Walter Presents is bringing 8-episode crime drama ‘Helsinki Crimes’ to All 4 this month and following my interview with actor Olli Rahkonen, I spoke to his co-star Olga Temonen.
In the series Olga plays Onerva Nykanen, the partner of Timo Harjunpää (played by Rahkonen). The two are part of the Helsinki Murder Squad and use their skills to uncover the perpetrators of some shocking crimes.
I spoke with Olga to find out more about her character, discuss the books that the series is based on, and to talk about Olga’s work outside the series…
I’ve seen the opening episode of ‘Helsinki Crimes’ (Harjunpää) and I’m struck by how immediately likeable both of your characters are. It’s rare to find cop shows where the main characters aren’t bullies or alcoholics, but are instead empathetic and compassionate characters. Did this aspect of the script appeal to you?
Glad to hear that you liked the characters in the series. I agree, it has been nice to play Onerva because she really wants to be good and honest. You can feel this same humanity through the whole series. Although the crimes are bad and the criminals are ruthless, the series still opens the question: Why bad things happen and helps to understand at least a little.
The shows are based on novels by Matti Yrjänä Joensuu. Do you think having characters from on pre-existing books makes them more rounded and fully-formed?
Yes, I think so. I have read Harjunpää’s books and it has at least influenced the role-play a lot. It has been safe to play Onerva when it feels like I really know her.
There are so many detective dramas on our screens these days. What do you think is the appeal, and what makes Helsinki Crimes stand out, do you think?
True, detective dramas always fascinate people, i guess they just somehow move our primitive fears. Helsinki Crimes is different because of the human idea that hardly anyone is born evil. The series also shows the criminal side of the story, and it unexpectedly makes the crimes even more exciting.
Olga, you have been in numerous episodes of ‘Secret Lives’ (Salatut elämät) which has been on air for 22 years and over 4,000 episodes – the second longest running show in the Nordics, according to IMDB. What was it like being in such a well-known Finnish series?
I couldn’t wait for this question! When I graduated as an actor, I joined the series very soon and was there for 2.5 years. The work was wonderful, but the publicity surprised me. However, I soon got used to the fact that if I went to a shopping mall, I was followed by several people who wanted autographs. My character Noora moved to Africa in the series 15 years ago, and yet someone in Finland might spontaneously exclaim to me on the street: You should be in Africa!
As I understand, there’s only been one season so far – will there be future seasons, given how many books Matti has written?
Indeed. We will start filming the second production season in a few weeks.
And what next for you – any future projects you want to share with us?
I have a very special role in the soon-to-be premiered horror film ‘Knocking’. I also got to act in this movie with my 12-year-old daughter Hilma, which was great. ‘Knocking’ is guaranteed to be seen outside of Finland as well.
Walter Presents: ‘Helsinki Crimes’ will be available as a full boxset on All 4 from 17th February 2023.