Looking for Mushrooms with Christina Lindberg
| Swedish heart-stopper Christina Lindberg was one of the 70’s biggest sexual icons. In her short career as an actress she managed to travel around the globe to star in some of the greatest exploitation movies of all time; Thriller: A Cruel Picture and Sex & Fury being highly prominent features. A hugely popular model she gained the attention of millions of male readers and proved to be a defining face of that decade, with her youthful and innocent looking qualities. At the beginning of the 80’s she left cinema screens, but what became of her? Well I was lucky enough, and honoured, to have spoken recently with Christina via telephone and I asked her about her career and what she’s been doing recently with her time. The following is a transcript of our conversation.
[Kevin Gilvear]: Firstly, Christina I’d like to thank you for doing this because I’ve not seen you do many interviews; you seem to have kept pretty quiet these days.
[Christina Lindberg]: Yes when it comes to my old movies I haven’t talked with people very much. But it’s a little bit funny because it’s almost, when people get in contact with me for my past it’s always from abroad, from England, Germany, USA or other parts of the world – not Sweden (laughs). That’s typical isn’t it?
[KG]: Well yea because some of your films, which we’ll get to later, are only just starting to come out on DVD in Sweden too: Exposed for example. And some of them, it’s interesting because recently with the resurgence in exploitation, Kill Bill especially, your films have suddenly received lots of attention on DVD and Tarantino has said how much he admires you.
[CL]: Yes I know, it’s fantastic, but the funny thing is is that it’s been written about abroad but in Sweden, you know, it’s very quiet. They don’t write about those kinds of movies, almost not at all. On the other hand they showed Rötmånad two weeks ago (beginning of Feb ’06) on Swedish television, and they do sometimes, about five times now I think, and people get very excited you know? They mail me and they phone me and it’s from eighteen to sixty years old (laughs). Men of course.
[KG]: Of course. So then does that mean, obviously they’re made in Sweden, but until recently just didn’t get spoken about over there?
[CL]: Yes but you know, not in that way. We’re not so many people in this country. But you know, some people are, as you probably know yourself are very interested in those kinds of films. So I have some people that phone me to ask me things and they seem to know more about me than I know myself (laughs).
[KG]: I suppose because the interest comes from the fact that they don’t really make films like this anymore. There’s a curiosity.
[CL]: No, I know. It was some years between ’70 and ’75, and then it disappeared.
[KG]: Yea, and even today most of your films aren’t widely available – how many films did you make? Twenty, little more than twenty?
[CL]: Yes, something around twenty.
[KG]: And probably only Thriller, Sex & Fury and Swedish Wildcats, very few are on DVD aside from bootlegs. I think because of how Kill Bill seemed to have got more people interested, you know, companies like Synapse were starting to use that to sell your films and now they’re acquiring more. Now you have a new generation of young people who are going to be seeing these films for the first time. That must make you feel pretty good.
[CL]: It’s fantastic because as you say I have a lot of admirers, around twenty (laughs) who do not need me today. Hard to remember me, you know, from the 70’s.
[KG]: That’s what’s amazing, because you definitely are one of those people who others do just seem to remember.
[CL]: Yes, it’s strange, a little bit strange (laughs).
[KG]: Actually, in fact if we go back to your early days now, obviously you started out originally as a model. Right? How old were you then? Sixteen/seventeen?
| [CL]: Erm, I think I was around seventeen or eighteen. It wasn’t as early as sixteen. I think I took some photos for a guy who was studying photography and he took some black and white, and you know, people, you know – I understood it was something special. Because you never know yourself about your own look, you don’t understand when you are that young. You do not understand, but you know I didn’t have to pay in clubs at all and we had a teenage circus in Gothenburg, I’m born in Gothenburg. I was a Go-Go girl there and I had people around me all the time in some ways, so I was going to clubs a lot and I was always taking care of myself. My whole life I had grown up with my mother and three children – two brothers and one sister. And I always took care of myself, did my own business. But I was also very fond of school, that was something I liked, but on the other hand I liked to go out to clubs and dance and it was a photographer from one of the biggest magazines in Sweden who saw me dancing at a famous club in Gothenburg and then he told me, you know, he asked me if I could take some photos. I could be the one girl from Gothenburg and he was supposed to take photos from, we were about five girls, and then he took photos and they published it, and I was on the cover and I was the fold-out.
