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Jonas Åkerlund:"Oh, that's Madonna"

Where he lives: Stockholm's Östermalm district and Los Angeles
Music: Soundtrack of Our Lives, "Welcome the Infant Freebase";
Metallica "Black Album," and Stina Nordenstam`s "And She Closed Her Eyes"
Last book read: "A million little pieces," by James Frey
Dessert: "I don`t do desserts"
Age: 41

Jonas Åkerlund has several dozen film scripts - their titles hand-printed on their spines or front covers in blue ink - lying on the floor in two neat piles beside his desk. Åkerlund is one of the world`s most successful creators of music videos. He recently made his debut as a feature film director with "Spun," about the desperate lifestyle of methamphetamine addicts.
"I get around 40 new scripts a week. Right now, I am trying to decide what my next big step will be," Åkerlund says. "Spun," which featured Mickey Rourke as a meth-cook and Debbie Harry in a cameo role, was Åkerlund's debut in the independent feature film genre. It brought in 27 million dollars in DVD sales in America. Does that mean that Åkerlund made a bundle?
"I wish," says the video and film director, brushing a stray lock of his long black hair out of one eye. "I didn't make anything at all on it. I did it for free."
One of the unusual aspects of "Spun" is that Åkerlund made a record 5,345 cuts, which contributes to the appropriately speedy feeling of the film.
Is the director, who has also made a number of artsy short films, satisfied with his first full-length movie?
"Spun was way beyond my expectations. We did it on a very low budget, and it came out exactly how I wanted. It had theatrical release all over the world. I proved to Hollywood that I could make a movie and that I could cut a movie."
The question now isn't if Åkerlund will make a new feature film, but which one he will choose: "I hope to get into production this year," he says.
Åkerlund spent most of 2003 promoting the feature film and turning out new music videos for heavyweights like Robbie Williams, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, U2 and Ozzy Osbourne.
He also made a few commercials and took some still photographs.
A few of the videos that Åkerlund created push the envelope in terms of sex or violence. A video he once did for Prodigy and his video for "My Favorite Game" by The Cardigans, for example, have run afoul of censors. But the Swedish director/editor does not seek that kind of controversy:
"I've done about 300 projects since I started and maybe I had that kind of problem around 10 times. Those are the ones you read about in the paper, but I regard it as a failure for me to have to go to my paying clients with that kind of problem."
Some of Åkerlund's videos are regarded as modern classics, such as the much-imitated film he did for Madonna's "Ray of Light" single, which won a Grammy in 1998. Another favorite of millions of music fans around the world is the lovely and evocative video he did for "Beautiful Day" by U2, which was shot at an airport.
One might think that Åkerlund would get blasé® about constantly working with mega-stars, but that doesn`t seem to be the case.
"I can be involved with everything around and on the stage, and have the crew and the budget ready, and then I step behind the camera and look through the lens and suddenly I realize, 'Oh, s--t, that's Madonna.'"

Photography: Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin

Jonas is wearing: Gucci jacket, Christian Dior jeans, hat by Chrome Hearts, shirt by Costume Nationalle, Nike shoes, eye-ring by student of St. Martins design school in London and vintage scarf. Make-up: Lisa Peterson
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