Netflix today announced The Unlikely Murderer, a five-part limited series based on the award-winning book The Unlikely Murderer written by Thomas Pettersson.
The Swedish drama series is a fictional interpretation of how Stig Engström, the graphic designer who was named as the probable murderer of Sweden’s prime minister Olof Palme, managed to elude justice right up to his death through a combination of audacity, luck and a perplexed police force. What do we know about Stig Engström? How could the police let him get away, despite being on his track? The murder was not planned well, Engström did everything wrong from the beginning and almost no one believed his lies about what he actually did during that fateful night 1986 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Robert Gustafsson (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Det som göms i snö), one of Sweden’s most beloved comedians and actors, will play the lead role as Stig Engström. Joining Robert Gustafsson are Eva Melander, Mikael Persbrandt and Peter Andersson.
The cast also consists of Joel Spira, Emil Almén, Shanti Roney, Torkel Petterson, Henrik Norlén, Lia Boysen, Magnus Krepper, Björn Bengtsson, Peter Viitanen and Cilla Thorell.
Scriptwriters are Wilhelm Behrman and Niklas Rockström (Caliphate, Before we Die) and Charlotte Brändström (The Witcher, Jupiter’s Legacy) is the conceptual director. The Swedish-language series will be produced by FLX, the production company behind the Netflix original series Quicksand and Love & Anarchy.
Robert Gustafsson said: “It’s an exciting challenge and a great responsibility to portray Stig Engström, but also, in a way, a form of therapy. Since I was at the same cinema as Olof Palme on the night of the murder, this case has always felt like an abscess that never disappears – and I’m not alone in feeling that. The theory about Engström is the most logical one and the one that the latest Palme investigation group has concluded as the right one. It is also the theory I believe – and now there is a chance for me to understand the event and examine Stig Engström’s character. It is an exciting and tragic story that affects Sweden and the Swedish people very much. The series explores and depicts the inadequate police work around the Palme Inquiry during the 80s and 90s. Stig Engström is very far from myself as a person, which makes this role attractive and challenging, and in playing this character I feel it will lead me to inner peace on these events.”
Tesha Crawford, Director Nordics Original Series, at Netflix, said: ”This gripping and challenging case has intrigued people both in Sweden as well as in the rest of the world for more than 34 years. We are therefore very excited to bring Thomas Pettersson’s book to life, together with our long-term partners FLX. With Charlotte as the conceptual director and Wilhelm and Niklas writing, we have a really strong creative team and I can’t wait to introduce this Swedish series to the world.”
Charlotte Brändström said: “Certain events in the life of a nation can be considered seminal – changing the mindset and the trajectory of a country thereafter. I certainly remember the immense national trauma caused by the assassination of Olof Palme in February 1986, a trauma that still quietly rumbles on today. As such I leapt at the opportunity to return home to Sweden to direct the first two episodes of The Unlikely Murderer. The series is a powerful character study and poses a serious and credible hypothesis regarding the man who most likely killed Palme on that snowy winter night when the Prime Minister left a cinema in central Stockholm and was walking home. The very fact that Sweden’s head of government could, back then, live like any other citizen and eschewed chauffeur-driven vehicles or bodyguards in favor of public transport speaks to a now lost innocence in our national life.
What makes someone a murderer – and one who felt compelled to target a prime minister for assassination? How did this sad, solipsistic figure elude police detection? Our series attempts to provide answers to these questions and poses certain conjectures. Just as it is a compelling and psychologically dense attempt to unravel a crime that shook a proudly stable and pacific social democracy to its core. Could it be that the murder of Olof Palme – the greatest real-life whodunit in Swedish history – has a shockingly simple explanation?”
- Scriptwriters: Wilhelm Behrman and Niklas Rockström (Caliphate, Before we Die)
- Directors: Charlotte Brändström (conceptual director) and Simon Kaijser (Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves, Before we Die, Spinning Man)
- Producers: Fatima Varhos and Frida Asp / FLX
- Executive producer: Pontus Edgren / FLX
The Unlikely Murderer will launch on Netflix in 2021.