“It’s important to show that not only guys can be the heroes”: 15-year-old Kerstin Linden on stepping into the role of Ronja

By Emma Thimgren

Photo: Netflix / Audrius Solominas.

40 years after the first film adaptation, Astrid Lindgren's epic tale of Ronja the Robber’s Daughter finally gets its deserved fantasy treatment in the new top-ranking Netflix series. Vogue Scandinavia speaks with the rising star Kerstin Linden about booking her dream role

The book about Ronja the Robber’s Daughter by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren has captured hearts ever since it was first published in 1981. A beloved film adaptation was released in 1984, and then three years ago, it was revealed that the story would be adapted once again as an ambitious TV series divided into 12 parts. It’s been a highly-anticipated venture that brought with it many big risks – most notably the possibility of disappointing devoted Lindgren fans. Now, the first half of the series has been released and, luckily, it has not disappointed. On the contrary, the reimagined take on the classic quickly rose to the number one spot of Netflix releases and has been met with high praise from critics. Not least for its 15-year-old breakout star Kerstin Linden, who was tasked with taking over the titular role.


“There’s always going to be people who question why we would make a new version. But what we’re doing is something new, our own interpretation,” Kerstin Linden says of the reactions to the premiere. “With 10 hours of episodes, instead of a two-hour-long movie, we’ve been able to extend the story. We have also had access to very lifelike special effects, which didn’t exist 40 years ago. It’s been a bit scary, but it seems like those who have seen it like it, which is great”, she remarks.

Photo: Audrius Solominas

Despite her young age, Linden is no newcomer to the film industry. If her face seems familiar, you might have seen her in the Vilhelm Moberg classic The Emigrants (Utvandrarna) from 2021, or the Swedish Television's Christmas calendar Kronprinsen som försvann. Linden is still in school, so this year's Easter break has been busy with back-to-back interviews. I reach her over a video call, where she joins me from Södermalm in Stockholm where she lives.

Ronja and I are alike in some ways, I’m also very playful and goofy, I relate to her wild side.

Kerstin Linden

“I was asked to audition for the project, and at first I was a bit hesitant. I wondered if there really should be a new version, but when I read the script I thought it was great. Ronja is my favourite of all the Astrid Lindgren characters. I've watched the old movie an infinite amount of times, so it felt amazing getting to play her. The story is so wide-ranging, it’s got everything from beautiful nature to friendship, betrayal, and all the lovely mythical creatures. It’s an epic adventure”, she says.

Kerstin Linden (right) with fellow actor Jack Bergenholtz Henriksson (left) who plays Birk. Photo: @kerstin_linden_official

The story taking place in medieval times, meant that production lasted unusually long and took almost a year. To rightly catch the beautiful shifts of the seasons in Swedish nature they had to travel all over the country. However, the chilling scene at ‘helvetesgapet’ (‘The Gap of Hell’) where Ronja and Birk bravely leap across a precipice, was actually shot at a parking lot. “Let’s just say I’ve grown tired of living my life in a hotel, there’s been quite a bit of that lifestyle”, Kerstin laughs.

Differing from the other sets Linden has been a part of, the making of Ronja also started with a week of workshops to prepare for the role. During this time the actors got to know their characters with the help of a coach, and all of them had to learn how to ski and ride horses. “Ronja is a very multifaceted character, she’s brave, adventurous, playful, and stubborn. She’s really the one in charge. What I like about Astrid Lindgren is that she writes these amazing, strong female protagonists. It’s important to show that not only guys can be the heroes. Ronja and I are alike in some ways, I’m also very playful and goofy, I relate to her wild side” she says.

Photo: Netflix / Audrius Solominas.

Kerstin is no stranger to costume dramas, but Ronja's particular look was important for her to get into character. In this version the costume department wanted Ronja to be as similar as possible to the illustrations in the book, with her golden curls. “It helped that both the costume and styling are so different from what I normally wear. When I put on the curly wig and all the thousands of layers of clothing I instantly felt like Ronja” she says.

Set to start high school this year, of course with theatre as her main subject, Linden aims to surpass the label of a child actor and longs to take on more adult roles. “I would love to continue doing costume dramas, but I look forward to playing grown-up and more serious characters in movies directed to an older audience. I think I would also like to direct”, she says.

The second half of Ronja the Robber’s Daughter will be released later this year. With a talent as bright as Linden’s, it likely won’t be long before we get to see her in her next project.