Interview with Olli Haaskivi of “Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” on Disney+ by Suzanne 4/14/21
This was a very fun Zoom interview! Olli is very personable and easy-going. He’s done a lot of different shows, so we had much to talk about.
Suzanne: So, tell us about your audition process for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Olli: Yeah, it was, it was pretty straightforward. I made an audition tape in my apartment in New York City, right where I’m sitting right now, with a sort of fake audition scene that had no identifying details; there were no specifics to it. It was a version of what you ended up seeing in the series, but very generalized.
So, I made the tape, and I, for some reason, was in a bit of a time crunch making the tape. I don’t know if it was due immediately or what. Maybe I had something else going on, but I sent it off pretty quickly and really didn’t feel great about it. I sort of felt like – I remember waking up the next morning thinking, “You know, that was a really good opportunity, and I don’t know that what you said was good enough.”
I didn’t hear anything for about a month or so; it took a little while, which is kind of uncommon. Usually you hear within a couple of days that there’s maybe some interest, or maybe you’re in the last two people they’re considering or something like that. There’s usually some sort of medium step between auditioning and getting the job, and this was just radio silence for about a month.
Then, out of the blue, I got an email saying that I got the job and that I was going to have to go shoot pretty quickly after that.
Also, I didn’t know what the job was when the audition came in. It just said it was for Untitled Marvel Project Number Five or something like that. So, when I got the offer, it wasn’t an offer for the Falcon and the Winter Soldier; it was an offer for Untitled Marvel Project Number Five, and it took a little while before anyone told me what I had gotten myself into.
Suzanne: Well, I assume you knew by the time that you shot it.
Olli: I didn’t. The person who sent me the script pages, the official script pages, I emailed them back and said, “Is there anything you can tell me about?” I didn’t know if it was a film; I didn’t know if it was a TV project, and they very graciously filled it a little bit.
Suzanne: Oh, that’s good. Do they say, “Don’t tell anyone or we’ll send someone to kill you?”
Olli: Yeah, truly, they’re not. I’m used to that with some projects that I’ve been a part of, but Marvel is obviously a whole other level of security.
Suzanne: So, when you generally audition, do you usually feel like you did a good job, and then you get the part? Or how is it usually?
Olli: I mean, there’s no one formula, which is freeing in a lot of ways, but it’s also can be maddening. I’ve auditioned for things and felt like I really nailed it, and sometimes people clap and cheer in the audition room, and that doesn’t mean you’re going to get the job. Then, this Marvel job also feels like an example that you can feel terrible about what you did and still end up with a job. I think that it’s so easy for actors to want to micromanage every second of their audition and get very sort of detail obsessed, and I certainly am guilty of that often. But, usually, the thing that gets you a job is something totally out of your control. It’s just some sort of intrinsic part of your essence, or just your face is the kind of face that the writer had in mind while they were writing that part or something. I think, usually, the thing that seals the deal is not in your control, as much as you might want to think it is.
Suzanne: Yeah, I guess you would have to just after a while just start to say, “Oh, well, next project; let it go. Don’t worry about it.
Olli: You’re always doing your best, and you don’t always have a lot of time sometimes. It can be 6pm and you get eleven pages that need to be taped by noon the next day. So, I’m always doing the best that I can in the time that I have, but sometimes it’s frustrating to feel like, “If I only had one or two more days, that really could have settled into something.” But hopefully there’s another audition a couple days later. Then, you dust yourself off and continue hoping for the best.
Suzanne: Yeah, I don’t know how you guys do this. I mean, the closest thing a non-actor can relate to is a job interview, and you’re just constantly interviewing for jobs over and over. I understand. So, what was the actual shooting like? Tell us about that.
Olli: It was such a blast, especially, because it was my last big job before the pandemic shutdown, and I’m so thankful that my last job before that was such a phenomenal experience. It’s such a warm and wonderful experience and also a gigantic experience. I think it might be a little while before we have massive sets like that with everyone able to co-mingle and not have to stay far apart wearing face shields. It was really wonderful.
