Bestselling Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo is in Cannes to promote the film of his novel Headhunters, which is being sold here by TrustNordisk.
The movie about Norway’s most successful headhunter who is also an art thief screens her for buyers is a standalone story and not part of Nesbo’s world-famous series following police detective Harry Hole.
“I created a foundation to fight illiteracy in the third world and decided that all the royalties from the book would go to it,” explains Nesbo. “So when they came to me with this huge offer for a movie deal, I said, yes, let’s do it.”
Nesbo had no creative input into the film apart from one contribution. “They had trouble with the last line of the movie - the punchline - so I wrote the last line of the movie,” he says.
Selling movie rights to Harry Hole on the other hand was not an easy decision for Nesbo. Two years ago, Working Title Films approached him about buying the seventh Hole book The Snowman. “Their opening line was that they had made Fargo. I don’t know how they knew it was one of my favourite movies but I took the meeting with them and listened to them but said that while I was flattered by their interest, I didn’t want to sell the rights to the series while I was still writing them. I was afraid a film would steal my hero not just for me but for my readers.”
“Then they asked what it would take to sell the rights and I said that I would have to decide who was going to direct it or write the script. They explained that it didn’t work that way in film production, and I said I was aware of that but I was just telling them what it would take. A year later they phoned back and said that they would do the deal on those terms.”
Nesbo is an executive producer on the project, but would not disclose who is on his wish list to direct.
Meanwhile the next Hole book The Phantom is published in Norway next month, and Headhunters opens in August.
Did he enjoy Headhunters? “I can’t watch it like a movie,” he says. “It’s impossible to enjoy a movie from your own story, it’s like asking a gynecologist do you get turned on when you are at work.”