Mia – May 28, 2019

Like 19.3 million other Americans, my husband and I tuned into the final episode of “Game of Thrones” earlier this month. We taped it, of course, because nothing about GOT is suitable for children as young as our Jake, Astrid and Alex, but that just made it seem more like a date night—and I’ll take those whenever I can get them.

My husband, John, had read George R.R. Martin’s books on which the series is based, so he was all in from the beginning, and I eventually joined him, although the graphic violence of the series took some getting used to. Let’s just say, I got really good at removing my glasses at opportune times. In all, there were 71 “Game of Thrones” episodes, and it took me until at least Episode 35 before I realized that one of my favorite (if very flawed) characters, Jaime Lannister, was played by a native Dane.

It was John who alerted me to this fact, knowing how much I love my Danish roots. He has spent far too much time over the years researching the series and actors and learned that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (see top photo) was born in Rudkøbing, Denmark. By Season Six, Coster-Waldau was joined by another Dane, Pilou Asbaek, in the role of Euron Greyjoy. Imagine my shock and awe when, in the penultimate episode “The Bells,” (spoiler alert!) the two Danes went mano-a-mano and dealt death blows to each other.

As an American, I’m used to “foreign” actors being Brits, as were most of the “Game of Thrones” cast. But a little research indicates that Danish actors have figured prominently in popular American films, including Danish-born Connie Nielson of “Gladiator” and “Wonder Woman” remake fame and Viggo Mortensen, half Danish on his father’s side, who was nominated for a 2019 Academy Award for “Green Book” as well as “Captain Fantastic” in 2017 and “Eastern Promises” in 2007.

An image of Green Book used during the Jim Crow days.

Danish actor Viggo Mortensen was nominated for a 2019 Academy Award for his performance in “Green Book,” a film titled after a travel guide that informed people of color where they could stay during the Jim Crow days.

I was surprised to learn that actress Scarlett Johansson also has a Danish connection—her father, the Danish architect Karsten Olaf Johansson. If you’re looking for actors of Danish extraction, the list goes on and on and includes Jessica Alba, Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen and Peter Sarsgaard.

None of these actors are familiar to my friend Farfar, who lives at The Danish Home. But he knew one name in an article I waved in front of him. “I remember Osa Masson,” he said with a smile. “She was lovely and a very good actress.”

“When was the last time you saw a Danish-language film?” I asked him.

“Well, I haven’t had many opportunities in the past 50 years,” he said.

“That’s probably a good thing. I’ve been reading that many Danes have so much trouble understanding the mumbling dialog of Danish movies that 10 percent of  Denmark’s moviegoers have opted to attend subtitled screenings.

“We don’t have that problem with our movies at The Danish Home,” Farfar said.

“I think poor enunciation has been a problem in recent years,” I said. “That surely wasn’t a problem when we watched “Babette’s Feast” together.

“Such a good movie,” Farfar said about the 1987 film based on a story by Danish writer Isaak Dineson, also known as Karen Blixen.

Our shared interest in the arts is one of the reasons Farfar and I have become such good friends. Farfar loves The Danish Home’s current movies on Saturdays and monthly Danish movies, provided by the Danish American Athletic Club, as well as channel 11’s Sunday series. Farfar is also entertained by The Danish Home’s many outings to Chicago museums. And he and I were both pleased to learn of The Danish Home’s new sponsorship of the Park Ridge Fine Arts Society.

In June, we’re looking forward to seeing a ballet performance from Kompagni B, a company of 23 young dancers, aged 14 to 16, from the Royal Danish Ballet School. The performances will be held in several locations in Chicago between June 11 and 20.

And although it doesn’t necessary qualify as fine art, I’m planning on joining a couple of friends and their relatives at a Wednesday lunch between now and the end of June at The Danish Home. The “Nosh and Knowledge” events are open to anyone who would like to learn more about this wonderful, homey, artistically inclined community. Join us, and we can dish about our favorite Danish actors and films.

Delicious lunch food accompanies a flyer entitled "Come See What We're Cooking Up at The Danish Home of Chicago."

The Danish Home invites everyone to learn more about life and entertainment at The Danish Home, along with a delicious, complimentary lunch, on Wednesdays beginning May 29 through the month of June.

One last thing: anyone who has seen The Danish Home’s delightful smørrebrød from Chef Roger knows that food can definitely be art! Join us at Summerfest 2019 on June 22, too, when we’ll feast on his beautifully decorated Danish open-faced sandwiches and enjoy “A Little Country in the City”!