You never totally know what you’re getting yourself into when you show up for a couple days of shooting something, because you really can feel like a guest in the house. I’ve said this analogy before, but it always sort of feels to me like you’re trying to jump on board a moving train but not attract attention and not stick out for not knowing where you are or what you’re doing. I’ve mostly had really great experiences guest starring on a lot of shows and recurring on a lot of shows, but you still never know. You can show up on a day where everyone is tense for some reason, and you still have to figure out how to perform your best, even though you don’t know anybody, and you’ve never been there before.
So, I definitely always show up wondering what the mood will be, what the style will be, and this at every single turn was so welcoming and so inclusive. I think everybody on the set was so excited about the show they were making. And what’s even more remarkable than that is that they were excited to include a new person in that excitement. Because if you think about it too, my sequence is me and the stars of the show. It’s me and Anthony (Mackie) and Sebastian (Stan) and Daniel (Brühl) and Emily (VanCamp). They could have very easily sort of been in their little group over there and then [been] sort of like, “It’s cute that you’re here, but this is sort of our thing,” which happens sometimes, and that’s fine, but they really brought me into their circle. These are people that have been working together for a decade now in a lot of cases, and they made me feel like I had been there with them the whole time. I can’t say enough about how much I love those guys.
Suzanne: Yeah, nice. Anything you can tell us in particular about shooting your your part? I mean, fun things or interesting things.
Olli: Yeah, I mean, it links back to the previous question, but the thing I think about a lot is that right before we started shooting, we’d had a rehearsal day, which is almost completely unheard of. So, we had time, a full day, before we started shooting. We had time to sort of talk it out and walk through some blocking ideas and really sort of calmly and methodically talk through it, which is unbelievably rare. Usually, you’re trying to rehearse something as fast as you can; shoot it as fast as you can.
Then, I showed up to shoot the next morning, and before we started shooting, Anthony and Sebastian came over to me. They said, “You have the harder job in this sequence Do you want your close ups to be first or last?” which was mind blowing to me, because that recognition, first of all, that you have the heavy lifting here, “How can we help you?” is gigantic. It also means they had a conversation prior where they coordinated with one another, that they were going to do that. They probably ran it by Kari (Skogland), the director. It was just a level of kindness and a level of them sort of being good hosts. That was really phenomenal, and I don’t think I’ve ever – I’ve worked with a lot of great directors; I’ve worked with a lot of amazing actors, and I’m 99% sure that’s the first time anyone has extended that kind of generosity. I think that’s really, really special.
Suzanne: How long did it take to shoot your scenes?
Olli: I don’t fully remember. I think we shot for three days, but the final day was basically just devoted to the gunshot and the explosion. So, we had a day or a day and a half where we shot the bulk of it and then came back the next day for the special effects stuff.
Suzanne: And you said it was right before the pandemic, or was it in 2019?
Olli: It was… it was right before Christmas. 2019. I mean, it was really only almost a year and a half ago now, but it also feels like, you know, four decades ago at this point.
Suzanne: Yeah. I imagine all the special effects and all the stuff they have to do afterwards takes a long time.
Olli: Yeah, I mean, that show looks stunning. It’s so beautiful. I’m really in awe of those editors and those special effects people. What they do is extraordinary.
Suzanne: Oh, it’s amazing. I’m sure by now that they must have it down to a fine science they’ve done so many of these things. Were you a fan of Marvel movies, comics, or TV shows before this?
Olli: I was a fan from afar. I had so much respect for what they’re able to accomplish, like we’re saying, especially in the effects department. I had seen a couple of the films, but I was not a person that like ran out to see the new one every single time, but the ones I did see – you know…your hair is blown back just sitting there just going, “How in the world did they do that?” But I saw Black Panther, and I believe I saw the last Avengers film, but I’m not completely sure, to be honest.
Suzanne: You must have been confused if you only saw the last one.
