The Square is nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar

By Nigel Smith
February 23, 2018 05:37 PM

Talk about a late bloomer!

Already a familiar face in Danish cinemas and on German TV, 50-year-old actor Claes Bang broke out in a big way this year thanks to his lead role in the Oscar nominated satire The Square.

Ruben Ostlund’s follow-up to Force Majeure was the toast of the Cannes Film Festival, winning the event’s Palme d’Or, and catapulting its star to the mainstream. Up next for the actor is the villain opposite Claire Foy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, based on the hit book series.

First, you’ll next see Bang at the Academy Awards, where The Square is up for best foreign language film of the year. Here are five things to know about the rising star.

He reportedly beat out 150 actors for his part in The Square

“That’s sort of the number that I have heard,” Bang confirms to PEOPLE. “I think Ruben [Ostlund] cast people everywhere for it. I think when he wrote the script, he had a French actor in mind. The character in the beginning was called Fabrice and it had to be changed to Christian. I fit the expectations of what he wanted!”

Claes Bang
| Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty

He almost passed out when he met his idol Frances McDormand

At the Golden Globes, where The Square was nominated for best foreign language film, Bang had one encounter he’ll never forget.

“I was blown away at the Globes when all of sudden out of nowhere my hero Frances McDormand came straight over to me and said, ‘What a marvelous film you have done,’ ” he recalls. “I almost fainted. I think she’s a goddess. I was just totally blown away by that.”

He’s fine with being considered a sex symbol at 50

“These are positive things to have said about you so I just think it’s super nice,” he says of the compliment. “If that sort of helps sell the product it’s perfect. I suppose I think of myself as something more than that but I absolutely don’t mind. It’s cool.”

Claes Bang in The Square
| Credit: Everett

He’s gone blonde for Girl in the Spider’s Web

Bang describes his character in the sequel as a “badass motherf—– who kills them all.” He’s also gone “totally blonde” for the role. “It couldn’t be anything further from The Square,” he shares. “This is an action-based film.”

He thinks Claire Foy is going “kill it” as Lisbeth Salander

“From what I’ve seen, I mean she’s going to kill it,” Bang praises of The Crown actress who’s taking over the role of the hacker from Rooney Mara. “Claire will be just as amazing,” he says. “From what I’ve seen so far it looks really really good.”