Jo Nesbo, Martin Scorsese and The Snowman: Who Should Play Harry?

Jo Nesbo The SnowmanAs we all know, books are optioned every day for film and television, but most don’t make it past that first step. But The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (Nesbø) has just come one major step forward in the process: Martin Scorsese has agreed to direct.

In typical form for movie-makers, Working Title Films is not starting with the first in the Harry Hole series of thrillers, but with the seventh.  Readers of the books, therefore, will know a great deal more about Harry than is likely to be revealed in the movie.

For those of you unfamiliar with him, Harry is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, laconic, unorthodox Norwegian detective. You have to figure anyone casting this movie will start with him. So what do you think? Who should play Harry? (And please, don’t say Tom Cruise.)


  1. Mike in Michigan

    Paul Bettany is perfect. He’s the perfact age, the perfect height, and can play Harry with a laconic sense that we who have read the books know. I cannot imagine anyone who would be better.

    • Bill V

      If a movie is made of KNIFE Harry Hole should be played by Russel Crowe. He is perfect.

  2. Clare 2e

    I haven’t read enough Nesbo to say I have a comprehensive understanding of Harry yet, but I adore Paul Bettany as an actor, so yes, Mike. You’re brilliant!

  3. tsatske2

    Jason Isaacs is perfect for this role….he looks just like I imagine Harry.

  4. Megan Frampton

    I’ve read all the books available in English, and I definitely agree w/Mike on his Paul Bettany suggestion. I haven’t seen Isaacs except in Harry Potter (right?), so I can’t comment there.

    I’ve been thinking about this since I heard the news, but I haven’t come up with my own suggestion yet. Knowing Scorsese, I hope it’s not DiCaprio, though.

  5. vaughne

    Perhaps Alexander Skarsgard!

  6. tsatske2

    Isaacs also played Jackson Brodie (Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories) on the Masterpiece Theater series.
    You can watch them online.

  7. gregorylent

    an unknown .. one reason i say that is i am currently reading nesbo’s novels one after the other, and today in shanghai i saw two different europeans, tall, lean, close-cropped hair that i thought, bang, there goes harry hole ..

    so, an unknown actor will be fine.

    but, god, the editing and translating, jeezus, so bad.

  8. Conrad Nystrom

    IF Walken were Deerhunter-ish youthful….he would fill the bill….or even a young DaFoe….perhaps Viggo Mortenson would make a good Harry Hole? Just not DiCaprio….I am not sure he is ‘lived-in’ and ‘haunted’ enough for the role…..

  9. Ginnie

    Jason Statham or Mikael Birkkjar

  10. susanne

    Ryan Gosling, Joe Anderson or Aleksander Skarsgaard?? All of them has that naturally serious look, and their not to muscular

  11. Rebecca Espinosa

    I pictured Paul Bettany while reading the last few Harry Hole books. He is a great actor with a physical appearance close to Harry’s. I vote for Bettany!

  12. AlexHole

    I think Bettany is a good suggestion, but I feel he looks a bit young. I would like to see a undernourished Liam Neeson, or maybe a blondish Gerard Butler. Thoughts? And also, who for Katrine Bratt and Rakel?

  13. Nicola

    Even though he’s Swedish, older and not blonde, I’d actually love [url=]Michael Nyqvist[/url] to play Harry.

  14. Eileen Taylor

    Trond Espen Seim or Daniel Craig. Their faces have that lived in look which is needed for the character. I have read all the books.
    I also think Michael Nyqvist has exactly the right sort of look.

  15. Eileen Taylor

    Paul Bettany is perfect for the part.But will they offer it to him ?

  16. Elina

    I think that it has to be someone Scandinavian.. Alexander Skarsgård or Mads Mikkelsen for example. Michael Nyqvist played the role of Mikael Blomkvist in the Girl with the dragon tattoo’s Swedish version (Män som hatar kvinnor) which I loved. That’s why I can’t see him as Harry Hole.

  17. Irene O'Callaghan

    Yesterday I watched Law & Order: UK and whenever Ben Daniels, Senior Crown Prosecutor, James Steel, was onscreen all I could think was that’s Harry Hole. I’m unfamiliar with him otherwise. Paul Bettany seems a good choice as does Alexander Skarsgård although a bit young looking.

  18. Beans

    I think casting a Scandinavian actor would only make sense if Scorsese retains Oslo as the setting. If he transplants it to the US, a non-Scandinavian actor would be preferable for me. I think Dominic West would do a great job but the parallels with McNulty from The Wire might be too close. Paul Bettany did a good psycho in Gangster No.1 but nothing about his appearance says “cop” and Harry Hole looks very much like a cop. For that reason I think Michael Fassbender would make an interesting Hole….