Olli: Yeah, and I think that’s kind of why I hadn’t seen that many of them, because I was sort of intimidated by how much history there is and how much to keep straight. So, when I would see something and kind of jumping in the middle, I would go, “This is so amazing. I have almost no idea who these people are or what’s happening.” So, I also really had felt intimidated showing up to shoot, because I did as much research as I could, and there’s a lot in that scene that, you know, the scene told me almost everything I needed to know, but I didn’t want to reveal the depth of my complete lack of knowledge.
Suzanne: Now did you go back and watch the movies after this?
Olli: I haven’t. No. I know that so many people during their sort of lockdown quarantine watched all of them in order, but I think I was busy watching things that I’ve already seen and loved that I knew would just be comforting.
Olli: Yeah, not require too much thought.
Suzanne: Well, you definitely saw the best one when you watched Black Panther. That’s probably the best superhero movie ever. I mean, they did such a fantastic job with that one, and it’s closer to the comics. I mean, just everything.
Olli: Oh, interesting.
Suzanne: It’s just fantastic, but also, actually, the ones that relate to your show, the Captain America movies, are really good. Then later they sort of segue into the Avengers movie. So, if you just watched the Captain America and Avengers movies, you probably do have all of the background that you would have needed for this show.
Olli: Now, I mean, having first hand experience with how amazing those people are and how hard they work, I just want to go watch my friends now.
Suzanne: Yeah, I can understand that, but I don’t think there’s really a bad Marvel movie, at least in the in the recent ones, the ones from the last decade, but they vary, but it depends on who you ask. I kind of like these things, but I grew up reading comics.
Olli: Oh, cool.
Suzanne: I have three older brothers, so that’s why.
Olli: Amazing. You didn’t have much of a choice.
Suzanne: They’re all total geeks, and I’m not saying anything that they wouldn’t say themselves. And you were on Manifest for a while too, right?
Olli: I was, yeah.
Suzanne: Do you still watch that or keep in touch with those people?
Olli: I do keep in touch with some of those people. Melissa (Roxburgh), who’s the lead of that show, left in New York City the same day that I arrived back, and so we were sort of hoping that we’d be able to see each other, but we literally just missed each other, but I talk to Melissa pretty regularly.
Jared Grimes, who I did a lot of things on that show with, who plays Adrian, he and I are in touch.
I’m in touch with some of those writers. Some of the writers reached out watching The Falcon in the Winter Soldier, which was really sweet.
Suzanne: Oh, that’s nice.
Olli: Yeah, it was so nice to hear from them. There are so many great people that work on that show, and that in particular is a great crew. So, I’m excited. I haven’t watched anything from their new season yet, but I am excited to.
Suzanne: Yeah, I think they’ve only had a couple episodes so far.
Olli: I think so. Yeah, I think they’ve only had two.
Suzanne: Yeah, I interviewed some of them a few weeks ago, so, yeah, they seem very nice.
Olli: Oh, nice. Who did you talk to you?
Suzanne: Well, we had two separate ones. One was Melissa, and Matt.
Olli: Yeah, Matt’s so great.
Suzanne: …So, you have a certain amount of loyalty to the shows that you’re on. even though you’ve left them? And, you know, the people on them, would you say?
Olli: Yeah, and I think it’s the knowing the people that creates the loyalty, because, you want to see what they’re up to, and you want to see how the story continues to unfold and all of that. Yeah, a good set run by good people makes you feel like you’re part of the gang forever, and so, yeah, there are definitely things that I’m now just a fan of, even though I was a part of it for a period of time.
Suzanne: That’s good. You gotta find a show that where they’re not going to kill you off so quickly.
Olli: I agree with you. I would love [that]. I am on the market for that exact thing.
Suzanne: And you said you watched some of your favorites during the pandemic. Can you tell us what some of your favorites are?