[KG]: And were they naked photographs?
[CL]:Yes, they were half-naked. The cover was actually only my face, I had a lot of fold out face (laughs). That’s a fact. Probably because I looked like an innocent child or something.
[KG]: Well definitely yea, because even when you were twenty three/twenty four you just had that look that enabled you to play these sixteen year old girls.
[CL]: I looked like a lost child. (laughs)
[KG]: Yea, you had a real puppy dog look.
[CL]: But that’s something, you know, I was very shy. I was very shy and it seems a little bit odd when I take off my clothes and such, but I was very shy.
[KG]: Really? It’s interesting because I wanted to ask when you become involved in photographs if that came with promises that you were going to be famous? Because it seems to be the case with many young girls who start out in a similar fashion.
[CL]: No no, I didn’t have those kind of dreams you know? I had grown up in rather poor circumstances. I didn’t have any dreams at all. I was rather clever in school (laughs as if that was a surprise). No dreams but you know I had decided not to stay in my poor surroundings. I wanted something else for my life, that was for sure, but I didn’t know anything about being famous. When I did those fold-out pictures and I was on the cover they were looking for a girl for this Rötmånad, this movie.
[KG]: Well that’s what I wanted to ask you about next. Because -
[CL]: I can explain, I can go on (laughs).
[KG]: Please do.
[CL]: Yea, and they had already photographed about four hundred/five hundred girls for the movie, because they were going to sell the movie and it was important to get the right look. You didn’t have to be good in acting, the look was the important thing. And then the producer saw this magazine that I was in in Gothenburg and then he said “That’s the girl, there she is”. And I went up to Stockholm and I took some photos, but they didn’t care what I did. I was no good as an actress at all, but they thought it was marvellous you know. So yea, then I got the part and I went to Stockholm two days after graduating school.
[KG]: Oh and how old were you then?
[KG]: So you didn’t go to college or university?
[CL]: No I didn’t. I stopped after, you call in Sweden, Gymnasium. First of all you read for nine years and then you read three more years. I read Latin for example, and that was my choice.
[KG]: Ah, and so that film (Rötmånad), did it do really well then?
[CL]: Yes, I got a lot of attention really.
[KG]: And then once in that profession did you continue to model for photographs?
[CL]: Yes I did. I was on every cover of every man’s magazine in Sweden. People were very upset and crazed.
[KG]: I was looking for some pictures of on you online and I found an old record on eBay for some Swedish greatest hits, and you’re even on the cover for that.
[CL]: (Laughs) Yes I was all over the place. Magazines, newspapers, and that’s the funny thing you know. The world wasn’t like how it is today. Maybe that’s why people remember me still, because in those magazines and on the TV channels there weren’t so many, and people say to me that “you are my youth, I remember you. You’re Christina Lindberg”. You know? They remember me. It’s very strange.
[KG]: But flattering I’m sure.
[CL]: Yes it’s really flattering.
[KG]: So I presume that you just had a really great fondness, you really enjoyed what you were doing at that time? Because I always found in your films that you eased into your roles and feel comfortable doing whatever in these exploitation films.
[CL]: Yea. But I also tried to, in some ways I was always a little bit serious in my way of acting. I tried to find something deep, more deep than just being naked.
[KG]: But would the directors actually let you do that? Was it specifically –
[CL]: I do not think they cared. They just cared if I took off my clothes and looked innocent.
[KG]: So did that ever get too repetitive, you know doing the same thing?
[CL]: Yes in some ways, because I wanted to do something more. I wanted to show that I was a real person, if you understand what I mean?
[KG]: No I definitely do. I mean if you’re doing something like that and you want to pursue acting and you feel that you have more to offer then I can totally understand. Which I suppose made Thriller ideal.
[CL]: Exactly. Exactly. That’s correct. You know Thriller I thought “Here’s something extra”, for me. And I didn’t care about the violence. I never thought about it because I’m not very fond of violence, not at all (laughs), but I thought it was very very different from the other movies I had made up to that.
| [KG]: So to start with we’ll talk about Thriller for a bit, which for me really is a beautiful film. It’s a nasty film but it’s filmed in a really wonderful way, you know the cinematographer Andreas Bellis really seemed to bring out a lot of that innocence and quaintness about your character and where she was living. Aside from making the countryside look so pretty there’s that contrast against the violence and when it comes to the physical side, with you, there’s a lot of slowing down, a lot of emphasis on you in close ups, the stunts, the fighting. How much of a physical challenge was that?