  19. TF

    Having read all of the Harry Hole series I have always envisioned Jason Statham as Harry.

  20. KR

    Jason Statham, Russel Crowe or a scandinavian actor

  21. KR

    Or Gerard Butler? And who says Ryan Gosling should read the book first!!

  22. zoi

    Jason Statham for sure..

  23. KSC10032

    The natural choice is Joel Kinnaman (of “The Killing”).

  24. ninou

    Joel Kinnaman….i think he wiil be perfect for the role

  25. zsoka

    It is Alexander Skarsgard or Paul Bettany. Considering Harry is 193 cm tall, blond, having a boyish smile and blood-drown blue iris, the chice should be definetly Alexander Skarsgard.

  26. Dee Bennett

    Alexander Skarsgard, without a doubt! Tall, blonde, thin. Harry Hole to a TEE!

  27. Cha

    Not sure what his first name is but his last name is Skarsgard and he’s the lead in a show called Vikings. I believe he is brother to Alexander Skarsgard. He would be better than A Skar!

  28. Chrispayne82

    I think Jeremy Renner would be good, but my girlfriend says she images Harry Hole is kinda ugly but sexy. So that makes me think of Ray liotta.

  29. Nicolina

    I LOVE Harry Hole and I believe that Mads Mikkelsen and Viggo Mortensen would be perfect in portraying his darkness yet they might be just a little bit too old for the part. Paul Betanny is also a perfect fit, mostly heightwise! Kudos to the one who came up with Bettany

  30. Nicolina

    ohhhhhhhhh and of course JOEL KINNAMAN, I am a huge fan of his!

  31. nancy p

    Russell Crowe or Paul Bettany for sure Harry is not that old, only around 40.

  32. Debs

    Hands down – Joel Kinneman

  33. George George George

    I’ve always seen harry as an exact replication of jo nesbo himself. Unfortunately he isn’t an actor as well as a footballer/author/singer/guitarist

  34. Norwegian

    William Fichtner for sure!

  35. Roz

    Some good suggestions. I thought of Bettany also but think he’s too good looking, slick and not ravaged enough. Alexander Skarsgard would be a good fit . But not the best acting skills . While I read I pictured one man…
    So my suggestion is to go for the real alkie look…he’s tall, lean , drinks like a fish and has haunted puppy eyes and can really act… its Rhy Ifans.
    Just need to shave his head.

  36. dp

    David Thewles? Joel Kinnamen is a great call.

  37. mbp

    How about Rhys Ifans?

  38. krnc

    Viggo Mortensen. Height, acting chops, and he’s got the whole fluent in multiple languages thing going on. Could give Harry a proper Scandinavian feel

  39. Susanne

    Somebody said Mikael Birkkjar.. I did not know this actor an looked on Google – absolutely best choice!! Harry Hole is no Hollywood Beauty, he is an alcoholic, with many signs and scars of his former police cases! I am very curious who will Beate Lonn be (Jodie Foster?) and Mikael Belmann (Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones?) – and Truls Berntsen, haha.. Any ideas?

  40. NancyP

    Joel Kinnaman would be perfect as far as I can tell. Tall, lanky, Scandanavian, and he can look like he was on a bender from hell which he proved on The Killing.

  41. Jane Thomson

    Definilty Paul Bethany , he has the quirky I don’t give a shit that is Harry hole.
    Harry is also extremely like able , yet affable, brilliant and haunted So Paul or Vigo mortensen are my faves for this fabulous character, as they both have the physical attributes. They also ooze the vulnerability that is Harry hole
    of course both posses the acting “chops”

  42. Moniiique

    – Kevin Bacon
    – Karel Roden 🙂 one of the best czech actor!!!
    – Jason Statham

  43. stittjoa
  44. Rachel hamilton

    I agree with Paul Bettany suggestion, think he could make a good Harry.i think John Malkovich would be great but unfortunately is now probably too old. One things for sure their going to have to get it right ! I will continue to muse on it.

  45. Bo Lasater

    From Jo Nesbo himself:
    “It’s impossible for me to imagine who could play him,” said Nesbø. “I mean, there are a lot of good actors but my Harry doesn’t exist.

    “Nick Nolte, he’s probably a bit too old now, but he’s like the closest.”

  46. Christopher

    Bill Nighy would be a fantastic Harry. I can’t get him out of my mind as I read the books.

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