“I have always been crazy about John le Carre,” declares “The Night Manager” director Susanne Bier during our recent webcam chat (watch above). “I’ve always been secretly envious of anyone who got to deal with his material.” Adapted from his 1993 novel of the same name, this hit AMC limited series stars Tom Hiddleston as the night manager of an Egyptian hotel recruited by the British intelligence service to infiltrate the inner circle of a notorious arms dealer (Hugh Laurie). “I just thought it was an amazingly challenging, exciting, and thrilling world,” Bier says, “so I did a real huge, big effort in trying to convince the producers that I was the right one for it.”
The Danish-born Bier, who helmed the Oscar-winning “In a Better World” (2010) says she had been itching to try elevision for quite some time. “I found it incredibly satisfying and challenging for me to do six hours as opposed to doing two,” she admits. “It’s like dealing with a proper big, fat novel as opposed to doing a short story.” The sprawling shoot took the cast and crew all over the globe, from England and Switzerland to Morocco and Spain. It would be easy to buckle under pressure, but says “that as a director, what you do is you just kind of go for the best possible artistic solution, and then you just want to make it happen, as opposed to worrying about it.”
The director readily conceds she was helped in her efforts by a fine cast, starting with Hiddleston. “He’s almost like a spy himself,” divulges Bier. “He’s very enigmatic, and he will be totally present in the scene, and there will always be a part of him which he’s never going to reveal.” She also had high praise for seven-time Emmy nominee Laurie, “the most charming man in the world.” It’s a trait that served him well for this villainous character. “There’s something quite irresistible about that,” says Bier, “having this really charismatic man, and then knowing that his world is so vicious and dark.”
When the subject of her Oscar win for “In a Better World” comes up, Bier speaks candidly. “It’s a stamp of quality,” she allows. “It does open doors, it does mean that you’ve actually achieved something which is sort of universally recognized. It does not mean that whatever you do next comes lightly, or is less of a pressure. Basically, it does not mean that you at any point can be slack or arrogant about the material you’re dealing with.”
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