[CL]: Yes, for example I was trained in Karate during the two months that Thriller was made.
[KG]: So you actually took Karate lessons for two months straight?
[CL]: Yea, one of the policemen in the movie, Jan Kreigsman, he was my personal trainer then and he took care of my body (laughs).
[KG]: Because I notice there’s so many scenes in that film where there doesn’t appear to be any stunt doubles. Everything I see seems to be done by yourself, in close up, such as driving and fighting. Did you do everything by yourself? It certainly looks real on screen.
[CL]: Yea, I did everything myself except for those sex scenes (laughs). It’s not me.
[KG]: Ah yes, we’ll talk about those shortly.
[CL]: Yes, but the driving is funny because it was on an island that we did those scenes, and you know I didn’t have a driver’s licence. The police man on this island, he was down on the floor and I said “I’m not used to this kind of car”, so he had to push the stick all the time for me, because I couldn’t do that myself.
[KG]: That’s brilliant.
[CL]: Yes, because I just drove the car and he was helping me on the floor.
[KG]: Wow, did that ever get scary?
[CL]: No. When you are young you do not think in those ways, you know you just do it.
[KG]: But you have your licence now I take it?
[CL]:. Yea, yea. You know I live in the countryside, so I must have one.
[KG]: So if we talk about Madeleine then, I suppose because you wanted to do something different, this is a character that is interesting because she does go through a lot. She gets trodden on, treated like dirt, but she fights back which always proves to be her real strength. Was that something that really drew you to the role?
[CL]: No, I don’t remember in that way. The funny thing was that today, you know, if that kind of character was around the film critics would really like that kind of woman. But those days it was not good at all.
[KG]: I suppose in those days it was because it was only about exploitation. The whole point was to do that kind of thing to the woman. But recently Kill Bill turned things around and played on that female revenge motif again.
[KG]: I think today though that you can, even if they weren’t as self conscience during the time they were made, you can view them today and see that there is a case for feminism. Watching Thriller today I think it does work because Madeleine does exact her revenge against those who tried to ruin her.
[CL]: But you know those women in the 70’s, they didn’t like me at all.
[CL]: No, of course not. I was everything that was bad in society. I show my naked body, you know?
[KG]: Yes but that’s, to me, that’s part of the sympathetic side. You’re forced into those situations, your character is forced into being naked. I thought that although it might be a bit too much to label her a role model there’s a definite heroine figure there. You go to Hell and back. I’m very surprised hearing you say that.
[CL]: Well, Christina Lindberg was loved by men but not by women.
[KG]: That’s amazing. So when it came to portraying Madeleine, I always found it interesting that she was a mute. Obviously at the time you weren’t strictly an actor, so -
[CL]: No, and to be honest Vibenius, he understood that I wasn’t. That was his genius.
[KG]: So he tailored that for you?
[CL]: He told me that I was no actress. I knew myself, of course that I was mute in that movie, but it was a very good thing.
[KG]: So that was deliberate? He wrote you as a mute?
[CL]: Yea. And I think it was perfect.
[KG]: Definitely, and I think because you don’t speak it means that you have to try different ways of acting. So how did that test you? I mean what frame of mind does that put you in? Because now you have to use your physical side.
[CL]: Yes, I think I could concentrate more on that kind of thing, which I was good with. I was good in giving emotions to the viewers by moving my body. My eyes, you know, it’s my weapon in some movies.
[KG]: Oh yea! The thing that stands out with you on camera is your eyes. Definitely the way in which you physically carry yourself.
[CL]: Yes it was perfect for me to be in Thriller.
[KG]: Now this is something that kind of upsets me, and I’m sure it upset you, but because of how well you use your body language and your eyes to convey your emotions, when it comes to the famous inserts, you know there are several close ups of your face and you do a really good job of selling that torment, which is why I never understood why Vibenius put in those sex scenes.
[CL]: No it’s - all people say the same, as you do. I do not understand it either, but it’s some kind of black out.
[KG]: So when you were doing those he never told you that he was going to put them in?
[CL]: No I do not think that I wanted to understand that he was going to do such a thing, you know? Because I really would like to do this part so anxiously. I even got paid very badly for this movie, I got very small money for my part.
