Llana Rapp / Huff Post Entertainment
There’s something about Norwegian actor Nils Hognestad that melts me. Ever meet someone and you know they have something special, but you can’t pinpoint it? Exactly. So now you know what — I mean who — is keeping me up at night!
Tell us about your family history and your first name, Nils.
Well, I’m a purebred Norwegian — born in Bergen, with both parents from families of 10 and entire family history stemming from Norway. I was named after my Morfar (mom’s dad), who died of similar heart complications that I was born with, actually. The name Nils means ‘Champion of the People’, but it also means the plural of nothing, which I like to think more of as infinite than nothing. Hah!
In the YTV teen comedy hit Some Assembly Required, what’s it like performing in front of a live audience for TV vs. a live audience for theatre?
You know, Some Assembly Required was such a refreshing experience for me. I had done a lot of theatre before, and a lot of film and television, but shooting in front of a live studio audience is a perfect hybrid of the two. While doing anything on camera, you don’t get any of the feedback from your performance until it premieres months later; whereas in theatre, you know immediately how your performance is being received. With a live studio audience, you not only get the immediate feedback on your performance, but you also get these wonderful broken 4th wall moments of interaction with the audience while they’re setting up for the next take- which you would never get in theatre. It’s a rare joy when you get to interact with your audience during the immediacy of filming.
You were born in Norway but spent most of your childhood in London and Vancouver. Why did you move around? What are the differences you noticed as a child between Norway, London and Vancouver? Do you still have family in Norway?
I moved around so much because of my father’s work. He works in shipping and we found ourselves moving to the ports with the best opportunities for his career advancement. My sister and I made the moves entertaining for ourselves — pretending we were Norwegian royalty that were under witness protection, and that at the age of 18, we would return to our parents, the king and queen of Norway. In Bergen, Norway, you could sense how small it all was, whereas London was the opposite. If you blinked for too long, you’d be lost worse than a kid in Walmart. Now Vancouver, I found, has this wild, independent nature. I believe any city, like life, is what you make of it, and it will be whatever you need it to be. As much as I hated moving around growing up, in hindsight it was the most beneficial thing for my development. But I have also learned that Vancouver is home. This is where my heart is. The majority of my family — including 43 first cousins — still live in Norway. I visit as often as possible, which is never enough.
What’s it like working with kids on set, such as in MY SISTER’S KIDS: MY GOLD RUSH ADVENTURE?
In the past two years I’ve found myself on set with a lot of kids, and I constantly have this echo of Jim Carrey in my ear. He was quoted in an article once, saying that working with children and animals had taught him more about acting and life than working with adults. I couldn’t agree more. The natural openness of animals and children is something I think every adult needs to strive towards in acting, and working with children is a constant reminder to simply be present and not focus on how you’re performing or how you look.
What’s with the beard, dude?
Hahaha! Well, it started with a whole lot of laziness, then I loved the look, continued booking work, and decided to continue maintaining it. 2014 was the year of the wild beard, 2015 is the year of the short, managed beard.
How many tattoos do you have and where are they placed? What is the reason for each tattoo?
I have one large tattoo that takes up a quarter of my back and I’m constantly getting it extended. It started with a signature — which is a combination of my grandfather’s signature, and my own. I have flowers that represent everywhere I’ve lived and every member in my family. There’s a stag, a tree of life, a crab, a butterfly, a waterfall, icicles, and I’m about to get a crow, moon, and our solar system added to the mix. Everything is representative of a very specific time, person, or accomplishment in my life.
The CD Exchange club you’re in, where you switch music CD’s with others sounds cool! How did you get involved with the club?
Yah! It’s wicked!! I’m apart of a couple CD clubs, and it’s just an eclectic mix of people that share our tastes with each other. At this exact moment, I’m listening to Barry Latimore, ‘Move and Groove Together’. I have quite the vast taste in music. I don’t like extremes of any type of music – except pop. Super bubblegum pop is the only extreme I can handle. I may be Norwegian, but death or black metal is not my jam. Though, I have found myself at metal concerts in the past. I like punk, classical, jazz, funk, soul, pop, musicals, folk, country, and I’m sure there’s more. Play me any motown or soul, and I’m melting. I have been doing these CD clubs since 2006, and I don’t quite recall how it all began. It was purely a way to keep in touch with friends around the world while I was living in London, and has just become something that has grown to so many people – there are handfuls of people I don’t know personally, just musically.
You’ve done a lot of theater. What’s your best and worst theater experience ever, as a young performer and as an adult.
This is a tough question. My best as an adult was playing Macbeth in London. Hands down. Even though I’ve already played it, it is still a dream role of mine. Call me Norwegian, but I have a very strong affinity to all things dark, morbid, and haunting.
My worst as a young performer? Probably that time I did a show in middle of nowhere Ontario, wearing nothing but a pair of underwear that had bunny ears and a tail. I have never been so aggressively attacked by a crowd of blue haired biddies.
What clothing and shoe brands do you like to wear and why?
I go through phases, but right now I’m obsessed with Moods of Norway clothing, and John Fluevog shoes. I love Fluevogs because they’re local and always unique statement pieces. And Moods of Norway I love because A) They’re Norwegian, B) They have a sense of humor to their clothing (all their tags say that the clothes were made by really, really pretty blonde girls), and C) Their logo is a tractor. I feel like I’m staying true to my father’s farming roots by wearing their clothes.
What’s the most important thing in your daily routine?
Being self-employed, my daily routine changes constantly. Some mornings I wake up and go to the gym after a smoothie, others I wake up and meditate, or on really tough mornings, it’s directly to the shower to lie down until I wake up proper. But the constant for me is food. I have to eat within the first 30 minutes of waking up, or else I get hungry. It is all dependent on what I need to get done that day – but I have to do one to two physical activities a day; whether that be yoga and swimming or hiking and gym or water polo and paddle boarding. I try to floss daily, but the most important thing for me is my daily shower. I don’t feel properly balanced and refreshed until I’ve had my shower.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Yah! Check out My Sister’s Kids: My Goldrush Adventure in cinemas later this year! It’s an adorable film with a wonderful message that everyone in the family will love. Also, Season 2 of ‘Some Assembly Required’ is now on YTV, and it looks like Mr. Gournisht may be making another appearance!