Digital Covers

Digital Cover: Malin Åkerman's Metamorphosis

By Clare McInerney

Leather jacket, €1,525. Eytys. Crystal embellished dress. Prada. 18k white gold earrings with diamonds. Rare Jewelry. Photo: Linus Morales

With her on-screen effervescence and radiant leading-lady looks, Swedish-Canadian Malin Åkerman has reigned supreme as a rom-com queen for decades, holding a nostalgic place in the hearts of many. Now, as Åkerman makes her Vogue Scandinavia debut as our latest digital cover star, the spirited Hollywood talent opens up about how she’s revving up into a new gear of total reinvention in her 40s – with a firm position in the driver's seat

“Whatever it is that I’m doing, I’m always completely – excuse my French – ‘balls to the wall’,” Malin Åkerman tells me. And it’s no exaggeration. Just a few hours later in an underground garage in the heart of Stockholm, the 45-year-old actor is sitting atop a stack of heavy-duty tyres, straddling the tower of rubber in a fierce all-black Boss ensemble, finished with fingerless gloves and stiletto pumps. Jackscrew machinery is positioned on the floor, Michelin and Perilli posters adorn the walls. The smell of petrol laces the air.

It’s this uninhibited way of Åkerman, who was born in Sweden and raised in Canada, that has made the star a mainstay on our screens for decades. Compounded by her blue-eyed, girl-next-door appeal, Åkerman’s ‘all-in’ energy has secured her top billing in some of Hollywood’s most iconic and beloved productions. Simply hearing her voice on the set, flitting seamlessly between Swedish and English, sparks a sense of familiarity and old-school rom-com nostalgia amongst the Vogue Scandinavia team.

Vest, €379, Trousers, €249. Both Boss. 18k white gold earrings, €5,000, 18k white gold pendant necklace, €4,800. Both Tiffany & Co. Silver chain necklace. Hermès. 18k white gold bracelet with diamonds, €6,672, 18k white gold bracelet with diamonds, €12,453. Both Rare Jewelry. 18k white gold bracelet, worn closest to hand, €9,250. Cartier. Leather gloves, €180. Handsome. Patent leather heels, €930. Prada. . Photo: Linus Morales

Just as Åkerman is switching it up a gear for our supercharged cover shoot in the oil-stained workshop, Åkerman has thrown herself into every role she’s taken on – the list of which on IMDB takes extensive scrolling – with an undeniable ‘magic touch’ when it comes to comedic timing and movement. “My biggest comfort zone is physical comedy,” Åkerman says. Just take her scene of sunburn-induced rage at Ben Stiller in The Heartbreak Kid, her wild embodiment of a bridezilla opposite Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, or writhings on a pool table with Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages. There’s no holding back for Åkerman in the name of fine-tuned humour. “I grew up watching Jim Carrey and Steve Martin, and I’m a huge fan of them both. They’re not afraid to fully offer themselves, or even to make a fool of themselves.”

It’s safe to say that Åkerman has fully offered herself for her latest role in Ett Sista Race, a new Swedish film of, in her words “racing and mayhem” in which she plays Tove: a mother forced to team up with her ex-husband Dennis (David Hellenius) to stop her teenage daughter from participating in a motor race with her boyfriend (Young Royals star Malte Gårdinger). “I love that kind of conflict when you put the exes in the car together and you try to work it out. There’s so much fun to be had with that, and so much heart.”

Metallic shearling coat, €3,000, Blazer, €449. Both Boss. Chain necklace. Stylist’s own. Suit trousers, €299. Boss. . Photo: Linus Morales

Coat, €749. Boss. 18k white gold earrings set with brilliant cut diamonds and a rock crystal, €11,400. Engelbert. 18k white gold ring set with brilliant cut diamonds, €7,600. Cartier. Leather gloves, €170. Handsome. Photo: Linus Morales

From the tightly choreographed combat scenes of 2009’s The Watchmen to these riotous road-runner antics of Ett Sista Race – set to be released on Christmas Day – Akerman’s always up to do her own stunt work too (as far as insurances will permit). “Your adrenaline’s pumping and it’s so exciting… and you don’t have to remember lines for that day,” she adds with a laugh. This latest role also gives Åkerman the chance to enjoy a Swedish script, though she admits the different cadence can sometimes add “a layer of difficulty” that “keeps her on her toes” when nailing her impeccable comedic timing.

Despite this on-camera challenge, Åkerman maintains a perfect grasp of the language and strong ties with her birthplace. Born in Stockholm, her family left for Toronto when she was two years old, but a few years later a divorce saw her father return to Sweden – Åkerman would regularly visit him in Falsterbro as she was growing up. Now, whenever making the journey back from her home in LA isn’t possible, Åkerman still holds on to Swedish tradition into her day-to-day life, always celebrating Midsommar and even kräftskivor (crayfish parties) across the Atlantic. However, Åkerman's Swedishness was unintentionally put to the test as we shot a video to accompany her cover, where she admitted losing touch with some other local norms, such as the EPA-trakor (a re-modelled car, often a Volvo, with a capped speed of 30km that can be driven by teenagers before they securing a full driver's license) and uppesittarkväll (the custom of sitting together on 23rd December to enjoy festive programming and Bingolotto).

