Q&A: 'Trapped' star Olafur Darri Olafsson chats to us about his pride at Iceland's Euro 2016 achievement

Actor spoke to film-maker Marcus Maher for Newstalk's Team 33 just before the tournament

Olafur Darri Olafsson,

Olafur Darri Olafsson (centre) .Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Iceland's Euro 2016 adventure has caught the eye, both in the team's home country and beyond.

The Icelandic national football team isn't the only recent export that we have got to see in this part of the world.

In February, BBC and RTE 2 screened hit Icelandic mystery series Trapped

Award-winning actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who has also appeared in True Detective among other English-language TV series and movies, is one of the star turns and plays the chief of police in the show.

Born in the USA, the 43-year-old grew up in Iceland from the age of four when his parents moved back there.

An avid follower of the Iceland's national football team's fairytale qualification for Euro 2016, Olafur sat down with film-maker Marcus Maher for Newstalk's Team 33 just before the tournament to talk about his view of a team that thus far remain unbeaten in France after two games.

 

Marcus: What's your feeling about Iceland qualifying for the Euros and what's happening in Reykjavik at the moment with Euro fever?

Olafur: Everyone's really excited. Having said that everyone's a bit nervous. It's a big jump into the unknown for us. Our men's team has never made it this far. The women's team have already but the men have never been this far and everyone is very excited about it but at the same time it's a big venue and a big job.

Marcus: Speaking to people in Iceland, they're quietly confident that it's not insurmountable.

Olafur: Honestly, I do not care if we win or lose. I think just making it to the finals has proven that we are able to do it. This comes on the back of the fact that we almost made it to the finals of the World Cup. We had a playoff against Croatia, which we lost. But I think this team has proven that they are capable of anything and everything.

I have to say for me, honestly, truly, I will be so effing proud of having them there, to be able to watch them and say that they have achieved it. I think that's incredible. I mean, it's a nation of 300,000 people. I think it's incredible that they have made it so far.

Marcus has also spoken to the father of Iceland's most famous player, Eidur Gudjohnsen, as well as Arnar Bill Gunnarsson from the country's football association. Both interviews are also available to stream for free on iTunes and on the podcast player:

Marcus: This generation of Icelandic footballers isn't really much of a surprise because this is a really good crop of good players at a good age and did very well in the under-21s. It's a good time to be an Icelandic footballer, I'd imagine...

Olafur: Absolutely and like you said, they're 26-27 which means that they should be at the top of their game in about 2-4 years and that makes you look forward to the next meetings and for me at least, the next World Cup. I really look forward to seeing if they can finish that group and go on to the finals. 

Marcus: Did you play a little bit of football yourself? 

Olafur:  I dabbled in handball a little bit but nowhere near that level (laughs). But I also want to say, I really want to see the finals because you have Wales, you have Northern Ireland... they're not the biggest football nations you can imagine but they've all done really well and it's just going to be so much fun to see not just the usual suspects but new teams. I'm going to watch the Iceland games of course, but there are a lot of good games I want to see.

Olafur: Also I wanted to talk about, as you were mentioning him, Eidur Gudjohnsen, it's so important to have someone of his stature. I mean someone who's played with Barcelona, for Chelsea and I think most Icelanders are really happy that he has had the chance to go to a finals because you have this incredible group of talented players and it's fun to have him there. They call him the old man!    

Even though he doesn't play all the games but he has this ability of coming in because he's just so talented, he can change the pace of the game when he comes in. 

Marcus (jokingly): If Iceland do a Leicester, will they be making a movie and calling you up to play the manager? 

Olafur: (Laughs) The only problem is the coach [Lars Lagerbeck] is far too handsome! But we can figure that out. I would love that. 

Marcus: Iceland as a country has been through a lot over the last 10 years especially. Do you think it's one of those weird dichotomies that sporting achievement doesn't really affect what's happened generally and sociologically in Iceland? I think it's a good thing for the country and a little bit of a boost or pick-me-up. Would you agree with that?  

Olafur: I definitely would. And it's also nice that not all the news is about the economic crash or about depressing banker s***. It's actually nice that it's about sport or arts and stuff like that - Nice exports!

Marcus: Football's popularity has grown in Iceland. Does everyone follow the Premier League?

Olafur: Yes. At least everyone I know has a favourite team in the English Premier League. Of course, most support Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal but I imagine Leicester has a few more fans now than they did a year ago. They had an amazing season and everyone loved that story.  

Marcus: It's a real Hollywood story right there, eh?

Olafur: Let's hope Iceland can do a Leicester at the European Championships.

Olafur has starred in Trapped, Netflix' Lady Dynamite and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty among others.