“I treat men and cars the same”: Evin Ahmad and Marie Göranzon join forces for Zeekr’s new take on classic car commercials

By Allyson Shiffman

Photo: Rami Hanna, Agency FWB, Production Blonde Inc

Emerging actor Evin Ahmad and stage legend Marie Göranzon appear in a high-concept short film for luxury electric car company Zeekr. We visit the snowy set of the shoot to speak with the two icons of their respective generations

On a Sunday evening in Stockholm, a slick electric car sitting in the parking lot of the elegant restaurant Rummel is dusted by the falling snow. Inside, visible through the massive windows, actor Evin Ahmad paces through the dining room, wearing a sharp-shouldered ankle-grazing pinstripe coat. On the opposite end of the building, legendary stage actor Marie Göranzon is taking a quiet break between scenes.

This is not the set of a hot Scandi indie or a can’t-miss streaming series, but rather that of a high-concept short film powered by luxury electric car company, Zeekr. The Swedish-designed car, which launched in 2021, recently opened its first Nordic showroom, bringing its eco-friendly vehicles to the sustainability-minded Scandi market. Here, the shift from petrol to electric is a full-blown movement, one which Zeekr enables.

“We love the idea of being ahead of the curve and that’s why we don't want to do car commercials in the traditional way,” says Christopher Holmqvist, Head of Sweden at Zeekr. “We want our narrative to have a deeper purpose that goes hand-in-hand with our values.”

Photo: Rami Hanna, Styling by Hanna MW

Photo: Rami Hanna, Styling by Hanna MW

Though this marks the first time that Ahmad and Göranzon find themselves sharing the screen, it’s not the first time they’ve met. The actors were introduced some years ago at a book fair in Gothenburg, where both women were presenting books they had written. The connection was immediate. “We talked about being working class and about adapting our language,” says Ahmad, who grew up in Akalla. “As an actor, you have to speak neutrally. No class marks, basically.” Göranzon, who grew up in Linköping, which also boasts a distinctive affectation, nods. Shortly thereafter, Göranzon sent Ahmad a letter. “I was like, ‘Wow, Marie Göranzon the legend actually send me a letter,” Ahmad says. Göranzon adds, “I said that I read your book, and I liked it very much.”

Turned out, the two women had more in common than their regional accents: both had auditioned for drama school using the same text, a monologue by the character Nina in Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Drama school itself, however, was a bit different for a woman of 81-year-old Göranzon’s generation. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but for your generation, didn’t women have to practise walking in heels and a corset?” Ahmad, 33, asks Göranzon. “Yes,” she replies.

Behind the scenes of Zeekr’s high-concept commercial. Photo: Rami Hanna, Styling by Hanna MW

Photo: Rami Hanna, Styling by Hanna MW

It’s a fitting topic of conversation, given the material the women are shooting today. The short film is met by a voice over based on the poem ‘Sacred Emily’ by feminist icon and poet Gertrude Stein (the famous phrase “a rose is a rose is a rose” is swapped for “a car is a car is a car”). It wasn’t necessarily the script, however, that drew the two actors to the project. “I heard Evin’s name and I said, ‘That will be OK, I like her very much’. And this car is not a dirty one,” says Göranzon, referencing both the fact that the car is electric and that the workers who manufacture it are treated fairly. “I like the idea of two women, with me representing one generation and Marie representing another generation,” Ahmad adds. “I feel we have the same type of power in that we speak up. We’re a certain kind of woman, from different generations.” In that sense, the film doubles as a sort of passing of the torch.

Lucky for Zeekr, both women were up for it. In fact, it was a quote from Göranzon herself that served as the starting point for the project. “I treat men and cars the same. If they don’t work, I change them immediately.” “My mum said that to me,” Göranzon, who is currently on her second marriage to actor Jan Malmsjö, confirms.

Photo: Rami Hanna, Styling by Hanna MW

Photo: Rami Hanna, Styling by Hanna MW

Are Göranzon and Ahmad ‘car people’ themselves? Sort of. It was Malmsjö that taught Göranzon to drive – she didn’t get her license until she was 39 years old (she had tried and failed at 29). Ahmad, meanwhile, recalls one particular family “road trip” taken each summer while visiting her Kurdish relatives. “My mum is Kurdish from Syria and my dad is Kurdish from Iraq. So at that time, in order to get to my dad’s part of Kurdistan we had to take the car from Aleppo all the way to Slemani,” she says. “That road is extremely dangerous. I was constantly nauseous and there were mountains everywhere. When I think about it today – it was an insane trip to take.”

As for whether we’ll soon see Ahmad and Göranzon whipping around Stockholm in a Zeekr of their own, they’re certainly up for it. “I was at the Zeekr showroom event and I sat in the car and there’s just something about sitting in a car,” says Ahmad. If she were to attain her own Zeekr car, she would drive around blasting electronic music or maybe Tupac. What’s on Göranzon’s cruising playlist? “I’m old, I can’t answer that,” she says. Come on, I urge. “Okay,” she says. “Vivaldi.”