Leather bomber jacket, €2,490. Isabel Marant. Leather skirt, €1,950. Teurn. Silver chain necklace. Hermès. 18k white gold earrings with diamonds, 18k white gold ring with diamonds. Both Rare Jewelry. . Photo: Linus Morales

The premiere of Ett Sista Race in Stockholm provides the perfect excuse for Åkerman’s husband of five years, British actor Jack Donnelly and her 10-year-old son Sebastian to join her for the holidays. “We haven’t spent Christmas in Sweden in a few years, I’m so ready for it,” she says. Åkerman’s first stop when she returns? “Street meat,” she responds, without hesitation. “I have to have a kokt korv med bröd, a cooked hotdog. It’s my favourite thing. It’s so gross and so good.” Before heading south for the holidays to be with extended family, the actor also plans to take her son ice-skating at Kungsträdgården. “As soon as he was walking, I was like, ‘we’re skating’,” says Åkerman, who competed professionally as a figure skater almost to an Olympic level, before hanging up her own skates at 16 (“I discovered parties and boys and just wanted to be a teenager”, she explains). While in Stockholm, a quick stop-off will also be made by Åkerman at Östermalm’s Saluhallen. “I used to go there with my grandfather, who is still alive and kicking, he’s wonderful. But that was always our spot, so I like to still go there and enjoy that beautiful old building and get some skagenröra.”

I’m in a moment right now of reinventing myself.

Malin Åkerman

Åkerman, however, is now a Californian through and through – as we’re gently reminded when she makes her only request on the Vogue Scandinavia set for a small heat source when the roller doors of the garage are cracked open, exposing the settling snow outside. “I love it,” she says of Los Angeles. “The hiking, the canyons. It feels like living in a vacation,” she says. The routines of her real, daily life are far from that of a vacation though. “When I’m in the midst of a project, it’s 24/7. Long days, coming home to learn your lines for the next day, trying to spend some quality time with family over the weekend.”

Adding to an already relentless schedule as a mother and actor, Åkerman also juggles work as a certified youth and childhood development coach. “I go into jails and juvenile halls with young boys under the age of 18,” she explains, “working with them on leadership skills and preparing them to get back out into the world, to hopefully reduce the recidivism.” It’s a cause that’s long been close to her heart, clocking back to when she supported herself through a university education with the view to become a child psychologist. “Two acquaintances of mine committed suicide in high school, and no one there at the school was able to see it before it happened. So I always just thought, one day I want to reform schools,” Åkerman recounts. “I ended up talking to the health minister in Canada when I was 18 about this reforming process, about making better counselling systems, and about how those in classrooms can watch for kids who might need a little extra attention. It’s always been a focus of mine.”

Leather trench coat, €849. Gestuz. Silver chain necklace. Hermès. Thigh-high leather boots, €1,890. Isabel Marant. Photo: Linus Morales

Åkerman’s mother’s own struggles with depression have also contributed to the actor’s drive to help others. “Boy, am I ever impressed by any parent who is able to raise kids through depression and make it a great childhood,” she says. “Because I had a great childhood, except for those moments that were hard to understand. She would go in and out of her dark moments, but I didn’t know what depression was because nobody ever spoke about it. I don’t know how she got through.”

My 40s have been the best era of my life so far. I feel the most myself, the most authentic to who I am.

Malin Åkerman

Never one to rest on her laurels, the ‘hot rod’ energy of our cover shoot feels in close accord with Åkerman’s current mindset, as she revs up for what she dubs her “new era.” “I keep saying to my husband that I’m in a moment right now of reinventing myself,” she says with a determined air. “My 40s have been the best era of my life so far. I feel the most myself, the most authentic to who I am.”

This sense of reinvention comes through in her personal style, for one. “I look at some people older than myself, some in their 60s or so, and I think they get stuck in a certain era. I don’t want to get stuck,” Åkerman says. “I want to dress in a way that has an edge, but is still elegant.” As the old adage goes, you should enter the New Year as you mean to go on, and Åkerman’s Vogue moment does exactly that, with moto jackets, distressed jeans and high-impact combinations of trenchcoats and thigh-high boots that the actor wears with self-possessed ease.

Leather jumpsuit, €3,200. Isabel Marant. Silver chain necklace. Hermès. 18k white gold earrings, €5,000, 18k white gold ring set with brilliant cut diamonds, €7,600. Both Cartier. Heels. Diesel. . Photo: Linus Morales

Leather blazer. Magda Butrym. Crinkle effect denim trousers, €​​1,447. Diesel. Leather belt, €119. Gestuz. 18k white gold earrings with diamonds. Rare Jewelry . Photo: Linus Morales

What else, exactly, will this metamorphosis entail? “It’s been a rough couple of years with Covid and the strike, so I want to come out next year with a bang,” Åkerman says. She’s tight-lipped on the details, but there is already momentum in getting her “new era” into gear. “When I’m not working, I have lists that go on for ages. Emails, calls and meetings, all continued work behind the scenes to build this new phase for myself,” she says. “It will be more about building things from the ground up, finding my own writers and teams. I want to be creating more than I am waiting. So that excites me a lot.”

If this steadfast determination is anything to go by, Åkerman is sitting firmly in the driver's seat to navigate some major new roadway ahead – but long-time followers can rest assured that the bubbly blonde they’ve grown to love isn’t going anywhere. She wraps our conversation with a line fit to tie off the most charming of rom-coms in a sweet bow: “I’m just a goofball and a pretty happy-go-lucky person – and a mum. A regular person who just really enjoys life.”