Having made her name in theater and on the small screen in Finland, actress Riitta Havukainen has traveled to the Costa del Sol to star alongside Fran Perea in “Paradise”, a series co-produced by THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO and MRP Matila Röhr Productions Oy in association with the Finnish public TV network Yle. Havukainen plays a veteran cop, Hilkka, who abandons the cold and darkness of northern lands to solve a series of murders which have taken place on the sunny Mediterranean coast.

How do you feel about playing a character like Hilkka, with such a complex personality?

It’s really interesting. She’s not a monotone character, she’s conflicting as people in often are in everyday life. 

Could you describe Hilkka?

Hilkka is very focused on her work; she loves it and feels alive when working. She is a straight-talking, well-grounded person, very sane, but she also has her sensitive, even wild side. She’s good at hiding her negative feelings by concentrating on her work. She’s also very responsible when it comes to her family and this is often hard to balance with her work.

Did you find much of a difference between working with Finnish and Spanish crews?

Not much. The work itself is very similar, but for example the dinner and lunch breaks last one hour, people eat and relax, the opposite to Finland, where eating must be done fast. In general, members of the crew are more open and easier to get acquainted with. Above all, actors in general are more highly respected here in Spain, and how you guys treat us is different. I like it. It makes me feel special and important.

Really?

I think it’s about the character of people in Spain. You are more extrovert and show your joy of life more than the Finnish. Maybe it’s because you treat other people more politely and in a more friendly and open way than people in Finland tend to do. And this is in general.

When acting in “Paradise”, did you approach the job in a different way because of the fact of using three languages?

Yes, of course. When using English in the dialogue, you must learn more your lines. But the shooting went so well, like a well-oiled machine, thanks to our brilliant director, Marja, who operates easily with three languages and makes flying changes from one language to another.

What do you think about the fact that production companies from different countries, such as THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO and MRP, work together to develop a project like this?

I think it’s great and it’s something we’re going to see more in the world of TV-series’ and movies. 

It is not the norm nowadays for a veteran actress to have the main role in a show. What are your thoughts on this?

I’m happy about it. It’s been a big thing for me, and I think it’s a big thing in general also. I’ve had quite a lot of big roles in theatre but in TV-series and movies lately, I’ve been cast as someone’s mom or gran. (Hilkka is also a mom and a gran, but she’s a cop before all else). The story of an elderly woman can also be worth telling. Thanks to the writers. The character is well written.

In this era of “#MeToo”, is this Riitta’s way of claiming equal opportunities for women in the artistic world?

Well, I didn’t cast myself, but in my opinion it’s time for women in the movies and series’ to be characters who are acting, not only determining the male character.

Did you know Fran Perea before this project?

No, I didn’t know him personally. Of course I have watched Los Serrano in Finland.

What was it like working with him?

I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He’s an excellent actor; charming, intelligent and funny. All and all, a truly lovely person. I think we really connected well while working together. And from the very beginning, it was very easy to get along with him.

You are a veteran actress, and he is younger. Was that an issue for you on this job?

No, not at all. Andres and Hilkka also connect on a personal and emotional level, but it wasn’t an issue. If I were a man and Fran were a woman, nobody would even mention the age difference. It’s time for showing relationships that are something else rather than an affair between an older man and a younger woman.

Had you ever been in Spain before? 

Yes, I have. My ex-husband’s parents had an apartment on the Costa del Sol, so we often spent holidays here with the kids.

Is the Costa del Sol really a Paradise?

From the weather and natural point of view, it is, especially for those of us who come from the cold and the dark winter. And Spanish people are lovely and friendly. But you can’t jump on a flight and escape from yourself and your problems anywhere else. So, in that sense, it’s not. Social problems exist here just like everywhere else. Money talks.