Jasper Pääkkönen • Actor
by Annika Pham
25/01/2006 - Born in a family of actors, Jasper Paakkonen embraced his obvious acting career from a very early age and had a meteoric rise to stardom thanks to his leading part at the age of 20 in Aleksi Mäkelä's Bad Boys-A True Story [trailer], the biggest B.O hit ever in Finland. His association with the producer of Bad Boys Markus Selin (Solar Films) gave him the chance to take the key role in the 2005 critical and box office success Frozen Land [trailer] by Aku Louhimies, and in this year's phenomena Matti -Hell For Heroes again by Aleksi Mäkelä, set to break new audience records domestically, in which he embobies the famous Finnish ski-jumper Matti Nykänen.
Cineuropa: Is acting something you've always wanted to do?
Jasper PääkkönenActing has pretty much always been the only choice for my career, and when I was younger I was determined to pursue the career one way or another. I got the chance to start acting as a full time job when I was eighteen, and have been able to act in very interesting projects ever since.
In your latest film Matti Hell is for Heroes you are the famous ski-jumper and Olympic gold medallist Matti Nykänen. Did you actually meet him and how was it to play a national icon?
I did not meet him since at the time of pre-production and shooting he was in prison. So I studied old tv-footage, interviews etc to build my character. Everyone in Finland has their own feeling and idea of Matti since he is the biggest sports star here, and also a very controversial figure and it was very challenging to build the character and "jump into his shoes".
The fact that Matti himself liked the movie, and thought it's a very accurate description of his life was relieving to hear as an actor.
You've appeared in Bad Boys-A True Story [trailer], Frozen Land, the biggest local hits of the last two years in Finland and now Matti which is set to break this year's box office records. What impact has it had on your career?
It has given me the opportunity to select some interesting roles and skip the ones that aren't that challenging, given me some freedom in other words. Matti was an idea that I developed with the director Aleksi Mäkelä, and if I hadn't acted in his previous film Bad Boys, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to present the project to the producer, Markus Selin.
What projects do you have lined-up for 2006?
I don't have anything very certain planned besides promoting Matti around Europe. I do have one movie planned for the summer, also directed by Aleksi Mäkelä, but It is still not 100% sure. Also, I am writing an adventure/travel fishing show for television since fly fishing is my passion. We will shoot it around the world with another Finnish actor.
Are there specific European directors that you would like to work with?
Lukas Moodysson and Josef Fares are the two Swedish filmmakers from a younger generation that I like, both for different reasons.
When I was younger, I went nuts after seeing Danny Boyle's Trainspotting. Also, Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine was something that impressed me as a teenager and convinced me that I wanted to pursue a career as a film actor.
How does it feel to be nominated as Finland's Shooting Star 2006?
It’s very clear that it's a big honour, and I am very excited about the possibility to meet the other actors and people around the project. I would very much like to act in English in the future, and Shooting stars is a great opportunity to meet Europeans in the industry. Finnish films in general haven’t really been successful in Europe, but I hope Matti will gain something good from shooting stars as well, since in the ski jumping countries such as Germany, Austria and Norway Matti Nykänen is still very well known.