As Piet Van Der Valk’s boss Chief Commissaris Julia Dahlman, Emma Fielding had a wonderful ally... Trojan the dog.
“Trojan is glorious! I love dogs so I was thrilled the character had a dog but Marc’s (Warren) character, Van Der Valk, is always feeding Trojan treats behind her back which she frowns upon.
“Trojan is a rescue who was trained by the police. She is 12 and has never done any filming before and so you never know, until you get on the floor, how a dog will react and she was absolutely brilliant. A film set is incredibly busy, there is so much equipment, noise and loads of people and she was absolutely delightful, so calm and I got to know her quite well.
“I had the most beautiful letter from the dog handler when I got back the other night which made me slightly teary. Her owners said they saw sides of her in filming that they hadn’t seen before, they didn’t realise she would be so good at her job and so calm. The letter said when she knew she was going to set she would stand in the hallway wagging her tail because she was going to be with her new friend.
“When filming I used the Dutch word for stay and good dog and hopefully she understood what I was saying. Dogs don’t necessarily understand the word itself but more the tone in your voice and your body language.”
What other elements drew Emma to the role?
“I loved the way the character was written and I liked her back story. I was thrilled that there was a part for a woman over 45 who isn’t slightly sad in a cardigan and who is still effective in the workplace. She isn’t a ball breaker, she is just really good at her job and she lets people get on with their jobs and tries to get the best out of her team...”
Describing Dahlman’s relationship with Van Der Valk Emma continues: “They have a back story which doesn’t become clear until episode three but they hint at all the way through. They have been work colleagues for a while and something bad happened and he feels responsible – she has an injury is a result of what happened. She is in constant pain and taking morphine but she has been allowed back in the workplace and is running a team and doing really well.
“She enjoys and sees the real value in him not following the rules all of the time, she has to keep a check on him because the people who are funding the police, the local authorities, for political reasons get upset with him so she has to manage him to an extent. She is juggling between getting the crime solved in the only way he knows how to and police resources. She respects and admires him but has to keep him in check.”
The injury in question causes her character problems moving about and causes Emma different issues...
“I have a limp but it is not an issue other than having to be out of breath sometimes.
“But the biggest problem is remembering which leg is injured! It is going upstairs that is a problem, as I had to work out where I could and couldn’t put my weight. One of the guys playing a henchmen in episode three asked how my leg was as he thought I was really struggling up the stairs which was a good sign that I made it look authentic.”
Emma admits she did more damage to herself exploring Amsterdam in flip flops during the heat wave...
“I had some days off and I walked for miles. I am not brave enough to cycle because I am rubbish on a bike. Crossing the road I felt like my nan – cars, trams, bikes all at the same time and it is the opposite side of the road but I did get used to that quite quickly.
“Amsterdam is so relaxed in so many ways and I don’t just mean the drug culture but the way people are with each other, the way they are with strangers. It reminded me of NYC and Scotland, where people are so proud of their city and there was an unfortunate contrast for me, with what is happening at home.”
Discussing the drama and it’s themes Emma explains: “Each story is in a completely different world. Although it is all in Amsterdam. We have had three directors and camera men and then the regular team to keep it consistent. It was also great to be a part of a mixture of Dutch and British actors, that will make it feel different.
“It was all done on location, which is unusual. Especially to film right in the centre of Amsterdam, even for the Dutch crew it was unusual. It was quite light footed, there were no trailers, just a little wagon you got changed in and there would be a green room on set somewhere so it felt quite mobile.
“Like anywhere if you say I am with a film crew and you get access to the most extraordinary places. The finale of episode three was filmed on what was an oilrig but is now a fancy restaurant overlooking the river outside the Courts for Justice. It was extraordinary so hopefully the atmosphere will come through in the show.”