Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kaj-Erik Eriksen: A Conversation

It's hard to think of anything that would have been more thrilling to my ten year-old self than meeting Richard Dean Anderson and appearing on an episode of MacGyver.  Well, it turns out that I was not the only young kid with that dream.  Kaj-Erik Eriksen's favorite show as a boy was MacGyver, and he got to live the dream by appearing on not one but two episodes: The Outsiders and The Visitor. Both episodes are among my favorites and ranked in my top 25, and it was very exciting for Mark and I to get to talk MacGyver with him. Thanks to Kaj for his time and for his great work in two awesome episodes!



MH: As someone of Norwegian descent myself, your Scandinavian name has always intrigued me.

KEE:  My name is Danish (dad's Danish and mom's Swedish).


MH: I vaguely recall the series "J.J. Starbuck" which is listed as your first acting credit a year before your "MacGyver" role. Did that role help lead you to that first audition with MacGyver?

KEE:  J.J. Starbuck was one of my first speaking roles! I'm sure it helped me to land the MacGyver gig. Back when I started acting, you had to work your way up in the business just like any other job (Doesn't work that way now!!) So you had to start out as an extra to gain your "on set experience", then you got a little speaking role, then a guest star role etc etc.  


I was extremely excited to be a part of MacGyver because it was my favorite TV show as a kid. I carried my script around with me everywhere as soon as I got it! 

NS: In "The Outsiders," what was it like filming in the well? Did they actually lower you down into a hole

KEE: So the well was a set built on a sound stage. The walls were painted styrofoam! They did dig a big hole on that farm so they could lower me in though. 


as Jacob Miller in "The Outsiders"

NS: Before that episode, how much did you know about Amish culture?
              
KEE: I was pretty young when we filmed that and all I knew of Amish culture was that they didn't use electricity and lived by a strict set of rules. Also that members could be shunned for breaking those rules.

NS: I’ve heard that Richard Dean Anderson was great with kids. What was your experience with him like, and do you have any good RDA stories?

KEE: I think 2 or 3 years passed in between filming "The Outsiders" and "The Visitor" and on my first day back on set RDA walked up and said "Hey Kaj, it's good to have you back." I couldn't believe that he remembered me! He's such a fantastic guy. THAT made the experience even better!

MH: Which of the two episodes that you guest-starred on was more fun?

KEE:  Both episodes were great! "The Outsiders' holds a special place in my heart because it was the first big US show/guest star role I did. AND because it was my favorite show (and the show that started my love of swiss army knifes smile emoticon).  Editor's Note: His official website bio says, "He also collects Victorinox Swiss army knives, an obsession that started because of his love of MacGyver as a kid."  


as Tommy Wiley in "The Visitor"

MH: Of the various series you've been a recurring cast member on, which did you most enjoy working on?

KEE: I can't choose a favorite show. They're so vastly different. I grew up on "The Commish" so obviously that was a huge part of my childhood and at a very pivotal point in my life. I was literally growing up in the public eye. And Michael Chiklis was just awesome.


I loved "Beggars and Choosers" because it was fun taking the piss out of Hollywood.

"Boston Public" was great! The writing was terrific and I haven't connected with a character like the one I played up until "See No Evil 2."

And "The 4400" was very special because the cast was so tight. I haven't experienced that kind of camaraderie with the cast of a show before.

NS: Tell us about what you’ve been up to lately.

KEE: I have a fun new horror movie called "See No Evil 2" that just came out on Blu-ray and Netflix.  Editor's Note: The movie also stars Katharine Isabelle who memorably played young Violet in "The Madonna." I suspect her character in this movie will have more to worry about than stage fright. 

Thanks again to Kaj for talking to us, and we wish him continued success in his career!  Click here to visit his official website, and click here to order Kaj's new movie on Blu-ray. 

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the article , Nick . It's good to reminisce about those days and reconnect with Kai.. thumbs up ! Larry Musser

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  2. Another great interview. I most connected with his line about carrying that "MacGyver" script with him everywhere he went when he got cast for as Jacob Miller in "The Outsiders". I would totally have done that in elementary school as well. Also very cool that he collects Swiss Army knives. The passion this show produced among fans can't possibly be overstated.

    I found it interesting that he said it doesn't work that way in the business now regarding gradually escalating from being an extra to later getting speaking roles. Amazing to consider how many elaborate sound stages were built on "MacGyver" back in the 80s compared to the CGI that replaces it today. Seems like there was probably crew members in a permanent stage of construction on the set.

    Another great story of how Richard Dean Anderson was a pleasure to work with. Hard to believe there'd be too many actors who would remember a child guest star two years later. Not a big surprise that Kaj liked working with Michael Chiklis on "The Commish" as he's always struck me as someone who'd probably be likeable too. Crazy to think that when that show premiered, Chiklis was only 28 years old.

    Thanks much to Kaj-Erik Eriksen (surprised his surname is Danish....I always though the "sen's" were usually Swedish) for an excellent interview and good luck with "See No Evil 2" and future endeavors. Not sure if I mentioned this but Katherine Isabelle also had a recurring role in the dark NBC series "Hannibal" last season.

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    1. I like the bit about the Swiss Army Knife collection also. I have a few scattered about (including one I carry with me) - I'm sure the show was a boon to the pocketknife industry.

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  3. Great interview and questions.
    I've been lucky enough to talk with Kaj-Erik quite a lot over the years. I also collect Swiss Army Knives and McGyver is my favorite show.We made kind of a connection over collecting the knives.
    I lost my Swiss Champ a few weeks ago and mentioned it to him,how disappointed I was since I had it since 1992. He passed that onto Victorinox without telling me.They contacted me and let me know they were replacing it. Pretty cool of him and the company.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. Great personal ties to Kaj-Erik. Did you just stumble into him online based on the knife collections? Very nice indeed for him to contact Victorinox to replace the lost Swiss Champ.

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    2. Wow, great story, thanks for passing along.

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  4. Great interview and background info from another good guest star. I've always thought it looks like RDA connects well with his child co-actors on screen; good to know it really is the case. I like the SAK connection here too; I was given one as a youngster too (which I still have) and always look out for SAK uses in the episodes as you can probably tell from my comments every time MacGyver picks a lock with one!

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