Musician and actor Steven Van Zandt returns in the role of a gangster with Lilyhammer
What happens when a gangster starts living in a crime-free neighbourhood? “That’s the ultimate fish-out-of-the-water situation,” says musician-cum-actor Steven Van Zandt. That’s the premise of Zandt’s crime comedy series, Lilyhammer. On the show, he is seen as a New York-based mobster, Frank ‘The Fixer’ Tagliano, who moves to Norway after an assassination attempt on him. He tells us about the “idea” that convinced him to return in such a role, after his stint with the hit TV series The Sopranos, and even co-write it. Zandt, who plays guitar for American rockstar Bruce Springsteen’s band E Street, has even composed music for the show.
What got you on the series?
The idea! An American gangster chooses to go to Lillehammer in Norway instead of a place like Utah, Montana or some western state of the US. That was funny. Norway is a small country, there is no crime. It pretty much has one ethnic group. They make their own rules. Norway itself is a character on the show.
Tell us about your character.
This guy is big in stature. In New York, he was called Frank ‘The Fixer’ because he would fix everyone’s problems. He is a friendly guy who got along with people. When an attempt is made to assassinate Frank, he is shocked. He overreacts and runs away to Norway.
Did juggling between acting, writing and music direction get too much?
I like doing more than one thing (laughs). I never wanted this show to be a straight-up comedy. I wanted it to be dramedy, which has its serious moments and good humour. And music can either make a scene more serious or a little lighter.
You directed Bruce
Springsteen in season 3…
It was fun, but I was a little nervous. I wrote a part where he plays my brother. From Martin Scorsese to Steven Spielberg, everybody has been wanting him to act. But he did it for me. It was quite a show of faith.
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