“Nobody wanted to touch it. Finally, I thought fuck it, I’m going to make it myself.”
STORY BY: AISLING O’LEARY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: BERSA
Rafael Edholm has the ability to, with the flick of a switch, go from zany & kooky to super intense focused and even broody. It’s no wonder he’s been to switch effortlessly from award winning comedies to the same in the thriller category and most often while player multiple roles of producer/director/actor.
Sometimes great things are born out of terrible ideas. Do you remember the film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Awful. The TV series? A cult phenomenon. It is exactly this – “a bad idea that I had years ago that I couldn’t let go of” – that lies behind Rafael Edholm Borchies television series ‘Veni Vidi Vici’. As the latest international series to be picked up by Hulu, it was included in the 2017 Cannes Official Selection and is set to air in the U.S at the beginning of March. Meaning “I came, I saw, I conquered”, the show is based on a filmmaker, Karsten (played by Thomas Bo Larsen) who, upon realizing his art is not going to be a box-office success anytime soon, is forced to get a real, paying job. And so he turns to the porn industry. After a somewhat noble effort working at his father-in-law’s meat factory, Karsten eventually succumbs to his friend’s offer to bring his artistic vision to the erotic world.
Edholm Borchies writes, directs, produces and co-stars in the show. He says it was the only way to get it made. “I shopped the idea around to producers for ten years. Nobody wanted to touch it. Finally, I thought fuck it, I’m going to make it myself. So I produced and directed a pilot and eventually a channel (MTG/Via Play Original) got back to me saying ‘we want it, but on the condition that you do it exactly the way you’ve done it. Meaning that you write, produce, direct and act in the show.’ It was amazing to hear those words.” Playing Vinny, Karsten’s former film school classmate who forewent art for porn, Edholm Borchies nails the sleazy porn-producer type with his orange-tinted aviators, dodgy dealings and a knack for soothing Karsten’s ego. Using the porn business as an extreme world to pit his characters against, we see “normal people dealing with normal problems” – including marriage issues, money qualms, snide friends – which makes the show relatable to viewers.
The former model got his start in the acting world when he was 17 years old, performing as a sword bearer in the much-lauded Ingmar Bergmann production of ‘King Lear’ at Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theatre. After two years, he decided to leave for the U.S to pursue his acting ambitions, where he joined the Actor’s Studio and auditioned as much as possible. Various opportunities, however, led him to become a ‘Gucci hobo’ as he put it, travelling the world as a model and putting his acting dreams on hold. “I think I was afraid to reach success at an early age. I saw so many young actors [in the 80’s] ruining their lives with too much early success. I said to myself that if I still wanted to do this, I’ll do it when I turn 30 and have some life experience behind me. I knew that I’d appreciate any acting opportunity much more at that point.” Sure enough, six months after his return to Sweden, he was approached by Danish Oscar award-winning director Susanne Bier at a party to audition for a role in her new film. The film in question ‘The One and Only’ turned out to be one of Denmark’s biggest successes.
Edholm Borchies is looking forward to taking the series to the next level. He’s in the middle of setting up season two which will be shot, if things goes as planned, partly in the US. As a show that derives a little bit from the Swedish filmmaker’s personal experience – like Karsten, Edholm Borchies once directed a film that didn’t get the appreciation he thought it deserved – did he too consider entering the porn industry? “No, but I did think I might as well go poor if my art can’t thrive.”
Rafael channels his innate Jim Carey in the above and following two photographs.
Cashmere hat by Paul & Friends. Vintage storm rider jacket by Lee Jeans. Pullover sweater by grey pullover Zadig Voltaire.
Despite a natural predisposition for the mad-capped Rafael is equally adept at writing, directing, and starring in more serious material.
Black turtleneck by Ljung. Vintage watch by Rolex. Jeans by Black Denim. Boots by YSL.