Swedish pop singer-songwriter Tove Lo is set to make her acting debut in The Emigrants from Swedish film company SF Studios, Billboard can confirm.

Norwegian film director Erik Poppe will forsee the 2021 adaptation of Vilhelm Moberg’s 1950s The Emigrants novel series, “which chronicle the one and a half million Swedes who sought a better life across the Atlantic in the mid-19th century,” according to the Deadline exclusive. The “Habits (Stay High)” singer will star as Ulrika, but she’s not the only pop star to do so.

Fellow Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund portrayed Ulrika in the 1971 film adaptation, which was nominated for five Oscars in 1972 and in 1973, including Best Picture in the latter year.

“To me this is an almost unreal feeling, getting to play the role of Ulrika and to work with such an amazing director, incredible actors, and a truly great team,” Lo said in a press release. “Ulrika is a strong outspoken character who stands up for herself and refuses to be pushed around. But there is also a lot of pain and vulnerability there. It is an honor to portray her! All this being a completely new experience is of course a bit nerve wrecking but incredibly exciting!”

Deadline reported the 32-year-old artist (real name Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson) recently traveled out of the U.S. to Sweden for filming, which she wasn’t too worried about in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Swedes are good at social distancing but they’ve clearly taken a different approach that I’m not sure would work in other places,” she told Deadline. “I don’t really know how I feel but all the meetings/rehearsals so far around the film have been very careful and I trust the team to make sure we all follow the rules.”

Lo has previously co-produced, co-wrote and starred in her own short films Fairy Dust and Fire Fade, which were released in 2016 and 2017, respectively, to coincide as the first and second “chapters” (consisting of six songs each) of her sophomore album Lady Wood. 

“We have an impressive cast and Tove Lo is a fantastic choice for the role of Ulrika,” Poppe said in a statement. “Ulrika is one of the most engaging characters in Moberg’s novel series and I am convinced that she will take on the part exceptionally. By getting to know the female characters and the relationships between Kristina, Ulrika and Judit, we get a new perspective in the understanding of The Emigrants journey, which I think will bring new dimensions to this well-known story.”

The Emigrants adds itself to the list of high-profile projects helmed by the century-old SF Studios, following its first international feature film production Horizon Line, the Nordic co-production Margrete Queen Of The North and the Swedish original series Snabba Cash (Easy Money) for Netflix.

The Emigrants is a timeless tale of love, sorrow, adventure and what we call home. It’s a classic story that never fades. We would not be doing the books justice if we didn’t have the ambition to make this project the major Swedish film of the decade. Kristina and Karl Oskar’s story will take audiences on a life-changing journey as we see the love and struggle they undergo when they embark together to start life over again in America, and Ulrika has a central role to play in telling this story,” said SF Studios producer Fredrik Wikström Nicastro in the release. “I am convinced that Tove Lo will be unforgettable in this role and give a unique and compelling new interpretation of this amazing character.”

SF Studios will begin production in the Western part of Sweden next month. It will also distribute the feature in the Nordics, while REInvent International Sales will handle international sales.

The Emigrants will premiere on Christmas Day (Dec. 25) 2021.


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