This TV movie about the Oslo Peace Accords is “more timely than ever”
Oslo is based on the true story of negotiations between implacable enemies — the secret back-channel talks, unlikely friendships and quiet heroics of a small but committed group of Israelis, Palestinians and one Norwegian couple that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.
Oslo has been called “extraordinary” by The Washington Post; “engrossing” by The Hollywood Reporter; “thrilling” by Variety and “more timely than ever” by TV Guide.
Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (Luther, The Affair) stars as Mona Juul, a Norwegian foreign minister, with Emmy nominee Andrew Scott (Fleabag, Sherlock) as Terje Rød-Larsen, a Norwegian sociologist and Mona’s husband.
Oslo is based on the Tony-winning play of the same name, adapted for the screen by the play’s writer J.T. Rogers and director Bartlett Sher. “It’s a bit hard to believe but my daughter’s best friend in second grade was the daughter of Mona Juul and Terje Rød-Larsen,” says Sher. “We became friends and I introduced Terje to J.T.”
Palestian stars Salim Dau (Fauda) and Waleed Zuaiter (Ramy, Baghdad Central, Gangs of London) play Ahmed Qurie, finance minister of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and his associate Hassan Asfour respectively, while Israeli actor Jeff Wilbusch (Unorthodox) plays Uri Savir, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Rogers says, “A political act of this story is simply putting both sides of a very intense conflict front and centre and allowing them to speak their piece.”
Sher agrees. “The play was so successful because good theatre is not between a wrong and a right; a good piece of theatre is between two rights.“
For the Palestinian and Israeli cast, the story was personal. “For all the Palestinians and Israelis in the cast, this was a subject matter that we’d all be able to draw our own experiences from,” says Zuaiter.
Wilbusch agrees. “For us it was not really a movie. We are actors and we are acting, but it was very emotional for both of us.”
Zuaiter adds, “These men were unapologetic. They fought a lot but they made up a lot.”
Rogers says, “Oslo the film is an intellectual thriller about people risking their lives for beliefs larger than themselves. What fascinated me about these men is that they were changed by seeing the enemy as a human being; that to me is a story very much worth telling in the world we’re living in. There’s something beautiful about a story where people have the courage to see beyond their personal hatreds and fears and see their enemy as a person, and to be changed by that, and in some cases to be friends for the rest of your life.”
For Sher, it’s a case of, “Oh My God, if they can get together then anything is possible… In a culture that is deeply polarised, if you can watch a story about people who couldn’t be more different from each other, it may make you ask, ‘What is it going to take in the current circumstances to see if there is any common ground?’”
Of course, the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords failed. “But the point of the movie is that they tried,” says executive producer Cambra Overend.
“I don’t believe we can change the world with a movie,” admits Dau. “But we have to do something; we can’t go on like this… We have to live together, because we have no choice.“