[KG]: It’s a shame because I do think they’re bad, I personally skip through them on the DVD because I don’t think they do anything. I’ve read reviews from some critics who say that these scenes greatly emphasise just how bad the situation is, but I strongly disagree. I think they’re too gratuitous. When they show your face close up, that to me emphasis it plenty. But those scenes are just bad porn and it’s totally unnecessary. They’re just filmed so badly that I have a hard time believing that he directed them.
[CL]: OK, yes I understand.
[KG]: Because what’s more frustrating is that he nails the rest of it. There’s so many nice scenes, and one of my favourites is when, remember when you first escape from Heinze Hopv? And you run out in the yellow dress and fall to the ground. That takes us right back to the first scene when you’re a little girl in a yellow dress and this is the same thing happening over again. That was just brilliant. In many ways I think he was genius, but I think he went a little crazy at some point.
[CL]: Yea, but I think he was a little bit frustrated at this time. Before he had made a movie for children, which was very brilliant and he got nice words for that movie, and then he made this movie and no critics understood anything.
[KG]: So with those scenes added in, and as you said earlier you weren’t very popular with the female audience, did you ever get any bad feedback? Did people think it was really you?
[CL]: No. Not one. Nobody thought it was me. And the film was shown in Sweden for only one week. Then it disappeared, went to other countries.
[KG]: OK, well I’ll ask about that in a moment, but I just want to get to the other famous scene in the film – the gruesome eyeball scene. Now I’ve heard the rumour that a real corpse was used for the shot where you have your left eye gouged out. So I’m curious of course. How was that achieved? Is there any truth to the rumour?
[CL]: Yes, it’s true. It was a young girl that had committed suicide and Vibenius, he used one of the biggest hospitals in Sweden. And they made it you know. They just put some mascara on the eyes.
[KG]: That’s quite shocking. How did he actually get the body? Did he just walk in, ask for permission?
[CL]: Probably with some kind of permission from a doctor or something like that. I really don’t know how he could, and I have been asked by many people connected with this situation and everyone says that’s just the way it was.
[KG]: It makes you wonder about the poor girl’s family.
[CL]: Yes, but you can’t really see that it’s a different girl.
[KG]: No, it’s well done. It’s just so quick, but it’s one of those things that make me wince. It’s really uncomfortable. So in light of that scene and the sex scenes the film was subsequently banned in Sweden, the first film to be banned in Sweden. It didn’t make much money.
[CL]: Not in Sweden.
[KG]: But it was picked up for international distribution. So by then how did that affect you as an actress, and the director? Did things slow down and become difficult?
[CL]: No, not really. After Thriller I made some movies outside of Sweden. Today it’s very common for people to go abroad and make movies but at that time it was a little bit unusual. But I’ve always taken care of myself, so I could travel.
[KG]: Because you went to Germany and Japan.
[CL]:Yes, after Thriller I made some small and strange movies.
[KG]: I wanted to ask you, because just before Thriller, in keeping in with the different roles you wanted to do you did Anita with Stellen Skarsgard and that offered up something a little unique for you also.
[CL]: Anita I made in ’73, so that was after Thriller. I was twenty two.
[KG]: Oh, I always thought it came just after
[CL]: No because after Thriller I made Mädchen and Fanny Hill and then I made Sex & Fury.
(That’s the IMDB for you folks)
[KG]: So that was you just continually challenging yourself?
[KG]: So if I can just finish up on Thriller, you did go back and play Madeleine again in a small cameo, which was in 2000 I believe?
[CL]: Yes! Yes, it was a funny thing.
[KG]: So the film was Sex, lögner och videovål, which I haven’t seen but I checked the IMDB and the list of characters is amazing. I mean there’s Robocop, Ninja turtles, Leatherface. How –
[CL]: I haven’t seen it either (laughs).
[KG]: Really? Can you remember anything about returning to your character though?
[CL]: No it was, I did some scenes during one hour. I was dressed exactly like Madeleine, with the eye patch and the weapon, and I went to a movie saloon. I went into a door. I do not know what I did, I don’t remember. It was a very short thing, I went out, you know, very rapidly against a car which I got in front of. It didn’t make any sense for me.
[KG]: Well it sounds like the whole film doesn’t make much sense.
