Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen

14 November 2022

Photography Cornelia Wahlberg
Fashion Christian Schleisner
Interview Cat Evans
Grooming Louise Bruun
Production Trevor Person
Photo Assistant Otto Godthjælpsen
Fashion Assistant Jonas Christensen
Retouch/Post IwonderU Studios

The quaint and quiet promise of serenity meets bustling cityscapes, where cool brick rusted in colours of red and orange is embraced by the resilient greenery of ascending vines and leafless branches. Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen stands tall in the midst of it all, like a beacon of light providing warmth on a chilling, autumnal day. He moves fluidly like the push and pull of an ocean’s tide, always open to both giving energy, and receiving it.

Right now is a true full-circle moment for Lucas, just three years ago he was raving about his favourite show Dark, from creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese – now he’s working alongside them. Taking on a leading role in Netflix's upcoming series 1899, telling the story of immigrants travelling from the old continent to the new as mystery unravels at sea. It is no small feat, and Lucas is ready to take off on this sailing ship to whatever waters are on the horizon next.

A candid excitement animates Lucas as he speaks about what motivates him to take on each day. Acting is, of course, one of these things but also the wonderful people he is able to surround himself with. The purest form of gratitude encompasses the room as Lucas spills his deep appreciation for the support he has from those closest to him in his life, as well as the work he is able to produce as a creator and storyteller. Cornelia Wahlberg captures this ever-present joy gracefully through her lens, dancing in time with Lucas in the city scene before them. Glowing in a variety of patterned trousers, jumpers and coats, Christian Schleisner styles Lucas with washes of colours akin to the leaves scattered on the ground below.

We kick off by cheers-ing our tea cups and ponder on the words of wisdom often printed on the tags of tea bags. These tags of wisdom follow us throughout our chat as we deep dive into self-reflection, finding the ‘good side’ of certain mentalities and the importance of communication and community.

Lucas stars in '1899', arriving on Netflix on November 17th.

How has life treated you since our last chat in 2020?
Yeah, it's already been two years! It feels like a snap of the finger. So much has been happening. Life has its ups and downs, and I would say that I’m in a better place now, but I still feel pretty happy looking back as well. The last time when we spoke, we were in a global lockdown. A lot of people had time to self-reflect and, if it was possible, I'm sure a lot of them thought it was needed, especially for myself. But getting back to work has been incredible, and also trying out new things in life I've only dreamt about. It has been amazing.

I know what you mean about needing the time to self-reflect. I made a lot of art in lockdown to find that reflection.
You tend to go back to the things that are most important which you didn't realise you needed when there was a busy schedule or had so many things going on in the world. It really helps you to take the time to reflect and see the important things in your life that you actually need as constants. For me personally, it was a good time. Of course, it’s difficult to say now, because for some individuals it's been way harder than it has been for others. But in my case, I'm really happy looking back.

You previously described yourself as a “happy energy bop who plays chess”, is this still the case? Or have two more years brought you any additional wisdom and life experience you’d like to share?
Still playing chess. Still a happy bop. Am I wiser? I’d say so. We’ve been taught we shouldn’t be sad about the good moments in life even when they come to an end because nothing lasts forever and I think I've realised that. But, as I said before, I also look back at them with joy because in the future even greater things will come. I would say all you need is the curiosity to seek them out and to look to the horizon to see that great things will come to you - especially for those who wait. That's been my mentality for quite some time now.

That’s a great mentality to have. Sounds like something you would read on a tea tag.
Oh! I have a motivational quote on my tea tag, let’s see what it says. “Love is strength and it will give you knowledge.” Look at that. That’s amazing!

This is very on-brand for us today.
I didn’t choose the tea, the tea chose me!

If you could describe yourself as a specific place or setting, what would it look like?
That's a really good question. I think it would be slightly rainy weather, and I would be in a cabin somewhere in northern Norway with a cup of coffee, not tea this time! I think I would just sit in silence and look out at the endless, bouldery horizon of mountains and be at peace. It's difficult because that’s not how I would fully describe myself, but let's call it my happy place.

