Last week I was introduced over Twitter to Christian Torpe – Creator of Rita – who shared my blog post about why Rita had become such a success worldwide. Thankfully I was able to ask a few questions about the show and his new spin-off ‘Hjørdis‘. It was a privilege to have a one-on-one exchange with Christian and ask some of the questions I’ve had since the show began.
How did you come up with the idea of Rita as a character? Was she based on anyone you know?
She is a mix of a couple of people I know – including myself. The whole hiding-behind-sarcasm is something I relate to a little too much!
Mille Dinesen is a fantastic Rita with such a grasp on how complex the character can be. Was she exactly what you envisioned when writing the pilot?
Yes, I think we saw 40 actresses and it wasn’t until we saw Mille that we knew we had our Rita.
Was is the same for Lise Baastrup?
Hjørdis was originally a man, but then I saw Lise in her graduation play and she was brilliant. I went straight home and rewrote the pilot.
Would you say Lise is the reason for writing more and more individual story lines for Hjørdis? Was she always going to such a big character?
Lise definitely inspired me to do more stories for Hjørdis – how could you not with such an actress?
And with her popularity came the inevitable spin-off Hjørdis; What was the writing process like for that? Because Rita and Hjørdis have such different teaching techniques and personalities.
It’s a very different show to write. Hjørdis is more a movie broken down to four episodes. it’s also more comedy and more child-friendly, but that was part of why it was fun for me to do.
Rita is full of themes such as sexuality, motherhood, and prejudice . How important is it to include a moral in each episode?
I don’t necessarily write for a particular moral, I always go for character. But if you treat all characters as real humans, then it automatically becomes anti-prejudice, not by theme, but by its very DNA.
What does it mean to you to have Rita and Hjørdis now on Netflix?
It’s wonderful! When I created it, I thought it was a particularly Danish show – the Danish school, the sexuality, her kind of offensive nature. It’s been incredible to see that people everywhere can relate to the character.
I’ve had many messages, ever since my blog post, asking about Season 4. Is that on the radar in the near future?
Don’t know yet! Netflix co-produced the third season and in the end it depends on if they are satisfied with the numbers. I’d love to do another season, its such a fun show to write!