[CL]: No, no. So I really don’t know how they used this but I think they told me that we were going to do something violent and ugly. So it was alright by me.
[KG]: Alright then, so if we can go back to your time in Japan. Now you made two films in 1973 - Sex & Fury and The Porn star Travels Around Japan. So this was before Thriller correct?
[CL]: No this was after.
| [KG]: Really? This was after as well? Right I need to get a new source of info. So Norifumi Suzuki who directed you in Sex & Fury. You know he has such an amazing eye for detail. When I watch that film, every scene you’re in, he just adores you. He composes and lights you really well. Did you find that experience in Japan largely different than elsewhere, and working with such a famous director?
[CL]: The funny thing is I didn’t know that he was famous before you just told me. I had no idea at all. But I liked him very much, he was a very kind person.
[KG]: He made some brilliant exploitation films, and he’s very highly regarded and still knocking about today. He’s retired now.
[CL]: Yes I liked him very much, and you know for this Exposed which I’ll tell you the story for before we do the Japanese experience I was down in Cannes and they spread pictures of me all over the world, and also Japan I presume. And then some months after I was on my way from Paris, where I had been a fold-out girl in “Lui”, which is a French play mate magazine. And so I was on the plane and I was going back to Stockholm, and when I walked into the cabin two Japanese men came to my place and said “Are you travelling?” and I said yes, and they asked me if I wanted to work in Japan. So yea, “why not” I said, “why not”. So I said, here you have my address and telephone number, you can contact me in Sweden in a few days. And they did.
[KG]: So did Suzuki personally request you? Did he see your pictures?
[CL]: I really don’t know. It was the Toei company, one of the biggest movie makers in Japan. Those men were probably just some workers, who were involved in the direction or something. And they asked me if I wanted to go over and so on and then I spoke to a Japanese girl who was living with a Swedish man, and she was going to go with me to translate, you know? Because people in Japan at that time didn’t speak English. So she translated all the time. I went over there by myself, as I used to do (laughs), and then I made first of all this movie Sex & Fury and then I made another movie also. Then they asked me if I could work for the Toei company when that was over, if I could stay in Japan. It was very easy for me to work with Japanese people.
[KG]: So how long did you stay in Japan for?
[CL]: Two and a half months, or something. In Kyoto.
[KG]: I recently reviewed Sex & Fury, last year, and again I talked about how you were effective physically, but when it comes to dialogue, speaking English, this is like your second language?
[CL]: Yes in some ways.
[KG]: That’s gotta be a struggle, you know trying to speak English while also being directed by a Japanese man. So was that the first time you spoke English on film?
[CL]: No, actually I spoke English in those kind of German movies. They, how do you say, put it in Germany. They don’t want any English spoken freely.
[KG]: So they dubbed it?
[CL]: Yes, yes. But first of all my first movie wasn’t Rötmånad, it was a film called Maid in Sweden, and it was an American movie, with people from the US putting money into it, but it had Swedish actors. In that movie, it was my first movie and I was still in school. I spoke English in that movie.
[KG]: So was that something you studied in school?
[CL]: Yes I had read it at school. All people do in Sweden.
[KG]: So alright, you had a bit of an understanding in Japan. When you were there working on those films was there anything specifically different in the way they handled their material?
[CL]: Well everything in Japan is different, it’s an upside down world (laughs).
[KG]: Yea I know. And by then they were already well into exploitation movies and they had “Pinky Violence”, “Roman Porno” and all kinds of violent Yakuza films. I was just curious as to what that was like, the differences between working in Japan, compared to say, Sweden or Germany.
[CL]: Well it was very different because they handled me like a movie star really.
[KG]: Because they have that kind of respect?
[CL]: Yea, and you know at the time, they hired, I was a smoker and they’d put a light to my cigarette and they did everything. I could ask for anything and they did everything for me. They treated me like a queen. It was fantastic.
[KG]: So that was probably one of your fondest experiences?
[CL]: Yes, it was fantastic, and you know when they asked me if I could stay in Japan and if I could think about doing more movies for Toei I really thought about it a lot. So I could be a Japanese girl by now (laughs).
[KG]: That’s really nice. I mean I’ve been to Japan myself and I’ve found it to be amazing. It’s like another world isn’t it?
[CL]: Yes it is, but to be honest I think it was a little special because I was treated so marvellously. So if I would live like an ordinary person I do not think I, you know, it wouldn’t be like that.
