Ferrari

    Just watched the end of the Wallender series for the second time and just want to say that Krister Henriksson gives ALL Film and TV actors lessons in how to do it to perfection on screen. He is a most sublime sensitive empathetic actor and we can only hope to see him in other brilliant series, if he really is determined to do no more Wallender. So if he should ever read this, Thank you for your brilliant work, Krister. Notwithstanding repeats of The Killing with all its entertaining red herrings and the very good, wildly over-the-top French series, you will leave a huge gap in future Saturday evening viewings.

  • Marie Green

    Oh Krister, you have got to do more Wallander. Pleeeeeeeeeeeease!

  • Richard

    I also think that Henrikson is the man; he is a consummate copper, in the definitive police procedural of the second series. I found the first series a bit overwhelmed by melodrama at times, not least the real life melodrama of the johann salstrom tragedy. Though not as good, lossgard and Branagh are not without merit

  • Greg

    Yes, I agree with Richard and the other subscribers who list Krister as the best Wallander.
    Very impressive performances in every episode. I think the Swedish language gives it something extra too, even though you have to keep referring to the subtitles.
    Regarding the sad death of Joanna and the various comments on depression and suicide, I am not sure if anyone else has noticed the following actor’s suicide too.
    In the second series with Krister as Wallander and Isabelle and Pontus playing the new police recruits, there is an episode entitled “Indrivaren” in which Emil Forselius plays an old love interest (Patrik) of Isabelle’s.
    I noticed in the credits at the end of this episode that it was dedicated to his memory and checking further he too had committed suicide at the slightly older (than Joanna) but still very young age of 35.
    It seems that his acting career seemed to be going nowhere and he took his own life.
    A great series tinged with sadness.
    RIP to them both.

  • Kathie Godfrey

    After reading the most recent entry regarding the suicide of Emil Forselius, of which I was not aware, and as a depressive under treatment myself, I just want to say the following. Our families, our friends and our society as a whole puts tremendous pressure on us to set goals, to do more than the next guy, to succeed and outdo our peers and while some may find that stimulating and even encouraging in some instances, to those of us who struggle with mood disorders, it is often overwhelming. It is an open invitation to examine oneself and find that we’re simply not good enough and to believe that it can be no one’s fault but our own. Some days, for most of us ordinary folk, just getting up, taking a shower and dressing for the day is an achievement. We push ourselves along, always hoping for a better day when we will have the energy to do more. In the meantime, I ask you to recognize that whatever you do or don’t do, you are valued and loved by those around you. I won’t bring religion into this because I know many do not subscribe, but your life has meaning and importance. Please seek help on your own for your depression and stay in touch with your friends and family and your doctor when you are having a particularly rough patch.

  • christine

    I really like Krister hendriksson, have read a lot of the books and think he portrays Wallander’s personal sadness well.

  • Mike Bunn

    [this is good] I have generally been disappointed in the Wallendar series. The earliest one I remember was acceptable only in that it had Rolf Lassgard as the break-the-rules assistant. Later, Lassgard played the main role, and his Wallendar was the only one I truly enjoyed. Why? His character was not the typical socialist policeforce clown. He was a real man, not an effeminate do-gooder.

  • Graham

    Wallander in all it’s guises make for very entertaining programmes.
    However my absolute favourite is Rolf Lassgard, followed by Krister Henriksson.
    As for Branagh’s version, watchable, but way too much focus on him, somewhat of an ego piece methinks.
    Regardless, I have seen all the rest, so look forward to branagh in the final three.
    ps if you like these you may want to try The Girl with series.

  • Mach 3 Turbo

    [isto é bom] I’ve only seen a handful of Brannagh episodes, but have to agree with majority of comments on this site – Krister Henriksson is the best! I find English speaking actors in a Swedish police drama totally unrealistic anyway – like Van Der Valk used to be in Holland – in English?! Let’s have native languages with native speakers and use subtitles. We may not speak Svenska, but we are not stupid either! We were also very sad to read about Johanna Sallstrom’s suicide. Her part in the first season was superb. 🙁

  • Evewar

    I've loved all the BBC 4 Saturday night 'foreign' thrillers/detective series so far,from Lund to Montalbano, with the exception of the Rolf�Lassg�rd episodes of Wallender. I'm disappointed therefore to see he's the star of the upcoming Bergman series. Hope it's an improvement on his take on Wallander …

  • hellosnackbar

    Before seeing the Wallander series with Krister Henriksson I had read all the Wallander books in very short succession.
    Krister Henriksson's interpretation of the Mankel creation is as near perfect
    as is possible.
    Krister if you read this then please sign up for more Wallander episodes.
    There's no other, who captures the character like you.

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  • David C.

    That's right. There is another actress playing his daughter, but I forget her name.

  • David C.

    They could only make more if they were prequels. In the last Henrikkson series, he quits due to advancing Alzheimer's. It is heartbreaking.

  • David C.

    In the final series they do replace Linda. Wallander needs someone to play off of.

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