HBO Europe Greenlights 'Wilderness' From 'A Somewhat Gentle Man' Writer

Kim Fupz Aakeson
Pascal Le Segretain_Getty Images

Kim Fupz Aakeson will write the eight-part comedy-drama, set in a small Norwegian town, which 'Virgin Mountain' helmer Dagur Kari will direct.

HBO Europe has greenlit its second original production from Norway, giving an order to Utmark (Wilderness), an eight-part comedy-drama from  Kim Fupz Aakeson, an author and screenwriter whose credits include A Somewhat Gentle Man and In Order of Disappearance.

Aakeson will write all eight episodes of Wilderness, which follows the adventures of an optimistic new school teacher hoping for a fresh start who comes into a small, isolated Norwegian town in the middle of nowhere. But the locals  — including a corrupt sheriff, an alcoholic shepherd, a nature-loving bootlegger, a God-hating pastor and a grieving pimp — are not so open to outsiders. A series of events, triggered by a dog-savaged sheep, leads to a tale of revenge that entangles the entire town.

Aakeson is known for his skewed view of idyllic small town life and for combining dark humor with violence, as he did with A Somewhat Gentle Man and In Order of Disappearance — both of which were directed by Hans Petter Moland, who remade the latter in English as Cold Pursuit with Liam Neeson.

“Kim Fupz has created an original bunch of flawed yet wonderful characters living in a far-flung place where civilization is a choice rather than a given,” said Hanne Palmquist, commissioning editor and vp original programming, HBO Nordic. “Utmark is bold, at times totally hilarious — and human all the way.” 

Icelandic filmmaker Dagur Kari (Virgin Mountain, Noi the Albino) will direct the series, which will go out day-and-date across HBO Europe's footprint. Wilderness is produced by Finn Gjerdrum and Stein Kvae at Paradox and is an HBO Europe original production.

Shooting begins this summer in Norway. Hanne Palmquist, Steve Matthews and Antony Root are executive producing Wildness for HBO Europe.

HBO is bulking up its Nordic content, just this week launching its Scandinavian originals slate with the Swedish sitcom Gösta, from director Lukas Moodysson (Show Me Love). On Aug. 21, HBO Europe will premiere its first Norwegian original, the sci-fi comedy Beforeigners. The show, from Anne Bjornstad and Eilif Skodvin, creators of Netflix's Lilyhammer, sees strange refugees arrive in Oslo who turn out to be immigrants from the country's past.

HBO Europe has also greenlit an adaptation of Beartown, the novel from Swedish author Fredrik Backman (A Man Called Ove), which Peter Grönlund (Drifters, Goliath) will direct. The series, about a small ice-hockey-obsessed town torn apart by a violent act, is currently in production.