[KG]: I’m sure over there you must still be very popular.
[CL]: I don’t know. I have some Japanese readers of my magazine (laughs). They are some of my old fans.
[KG]: So after those films and Thriller you began to slow down a little bit.
[CL]: Yes I made a movie called, from the same director who did Exposed, he made a movie with the work name “Split Apple”. I think it was called “Dead Partners” or something. I did it after these Japanese movies, and then I did Anita.
[KG]: But it seemed like when you did Thriller and Sex & Fury, you know personally they feel like your best years.
[CL]: Yes, maybe Rötmånad also.
[KG]: I haven’t seen that film. I hope they release it.
[CL]: Oh it’s very Swedish. It had great actors, not me (laughs).
[KG]: But toward the end of the 70’s and definitely the early 80’s you just really didn’t do that much, and then you just seemed to, well disappear I suppose. I think a lot of fans are curious as to why you just stopped making movies.
[CL]: Well, in the beginning of ’74 I was asked by a French company and a Swedish company, that the same man who made Anita would like to have me in this film, and I got the main part because the French company wanted me in the main part. So I made some good movies and I got rather popular at that time, but to be honest I got a boyfriend who was very jealous. This was my husband later, and he was a girl photographer, and he took care of my career. He almost forbid me to act, and at that time I was a little bit unsure and I didn’t feel so good. I had done a lot and I was feeling a little bit tired. Then I was working on a fold-out girl magazine and I could make those pictures myself because I had a name and I could start doing any picture that I wanted myself and the magazines bought it. It was a good situation for my boyfriend. Today I have a lot of marvellous pictures of myself that I’m the owner of, because the man I was living with, I lived with him for thirty two years and he died two years ago.
[KG]: Yes I was aware of that, but I didn’t want to ask you because I thought that might be upsetting.
[CL]: Yes he was a very good man (Bo Sehlberg), but when he was young he was a marvellous gent, a fantastic human being.
[KG]: And if we stay on that subject he did a book called “This is Christina” (published Jan ’73). I found it, well I didn’t find it because it’s hard to get, but was that just a photography book? What kind of book was that?
| [CL]: Well that was the year I met him. We just made this book you know, and then, it’s hard to explain. But then I was his private model in some way. He thought.
[KG]: So by then when you stopped doing films, was it still something you wanted to do at the same time?
[CL]: Well, then I thought that maybe it was better to be a serious actress instead. So I took a lot of theatre lessons who taught some famous actors in Sweden and I went to the school and they told me “You are very good, but you have to stop doing those kinds of pictures and so on. You’ll have to go to this school otherwise we can’t use you”. But you know, you have to show up three times to go to that school in front of a jury and I was good two of those times but the third time I failed.
[CL]: Yea, so then after that I went to a school for journalists.
[KG]: Right, so this brings me to asking you, after you left, how have you been keeping yourself busy? You got into journalism?
[CL]: Yes then I wrote articles for big monthly and weekly magazines and my boyfriend still took pictures of me with famous people in town for example, when I interviewed them naked. And then my boyfriend, he took private lessons and he was crazy about flying.
[KG]: So then that got you into Flygrevyn, your magazine. When would that have been, the early ‘80s?
[CL]: Yes it was around ’80- he took flying lessons in the beginning of the ‘70s, so he was a very, very good pilot. He also worked as a photographer and a journalist. So he took his aeroplane and went out with girls and he interviewed people and took photos and so on. And I stay and waste my time (laughs).
[KG]: So was it he who set up Flygrevyn? Was it his company?
[CL]: Yea, and the Swedish - (She pauses). Oh I have two reindeers outside just now.
[KG]: Wow really?
[CL]: A small one and a big one. Awww, you know I see them often, aww fantastic.
[KG]: That’s amazing. I wish I had a view like that.
[CL]: Aww it’s fantastic. They’re so pretty. Excuse me. And, we got this magazine and worked together with a pilot organisation in Sweden and then we bought the magazine in the beginning of 1990. Then I took over as chief editor and he worked on other things you know. He was a marvellous journalist, and people say I’m a rather good journalist.
[KG]: So at that point when he was getting into aviation, is that when your enthusiasm for it came about as well?
[CL]: To be honest Kevin I’m not too enthusiastic about aviation, but I love people in aviation because people are very different and funny and so on, you know? My passion in life is nature.