Olli: Sure. I mean, I’m still in the middle. I’m very slowly working my way through Veep again, which is just the best. Every single person on that is phenomenal. I found Better Things to be really comforting during this period of time, Pamela Adlon’s show. And there are some new things I’ve watched. I mean, I thought I May Destroy You was unbelievable. One of my best friends is the lead of High Town, so I was thrilled to watch all of that as fast as I could. But yeah, something about this time has – you know, we’re all sort of limited – at least I feel like I’m limited in the amount of new things that I can take on. I just want to watch something comforting.
Suzanne: Well, actually, one thing I forgot to mention, we were talking about all the Marvel stuff. A really great show that came before yours was Wandavision.
Olli: I watched that.
Suzanne: Oh, you did watch that? Because that one you don’t really have to have seen the movies much.
Did you read any of the background stuff about the shows like the Easter eggs they put in for fans and stuff like that?
Olli: A little bit. And I’m sure you know, there are so many amazing videos on YouTube where people do just deep dives into that stuff, and I think Marvel and Disney Plus did such a good job. I can’t remember what the series is called, but but they put out such nice little sort of background videos for –
Suzanne: Right, yeah.
Olli: They did for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier too.
Suzanne: “Legends,” I think it’s called.
Olli: Yes, yes, yes. And that’s so smart of them, and they’re so well done. And I’m a longtime diehard Kathryn Hahn fan, so I watch whatever she decides is worth her time. I’m happy to watch. So, I would have watched Wandavision, no matter what.
Suzanne: Yeah, she was great in that. And the thing about her was that, from the beginning, you know that something that’s going to be with her [is going to be good], because she wouldn’t have done it to just have this little bit part.
…Do you have anything else coming out that we should watch for?
Olli: No, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was sort of my finish line. I did an episode of Social Distance, Jenji Kohan’s quarantine series that came out at the end of last year, which I loved. So, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Social Distance were sort of the two things that were hovering around.
And I just got back to New York yesterday, and I’m enthusiastically auditioning for whatever the next job may be. I’m excited to find out.
Suzanne: I read that your father was a soccer star and that your grandfather was also a player. Did you ever play?
Olli: I did play a little bit. I suffered from the expectations of having a father like that. I mean, I really enjoyed playing, like in the backyard with my dad. That was really fun, but anytime it was more organized than that, there was always some sort of like, “I bet you’re really good at this” or something like that from a coach, which made it much less fun. You know, when you’re in second and third grade, that’s not what you want to hear. I mean, tennis was a little bit more the sport that I played a little more seriously for a while, but, yeah, I mean, I couldn’t deal with that weird sort of expectation when playing soccer, because my dad is and was phenomenal at it. So, yeah, very few people can measure up to that much less, you know, a third grader.
Suzanne: Well, thank you, and I hope you book some more things we can see you in.
Olli: Thank you. I hope so too.
Here is the video version of it.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Olli Hasskivi appears in the latest episode of “Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” Olli plays the name on everyone’s lips this week, Dr. Wilfred Nagel. He is the doctor responsible for the super soldier serum, having reverse-engineered Dr. Abraham Erskine’s (Stanley Tucci’s character in the franchise) serum. This was a pivotal episode and character for the series as the hunt for the super soldier serum is in full force, and Dr. Nagel comes face-to-face with Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Daniel Brühl (Zemo), Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter) and Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier) in his lab, who all want to know the truth.
For reference, Olli is a very talented “actors actor” based in NYC. He is chameleon who can truly play any role he feels passionately about (including teachers, a doctor, a villain, a waiter, etc. – you name it!) His film and TV credits include: “The Deuce”, “The Sinner”, “Manifest”, and “Oh Jerome, No,” plus the films Motherless Brooklyn directed by Edward Norton, The Miseducation of Bindu directed by Prarthana Mohan, and Nancy directed by Christina Choe. Olli has appeared in the off-Broadway premieres of Bella: An American Tall Tale (Playwrights Horizons), Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started The Iraq War (Actors Temple), and The Rafa Play (Flea Theatre).
Proofread and Edited by Brenda