What are some of the constants in your life, whether they are people or things?
Friends and family are very important to me. I've actually had this question a lot with some of my friends, where I can't seem to figure out if I’m an individual who recharges when I'm with my friends or when I’m with myself. I can't seem to figure that out, but I think it's a mix. I don't think it has to be one or the other, but it's a really interesting thing to me. I really love spending time with all my friends and family, but I love when I have all of that and then after I can go back and recharge by myself. Maybe it's a good mixture, sometimes I feel better with a lot of people because I can focus 100% on them, and take some of my own focus away from myself. I really enjoy that.

Another constant is chess, obviously.
Yeah, that would definitely be a constant when I’m alone. I’ll just pass out in the living room watching videos on chess. There’s this guy called Hikaru Nakamura, who is one of the best chess players in the world, and I’ll just watch a video where he plays chess live. And I’ll fall asleep watching that, dreaming of gambits in my head!

It’s like being outside of your head while still being in it. There’s this exchange of energy that happens, like giving and receiving.
Yeah, for sure. I'm a guy who gives a lot to people, I give a lot of energy and it's not because I'm searching for it to come back. I think if I've given a lot I'll need to recharge to get it back because you don't always get the same energy back you give away. Not all my friends have the same energy as I do, so they let me pour it all over them.

You are in an upcoming Netflix original series 1899 by creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, what can you tell us about your role in the series?
I'm playing this young man named Krester, who is part of this religious, Danish family that steps aboard this huge steamship in 1899 travelling from Europe across the Atlantic Ocean to America. Before coming on this trip, he's been dealing a lot with his sexuality and the way his mother suppresses him because of their religion. There’s also a dark past about why he looks the way he looks, because he has this massive scar going across one side of his face, and also why his sister is the way she is. He has a guilt, in that sense, because it’s kind of his fault. So my character goes around with this huge scar. He looks different, he feels different, and he definitely gets treated differently. That’s difficult for a young guy at that age, trying to figure everything out. Meanwhile, things are happening on the ship he doesn't really know how to deal with. Some really unsettling things happen … I can't wait for the mystery and spookiness to unfold on the screen.

How was the process of filming 1899?
The filming was for nine months, give or take, and coming onto the show was such a cool experience. It was such a mind-bender because, in my first interview ever in 2018 or 2019, I talked about my favourite show which was Dark on Netflix. Two or three years later, I'm doing their next show. That's so strange … that is so strange! Coming onto this project, being such a fan of the franchise beforehand, working with one of my favourite directors, and now him becoming one of my close friends has been absolutely terrific. Working with such a great cast and getting a family so instantly on the spot, working with an amazing crew and in Berlin, which is such an amazing city. It's been an absolute joy. Working with a script that's so intriguing, compelling and so diverse as well just makes you want to get up every single day. In my case, it was very early every morning too, because of the prosthetics, but looking back I would do it one thousand times again.

Are there any lessons or pockets of wisdom you have taken away from working on 1899?
Yeah, I came into this with such a huge joy, but also a lot of pressure. I knew instantly when I got this part it was going to be a really challenging one, going into it involved a lot of preparation to get into that mindset. I tend to be very judgmental of myself and my work, and I tend to criticise myself mid-shoot but I learned that I just had to completely throw away those negative thoughts. At times these judgments can push you to a level where you didn't think you’d ever be able to push yourself to, but it’s difficult switching between that mentality and then knocking yourself on the head or thinking after every take that you could do better. I learned very, very quickly in the first two months of shooting that I had to switch my mentality and push myself to the good side. Self-criticism is still there but I can use it to push myself so that by the end of the day, I walk home every day with a good feeling in my stomach.