[KG]: Interesting, because I wanted to ask you about that. Aside from Flygrevyn you’re very much into other kinds of journalism and I’m not quote sure what you’ve done but I came across something which you made in 1993 called Christina’s Svampskola?
[CL]: Ya? Mushroom school (laughs).
[KG]: About finding edible mushrooms, yea! Which just sounds wonderful.
[CL]: That’s about my passion. I’m out in the woods picking mushrooms and this was some kind of education film, and believe it or not small children in school are looking at this mushroom school. And I think it’s funny.
[KG]: I think it’s really sweet. I mean, you know, you spend all those years making the kinds of films you made and then twenty years later you find your true calling, and it’s these kinds of educational films and yea, I think that’s really admirable. How did that originally come about?
| [CL]: I had always been very, nature has always been something extra in my life. Even when I was in Japan and I travelled around and Exposed was playing in Japan. I travelled around and they dressed me like a small Geisha and took pictures. It was crazy, but then I talked about what they did to their nature and they were really shocked. I found out about organisations like Greenpeace, who are very well known today. I found them in Amsterdam in the ‘70s and they were a very small organisation, and I have always wished to live in the countryside and today I have my house and my meadows. I live at a fantastic place, I must say (laughs).
[KG]: So since then you’ve stayed interested in conservation issues.
[CL]: Yea I’ve been struggling against the predators in Sweden, I’ve written a lot of articles and have appeared on television and radio and so on, struggling for the wolves and Lynx, because we don’t behave too good in Sweden, you know? We think we are very good when it comes to nature, but we are not, not at all.
[KG]: When I was trying to do some research I found on the internet some Swedish articles which I tried to translate, but they didn’t come out very well, but I did get the impression that you were very outspoken and not shy to voice your opinions on certain environmental issues, some seemed controversial. So would you consider yourself a spokesperson?
[CL]: I want to save the world. I’m one of those persons. It’s funny because of my old fame people listen to me, and that is fantastic, because they remember me. And then I can write in the newspapers and tell people what I think and they listen. Today when people look back they think that Christina Lindberg made good things, it’s different.
[KG]: So with Flygrevyn that must take up a lot of your time. Do you still find the time to teach children? Do you enjoy working with children?
[CL]: No, it’s not really like that. In my spare time I have a lot of areas to take care of, some houses, I can send you some pictures and you can understand a little bit more, but I have to take care of the area and I have a lot of horses in Summer time, not my horses. But I want to preserve the grass and so on for the wild nature. That’s important for me, the reindeer, the birds, all wild living creatures.
[KG]: Do you tend to do that by yourself?
[CL]: Yea. So I have a lot to do. And then I try to speak for them because they need people to speak for them.
[KG]: We have a similar issue here with fox hunting, and it really is terrible, disgraceful. I think the most frustrating thing is that a lot of people like yourself speak out about it and it doesn’t ever seem to help. Does that worry you?
[CL]: Yes in some ways, but I think it’s helped a little and I think if you live yourself in the way you learn then it’s a good thing, people say “well she does those kinds of things, maybe it’s something I should listen to.” For example when I was around thirty I stopped eating meat, and my weight is still 45 kilos (laughs).
[KG]: Do you know what? I saw a photograph of you which was taken maybe a year/two years ago on a Swedish public service website. I dunno if you remember it but you’re wearing some little sailor outfit and you do look incredible, so it’s great you’re definitely looking after yourself.
[CL]: Yes, I think the most important thing is the mind, how you look at the world. I don’t worry about age, I don’t care. My best friends are about twenty and I really don’t care about age. The most important is that you try to be a kind person.
[KG]: That’s a really nice quality because today, if you look at movie stars or singers there’s this unhealthy obsession with trying to stay young.
[CL]: Yes but you can do a lot of important things instead, and then I think you stay young. Doing good things keeps you young.
[KG]: I think the good thing is because you have the majority of actors, and that’s all they have and that’s all they’ll ever do until the day they die. With you it’s just, you’ve moved on from that and have tried different things and you’ve found what makes you happy. It’s a nice philosophy you have.
[CL]: It is. You know my wish is for the future now. My company is my company and it’s a rather successful company because I treat it carefully. When I get money I talk with people in the north and I try to buy wood areas to protect them, something that is important for that area. So what I’m going to try to do in future, I wish I was very very rich but I’m not (laughs), but I’m rather wealthy.
