Claes Bang on her role in “Bad Sisters”: “It’s fun to play bad people”

Updated 8/19/2022 at 5:30 PM

  • Danish actor Claes Bang plays the role of John Paul, the show’s “bad guy”, on Apple’s “Bad Sisters” series.
  • In an interview with our editors, he explains what fascinates him about such characters and why he took the role.

The plot of the new Apple series bath sisters is quickly cleared up. The show – an adaptation of a Belgian series “Clan” – focuses on The Garvey sisters (Beck, Bibi, Eva, Grace and Ursula) who live on the coast of Ireland. Everyone has their own problems, but since the death of their parents, they have always been and inseparable from each other.

One day Grace’s husband John Paul dies. The whole family mourns – but appearances are deceptive. The life insurer does not want to pay out a large sum or it would go bankrupt. So the insurance company starts an investigation, hoping that John Paul has been murdered. And this one of The Garvey sisters is behind it – because everyone would have a motive.

actor Claes Bang, who plays John Paul, told us why he took the role – and why he likes it “bad” embody people.

Mr. Bang, what was it about John Paul that intrigued you the most, what made you accept the series?

Claes Bang: Not only the character of John Paul, but the whole project got me hooked. After reading the script, I thought I had never read anything like this in my life. A series starring five women who play siblings. And one of them is married to an asshole. I thought it was all cleverly written. Sometimes you get a script and it reads like a good novel, you just can’t put it down. It’s always a good sign. When it comes to John Paul, there are actors – and I am – who like to play the worst people. I don’t know why, it’s a perverse pleasure.

John Paul is one of the worst television characters in recent years. How did you prepare for the role?

I was just having fun. (laughs) I know it sounds stupid and a little arrogant, but to play a character I have to find common ground with it. It’s about your own narcissism, your own inferiority complex. I can relate to everything John Paul does. If he’s malicious to his sister-in-law, Eva, for buying underwear for his daughter, it’s about protecting his daughter. For me, the point is to find out if there is a good reason for his behavior. He believes that this action came too close to him. I think you can understand that. This is a strange process as it leads you to discover your own dark places. For me, it’s the only way to prepare for a role like this, otherwise it would be something I’m putting in – and that’s why I’m not working very well as an actor. It is important to me that I can put myself in the hero’s shoes. Then, of course, you look for inspiration in your own family. For a while I had a stepfather who was a bad guy. Some of his behavior has been built into the character.

They seem to take pleasure in exploring these dark human places. You played in The Northman this year. In it, you played a man who cheats and kills his half-brother to take the throne. What fascinates you about such characters?

As ordinary people, we try to be mindful of our affairs and be nice, but there is evil in everyone. So I have to find an outlet where it is legal and okay to investigate it. This is exactly what I did with this series. We all agreed that for the next two hours of shooting, I could be the worst asshole in the world. Okay, then I’ll get to work.

The entire cast, from Sharon Horgan (Eva) to you, is cast to perfection. What was the atmosphere like on the set?

The atmosphere with the other actors was fantastic. Everyone is great at what they do. It was great working with all these people. However, I have to say that in every scene I play, I’m the most hated person in the room, which was difficult at times. I’m not a method actor and I don’t take my work home with me. But when you’re on set for a few days, just shooting scenes where everyone hates you, it’s a bit difficult for me. Plus, we shot “Bad Sisters” under severe COVID restrictions, and I’m sick of it. I cannot fully see the person giving me directions. I only see the eyes, I can’t see the expression on my face. You mentioned “The Northman”. This video was made after the first COVID wave, when vaccines didn’t exist yet. Filming was just as tightly regulated. It has to stop. It’s weird when you’re usually in the room seeing everyone, but you can’t here on the set. I probably walked by 90 percent of the people who were working on the show because I didn’t recognize them.

Does it affect your work?

I hope not! But it’s hard to say. If I can’t see the headmaster, I’m missing something. I wish I could see people again.

To put your mind at ease, your performance on the show is fantastic.

Thank you. It’s nice to say that.

What’s next for you?

Shooting for the series “The New Look” has begun, also for Apple. We’re shooting in Paris.

Bad Sisters, starring Claes Bang, Sharon Horgan, Eve Hewson, Daniel McCormack, and more, will be available on Apple TV + starting August 19. There are ten episodes in total.

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