Pushing yourself can be a good thing at times. It’s like finding comfort in the discomfort.
Of course. And Bo, the director, was very good at sensing sometimes when I had this self-criticism. He would pull me aside and talk to me about it. I would sometimes be so frustrated at myself when it didn't feel like I was pushing myself enough, and he was really good at handling that. He made me feel confident but also gave good criticisms as well. He's a person that doesn’t bullshit you, if he thinks it's great, he lets you know it's great. If he thinks that it needs some work, he lets you know. So you don't have to deal with these thoughts yourself. Learning to communicate with him very early on was amazing, and I think the bond we have now is so much stronger because of respecting each other and each other's work.

How does 1899 bring a different energy because of the various ages and experiences of the cast?
Coming into this was different because we all came from different places in Europe, which was incredible just to see how many variations there can be in culture and language. But at the same time, I felt like in this production, we all connected with humour. We all had the same kind of humour, which was great because we could all meet on that and feed off of it. That was really, really nice. But when you're on a film set, I don’t think there’s such a thing as age difference. It doesn't really matter if you're twelve or thirty, because you all just hang out. Everyone accepts you, you're part of a bigger thing. I would say, as a cast member looking at other cast members, you just respect them all. Everyone in the cast has such a special place in my heart, and I think about them every day.

Are there any myths or legends about the mysteries of the sea you know or believe in?
Yeah, I mean, we’ve only discovered around 5% of the seas. So, there's something out there. It's really intriguing, but also completely terrifying. Nature is so amazing, and humans as a species are just a little grain of salt compared to not just the earth, but the whole universe. I’m sure Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, is out there. I mean, we have elephants! Nessie must be out there.

What is a role or genre you would be interested in exploring that you haven’t yet?
I would love to do a real period piece with these beautiful costumes, locations, and a masquerade ball where it’s very much like, ‘Oh, finally we tell the girl we love her.’ I know it sounds so cheesy, but I would love to do it. Drama as well has always been very close to my heart and something that feels really real, so I’d love to do that. I say that now, but then when you do it, you feel like ‘Oh, I just want to do something crazy sci-fi again, where it's like boom, action.’ But I'm really intrigued by the drama genre. Bringing emotion to audiences is something I love doing and, of course, watching as well. You really feel something in these deep dramas about love, and I tend to love that when you really go into the acting as well.

Do you have any rituals or habits for getting into a role?
It's difficult to say because it depends on the project. I really like to prepare as much in advance as I can because research is such a big part of it. It also depends on how much time you have before you start shooting as well. If you have a couple of months, it's nice to really delve into what character you're playing. I would say I tend to over-prepare stuff, just so I can be on set and throw out all the stuff I've taken in and just have it all in my backpack. I really like to do that.

What other things would you like to achieve or experience outside of acting?
It's a good question. Very, very difficult to answer, because there are so many answers. I tend to always say that, I love acting, and I've loved it since I started but I will do it until I don't love it anymore. It's very important to have a purpose. When you have a purpose, you have a reason to get up, to proceed and to keep fighting for what you love to do. I would love to see as much of the world as possible though. I would love to summit a mountain. I've already climbed a little mountain in Norway, not that impressive, it was two-thousand metres. But I would love to summit one of the big ones, like Everest or somewhere else in Nepal. So I'm going to prepare for that, and I'm going to do it. Another thing I would love to do is learn Japanese!

Those are both great! One for the brain and one for the body.
Yeah, that’s true! A great way of seeing it. Maybe they won’t be right now, but they’re future goals, for sure.

What is your favourite part of the art of story-telling?
I think to infiltrate emotion into an audience, where it’s something that feels like it comes from within themselves and they feel like they can relate to something they're watching. I personally really love that feeling when you watch something, so to bring that emotion to someone is why I love it. It’s transcribing a script onto a screen that makes someone feel something that they can relate to, I think that's one of the best parts of storytelling. It's pretty special to move people in any way. Even if it's just one person you reach, it’s an incredible feeling.

