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Sofie Gråbøl

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Sofie Gråbøl

Sofie Gråbøl
Gråbøl at the Scandinavia Show in London in 2011
Born Anne Sofie Gråbøl
(1968-07-30) 30 July 1968
Frederiksberg, Denmark
Nationality Danish
Occupation Actor
Years active 1986–present
Known for Detective Sarah Lund in Forbrydelsen
Awards 5 Robert Awards
2 Bodil Awards
Nominated for International Emmy Award (2008)

Sofie Gråbøl (Danish pronunciation: ; born 30 July 1968) is a Danish actress. She has starred in a series of films, starting with the lead role in the 1986 film version of Tove Ditlevsen's novel Barndommens gade and at 17 playing alongside Max von Sydow in Pelle the Conqueror. On television she has starred in Taxa and Nikolaj og Julie.[1]

Gråbøl had become known in Denmark for playing emotional roles, but she achieved international fame as the cool and distant lead character Detective Inspector Sarah Lund in three series of Forbrydelsen (The Killing).[2][3] Forbrydelsen played on BBC4 with great success, winning a BAFTA award, and bringing Gråbøl celebrity status in the UK.


Gråbøl is an actress famous in Denmark with a wide body of work from comedy to Shakespeare. Despite having had no formal training, and only entering acting on the encouragement of her mother as a teenager, she has worked continuously.[4] Responding to a newspaper ad, in 1986 at the age of 17 she got the role as an artist's model in a film about Paul Gauguin.[5] "I thought it would be like a summer holiday job," she said. "Then one film led to another and suddenly I was an actor and I never really felt that I had made the decision."[4] She said, "I felt at home in the language of acting."

The same year she got a breakthrough role in Danish film Childhood Street directed by Astrid Henning-Jensen. In the early years of her career she also studied theology and worked in a bookstore.[6]

Forbrydelsen (English title "The Killing")

In 2007, Gråbøl portrayed the role of police Detective Sarah Lund obsessed with solving the sadistic killing of a schoolgirl in the Danish television series Forbrydelsen (literally "The Crime", English title "The Killing"). Producers of the show envisioned breaking the clichés of female characters usually portrayed on television and film. Lund was to be a driven and relentless detective without her primary concern being for her physical appearance or sexuality. Gråbøl was involved early on in the development process of the series and had numerous discussions with writer and series creator Søren Sveistrup. Her input was integral to the creation of the character, from keeping the character's past a mystery to the choice of clothing and especially that the character was to be emotionally isolated. At one point, the writers were considering having Lund have an affair with one of the suspects. She fought this plot line, explaining that Lund was a female Clint Eastwood and it was removed. Gråbøl had become known in Denmark for playing emotional characters and the role of the cool and distant Lund was a stark departure.

The series was a huge success in Denmark with over half the population watching. Although already well known in Denmark, Gråbøl now found herself stopped on the street as fans of the show wanted to know the secret of the killer. The series was then played throughout Europe. With the show's success, it played in back-to-back weekend installments in the UK on BBC4. With no promotion, and despite being sub-titled, the show became a word-of-mouth success and even topped Mad Men in the ratings.[7] She had been a famous actress in Denmark for twenty five years when she suddenly, to her surprise, achieved cult status in Britain.[8] Even the shape-concealing jumper (sweater) she wore in the show became iconic. She received requests for interviews and offers to work in Britain, most of which she had to decline due to her busy work schedule. However, she had a cameo in the BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous playing her character Detective Lund. In the UK, Gråbøl was named Best Actress at the Crime Thriller Awards and the show won the 2011 BAFTA for Best International TV Show.[9] The BAFTA was awarded to Gråbøl, creator and writer Søren Sveistrup, producer Piv Bernth and director Birger Larsen.[10]

Unlike Britain where the series played with sub-titles, the series was remade for the American audience. Commenting on the first series of The Killing remake, while saying she thought the American version was good, Gråbøl said it was unfortunate American audiences won't accept shows with sub-titles because with the success of the show in Britain, "there's a strong sense of a cultural exchange going on. By watching each other's stories you exchange something very valuable. It's about language and culture and the ways of looking at life."[9][11] In series two of the American version Gråbøl has a small but important part as a Seattle district attorney.[12] In July 2012 it was announced that this US remake was cancelled by the network.[13]

Forbrydelsen 2 was released on 2009, and a third series was released in 2012.[14]

After Forbrydelsen

Gråbøl was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2012 for which she underwent surgery and chemotherapy.[15] She temporarily retired from acting in 2013, but returned to work the next year, appearing in the British TV series Fortitude.[16] In August 2014 she made her English language début on stage in Edinburgh, appearing as Margaret of Denmark in James III: The True Mirror, the third of Rona Munro's historical trilogy The James Plays.[5][17]

In 2015 she played a role in the musicvideo "Under the Make-up" for the song with the same title, by Norwegian band a-Ha. Swedish actress Frida Farrell also had a role in the same musicvideo. Musicvideo was released 24th of August 2015. [18]

Personal life

Gråbøl resides in Copenhagen where she has lived all her life.[19] Both her parents, father Kaj Fladhede Gråbøl and mother Mette Koustrup were architects. Gråbøl's father left her mother when her mother was pregnant with Gråbøl and she was brought up by her mother.[16] Gråbøl divorced her husband the film director Jacob Thuesen in 2006 and has two children by him, a son Bror who was 10 and a daughter Gudrun who was 13 years old in July 2014.[2][4][5][6][20]


  • Oviri (1986) - Judith Molard
  • Barndommens gade (Early Spring, 1986) - Ester
  • Pelle Erobreren (Pelle the Conqueror, 1987) - Virgin Sine
  • Rami og Julie (1988) - Julie
  • Høfeber (1991) - Bank Assistant
  • Dotkniecie reki (1992) - Annette Berg
  • Sort høst (1993) - Clara Uldahl-Ege
  • Nattevagten (Nightwatch, 1994) - Kalinka
  • Carmen & Babyface (1995) - Carmen
  • Pan (1995) - Edvarda Mack
  • Fede tider (1996) - Anne
  • Sinans bryllup (1997) - Cherie
  • Sekten (1997) - Mona
  • Mørkets øy (1997) - Julie
  • Mifunes sidste sang (Mifune's Last Song, 1999) - Claire
  • Den eneste ene (The One and Only, 1999) - Mulle
  • Blinkende Lygter (Flickering Lights, 2000) - Hanne
  • Grev Axel (2001) - Leonora Amalie
  • Lad de små børn... (2004) - Brit
  • Anklaget (Accused, 2005) - Nina
  • Den Rette Ånd (2005) - Lærke
  • Direktøren For Det Hele (The Boss of It All, 2006) - Kisser
  • Vikaren (2007) - Carl's mother
  • Daisy Diamond (2007) - Actress
  • Forbrydelsen (The Killing, 2007) - Sarah Lund
  • Forbrydelsen II (2009) - Sarah Lund
  • Usynlige Venner (2010) - ?
  • Absolutely Fabulous (2011) - Cameo appearance as Sarah Lund
  • Forbrydelsen III (2012) - Sarah Lund
  • The Killing US (2012) - Dep. Attorney Christina Niilsen
  • I Lossens Time (The Hour of the Lynx, 2013) - Helen
  • Det Andet Liv (2013) - Mille
  • Fortitude (2015) - Governor Hildur Odegard


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  16. ^ a b Billen, Andrew (10 January 2015) Sofie Gråbøl: How I survived my year of darkness The Sunday Times (may require a subscription), Retrieved 10 January 2015
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