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In Political Thriller ‘8 Months,’ Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: ‘We Were Pretending That Sweden Joined NATO, and Look at Us Now’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Based on the book by Magnus Montelius, Swedish series “8 Months” seemed more like a fantasy than political thriller. Not for long.

“I read this book on vacation and I was intrigued by the idea that you could use a political consultant to find a new foreign minister. The only problem was that it was about NATO. I thought: ‘Nobody cares about that,’” writer Jens Jonsson tells Variety at Series Mania.

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“I was skeptical, but we decided to take a gamble. Suddenly, we were pretending that Sweden joined NATO, that they were wondering if we should have nuclear weapons as well. [Broadcaster] TV4 agreed. After the show was greenlit, Ukraine was invaded by Russia and people started to ask: ‘Should we join?’ And look at us now.”

Sweden became a full member of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] ­on March 7, 2024. It now counts 32 countries among its members.

The producers have shared first-look photos with Variety.

“We had to do some serious changes also when shooting, because it just felt too small. Our reality felt more dangerous than our script! We had to significantly up the stakes,” explains Josefin Neldén.

In the show, she plays a struggling journalist Nina who gets the scoop of a lifetime. Riding the wave of her success, she becomes the press secretary for Sweden’s new foreign minister Jacob Weiss (August Wittgenstein). Soon, she starts to wonder if she has become a pawn in a game that threatens the country’s national security.

“I think she always knew something was off. It’s not a surprise. There was something odd about that revelation and about the man who gave it to her. She thinks she can manage it, but she doesn’t realize the magnitude of it all. It might not be that easy to get out,” says Neldén, also spotted in “The Restaurant” and “The Head.”

“Her mother was an acclaimed journalist and that’s what she was hoping for, too. I don’t think she ever saw herself in politics, but she always wanted to make it.”

Produced by Anagram Sweden and Beside Productions, “8 Months” was directed by Jonsson, who wrote alongside Henrik Thörnebäck Zammel and Jörgen Bergmark, and Johan Lundin. Newen Connect handles international sales.

According to Jonsson, Nina’s “narcissism” makes for an interesting protagonist.

“She’s confident, but not quite where she’s hoping to be. She always thinks she deserves more. Every time someone praises her, she is just beaming. There might be a bit of a taboo when it comes to depicting female characters who think very highly of themselves. To me, it’s just refreshing.”

“She has so much potential, obviously, but her personality prevents her from reaching it. If she would be given this position with any other minister, she would have failed once again. But not with Jacob. They need each other,” adds Neldén.

Despite eerie echoes of current events, their flaws and insecurities lead to some comical situations.

“Initially, we had even more scenes like that. There was so much humor in this script,” admits Neldén.

“There still is – and some physical comedy,” says Jonsson.

“One of my favorite scenes is when she is walking in one direction, sees an agent waiting for her and just turns around. It’s a weird thing to do – clearly, he can see her – but it’s also so human.”

“It’s a difficult thing, trying to figure out how far you can push it with humor. After the first edit, we had a ‘serious’ meeting with TV4. They said: ‘Are you aware we commissioned a thriller, not a comedy?’ I said: ‘Just wait. It will get darker’,” he laughs.

“People say that ‘humor doesn’t travel,’ but I felt this show could make you smile, even though it’s super local and we tried to be as accurate as possible. I wanted to keep it light at the beginning, because it’s also a fish-out-of-water story about this fucked up journalist. Later, we head straight into the new Cold War.”

And into even more absurd political power games.

“When you look at U.S. politics, for example, it’s really hard to tell if George W. Bush or Trump are really like this or is it just this persona they are creating. Do they know what they are talking about or are they following their instinct? Are they rehearsing these speeches? Is Trump a political genius or full-on mad narcissist who has been hurt and is taking it out on X (formerly Twitter)?,” wonders Jonsson, with Neldén adding:

“What I liked is that our ‘thriller’ part is not really about guns, murders and blood – it’s about politics. That’s the scary part. Especially this sinking feeling that it could be already happening. Right now.”

8 Months
8 Months

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