How does it feel being a young actor in the industry at this current moment? It's difficult at times, especially because there are so many of the same jobs. So, I’m lucky to have work at the moment in the crisis we are also living in right now. I feel very privileged and extremely lucky to be able to have some work because it's tough, and coming from a little country like Denmark, we don't make many productions. I feel really lucky to be in 1899, it’s incredible. I hope to continue and be able to do what I love, which is acting. I would say it's not easy, but you know, one day at a time.

What do community and support mean to you personally?
It really means the world to me. It can make my whole day, to be honest. People who take the time to write a sweet message once in a while, because they want you to know something they felt and wanted to share it. It’s such good energy and I really, really appreciate it. Even with friends and family, my mom and dad have always been very supportive of what I do. As well as my siblings and cousins, it’s really nice to feel like they have your back. I feel obligated to give them something back as well. My younger brother is still very young and I try to inspire him as much as I can, without infiltrating his own ways. But the support is truly something I will never take for granted. I can wake up sometimes and feel down, but looking at one message from someone that took the time to write something because they had you in their mind is really incredible.

How would you identify your personal values?
I would say to be joyful, patient, and see the good in people. That's really important. Also, be goofy and don't take everything seriously. That's a big part of accepting different types of people. There are two sides to a story, be open-minded.

Since this year is nearly coming to a close, what has been the highlight of your year thus far?
Getting to know way more about myself, for sure. Getting time off work a bit as well to process this year. I've been working a lot this year, so it's very nice to have the time to reflect. I went on this incredible trip to Norway that I planned with some of my friends, and that trip was one of the best trips I've ever had. If you’ve never been to Norway, you should go there. It was a place called Jotunheimen, which is a national park where it’s not too touristy. If you go there in the fall, it's some of the most amazing nature I've ever seen. It really makes you think of how much we need to take care of the world, and how much is out there that's untouched and should stay untouched. Just walking in that environment was incredible for me.

Thank you for this wonderful chat, Lucas, it’s been a pleasure.
Thank you, the pleasure’s all mine. Sharing space can really move mountains. That sounds like another tea-tag wisdom moment!

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above: Lucas wears cardigan by Tommy Hilfiger, jumper by Won Hundred, trousers by TG Botanical and earpiece by Vibe Harsløf

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above left and right: Lucas wears jacket by Henrik Vibskov, shirt by Sloth Rousing, skirt by Sabine Poupinel, trousers by ARV, tie by Pierre Cardin, brooch by Carmen Copenhagen and boots by Dr Martens

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above left: Lucas wears shirt by Pancaldi & B, vest and trousers by Henrik Vibskov, tie by Hermes, brooch by Carmen Copenhagen and boots by Bruno Magli
above right: outfit as before

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above left: Lucas wears jacket by Henrik Vibskov, shirt by Jean Paul Gaultier, Trousers by Versace and brooch by Carmen Copenhagen
above right: Lucas wears jumper by TG Botanical and trousers by Won Hundred

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above left: Lucas wears jumper by & Other Stories, trousers by Cos and rings by Carmen Copenhagen
above right: outfit as before

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Lucas wears jumper by & Other Stories and shirt by Mark Kenley Domino Tan

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above: Lucas wars jacket by Lala Berlin, jumper by TG Botanical, trousers by Won Hundred, boots by Mark Kenley Domino Tan, bag by Tom Ford and brooch by Hriam

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above left: Lucas wears jacket by TG Botanical, Vintage blanket and robe, scarf by Dior, trousers by Nadia Wire, brooch by Carmen Copenhagen and boots by Dr Martens
above right: Lucas wears poncho by Mark Kenley Domino Tan and jumper by Tommy Hilfiger

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above right: outfit as before
above left: Lucas wears jumper by Lovechild, kilt by ARV and trousers by Tommy Hilfiger

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