[KG]: And more importantly you’re content.
[CL]: Yes, but I don’t care about - I live in a lovely area and I have a lovely house, but I don’t care about cars etc, it doesn’t matter for me.
[KG]: Now I wanted to ask you about something else, because I’ve totally swerved past it, but when I first did a search on your name I found a website for Christina Lindberg, but it was a singer. I was curious though because you actually did record some songs in the ‘70s. How was that? Can you still get hold of those songs?
[CL]: Yea I have them on record, I never listen to them (laughs). Because today you can make any girl dance and sing. If I was the young Christina Lindberg today I’d probably be some business person. I’m happy I’m not a singer.
[KG]: So that wasn’t a very good experience?
[CL]: No, I did two songs and it was connected with fold-out pictures of me, and they put it in the magazine with these pictures and today everyone seems to want that record. But some of those kinds of things, they sell on the internet I believe.
[KG]: So you never ever get confused with Christina Lindberg the singer?
[CL]: No, but for example when I was fifty five in December last year they used a picture of her instead of me (laughs), saying “Congratulations.” So sometimes they mix us up, you know. I think she is a little bit disturbed, but I do not care because I was first (laughs).
[KG]: Wow, you know that’s nearly all my questions. We’ve been talking for ages. It’s nice to find out what you’ve been doing. So really the future now is to keep sticking with Flygrevyn?
[CL]: Well now I will save all of my money to buy woodland, something that means something to me. That’s my goal.
[KG]: And maybe we can expect to see you on some future DVDs, hopefully.
[CL]: Yes, maybe.
[KG]: I’m surprised you weren’t interviewed for Thriller. Do you know of any plans to interview you for any more films?
[CL]: Yes, they have asked me here in Sweden. I think it’s for Anita, so maybe I’ll do that. And I did one for Exposed.
[KG]: Yes I did see that was available, and I was tempted to get it just for the interviews but sadly it doesn’t have English subtitles, which unless I start learning Swedish is no good.
[CL]: Yes but now you know everything about me (laughs).
[KG]: But do you know what? After speaking to you for more than an hour I still think there’s so much more to learn about you. But after all these years you’re still regarded as such an iconic sex symbol and I’m sure that makes you proud.
[CL]: I’m flattered.
[KG]: And what would be your particular favourite film, of all time?
[CL]: Myself? I think in that case it’s some kind of small movie, documentaries I like very much. Nothing special.
[KG]: So in your career...
[CL]: Oh you mean my own movies? My favourite, I think would be Rötmånad, Thriller and those Japanese movies.
Good call. But generally you’re into nature programming etc.
[CL]: Yes, and talking heads. I’m interested in talking heads.
[KG]: Talking heads? (Presuming for a moment she was referring to the band)
[CL]: Yes people who talk a lot and hold discussions and so on.
[KG]: Oh ok, debates and stuff. So I suppose that brings me to the end of this interview. Do you have anything in particular that you’d like to say to people out there, fans?
[CL]: Hmm, well. Take care of nature. Look at this world which is so ugly today. We have other creatures living on this world and it’s important to be careful. It’s hard to express. Live life that doesn’t damage nature. You can choose, that’s the big thing with human beings. You can choose to do good things.
[KG]: Wow, you know what I’ve really enjoyed talking with you. I would love to know so much more, but I think this is good and I know there are so many curious people out there who don’t know enough about you these days.
[CL]: It would be nice to hear the reactions.
[KG]: Well we have a feedback option here, so you never know. But yea thank you so much, there’s some very interesting stuff here. You’ve been very kind and it’s nice that you will still take time out to talk to your fans. So you take care, and I’ll wish you all the best for the future.
[CL]: Same to you, good luck with all this text (laughs).
| A final, huge thank you to Christina for kindly sending me these exclusive photographs to use in this interview.
Christina has since informed me that she will be visiting the United States in April where several of her movies will be playing at a film festival, after which there may be an update to this interview.
Update: It is now official that Christina will be attending the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian in Hollywood, from Saturday April 29th. She sent me the following programme, so for those who can make it, enjoy.
Furthermore, Synapse Films recently acquired the rights to Exposed and are rumoured to release Anita in the near future. You can be sure that we'll update as and when details are finalized.