The Swedish drama will depict the detective entering the early stages of Alzheimer’s for the final series.
Speaking at a recent press conference, actor Kenneth Branagh has talked about the challenges of portraying someone with dementia in the latest and final series of Swedish detective drama, Wallander.
The ‘Scandi’ programme, which although in English, is set in Sweden, is about to air for the fourth and final series.
Oscar-winning actor Branagh took time to research dementia for the role so he could portray the symptoms accurately.
‘A lot of my research into the role came from just speaking to friends and family,’ said Branagh. ‘I’ve seen friends of friends in the early stages.
‘The beginning of it is often very subtle, and that’s what we try to convey in the series, that sometimes the identification of Alzheimer’s is in itself a detective story.
‘There are moments when the forgetfulness that we all suffer from, “where have I put my keys?” becomes “I’ve been in the front hall for 10 minutes not even knowing why I’m in the front hall”.’
‘Then somebody says “did you forget your keys?” and the person who is coming back into consciousness realises that’s what they were looking for and, weirdly, a brain that has slowed down is now racing as it instinctively chooses to cover up and make excuses for its actions.
‘And there’s that sensitive, eggshell-walking atmosphere that surrounds that behaviour because it’s not easy for someone to say “you’ve got dementia”.’
The 55-year-old is best known for his portrayals of Shakespearean heroes such as Hamlet and Henry V, as well as being a celebrated director. However, his portrayal of Kurt Wallander has garnered much praise and has been nominated for a TV BAFTA and Primetime Emmy.
Speaking further on the effect that Alzheimer’s can have on people, Branagh adds,
‘Of course, it’s often not them who is suffering, it’s their loved ones. That moment when they ask, “Are you my daughter?” It’s entirely pragmatic and necessary from the person suffering from dementia, it’s a genuine question.
‘But it must be very distressing for the person being asked, to know that represents how far they’ve been away.’
The new series of Wallander will air on Sunday 22 May on BBC1.