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Iceland Mag

Culture

10 World Famous Icelanders. Do You Know Any of Them?

By Sara McMahon

  • Björk Guðmundsdóttir is probably the most famous Icelander of them all. Photo/Bioohilia

  • The Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men took the world by storm when their single "Little Talks" was released in 2011. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

  • Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is the former Prime Minister of Iceland and the wold’s first openly gay PM. Photo/GVA

  • Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen is one of Iceland’s most accomplished football players. Photo/Daníel Rúnarsson

Icelanders like to boast about their home-grown celebrities. Here is a list of ten famous Icelanders.

 

With a population of mere 320 thousand and having been under foreign rule up until 1944, Icelanders can be quite sensitive when it comes to measuring themselves against other (and bigger) countries. Everybody needs a good ego-boost every now and then and what better way of doing so than by tooting one’s own horn.

You might have heard Icelanders pride themselves on their country‘s spectacular nature, crystal clear water, amazing swimming pools and that volcano with the unpronounceable name, Eyjafjallajökull. Recently they’ve taken to boasting about their very own internationally-acclaimed celebrities.  Who are these celebrities, you might ask – well, here are a few you can get familiar with:

1. Top of the list is the queen of quirk Björk Guðmundsdóttir, who is probably the most famous Icelander of them all. People’s knowledge of Iceland is more often than not limited to the fact that it’s Björk’s birthplace. The musician is perhaps best known for her unique singing-voice as well as the infamous “swan dress” she wore to the Academy Awards in 2001.

2. Actor and director Baltasar Kormákur has become a household name after making it big in Hollywood. The director has a close professional relationship with American actor Mark Wahlberg and directed him in both Contraband as well as the action film 2 Guns.

3.The post-rock band Sigur Rós has a large and faithful fan base all over the world. Although its members try their best to keep a low profile, their music has been featured in countless films and they play at sold-out gigs everywhere from Tokyo to New York.

4.The Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men took the world by storm when their single “Little Talks” was released in 2011. As of March 2013 it has sold over two million copies in the US alone. Last year the band performed in T in the Park Festival in Scotland, Lollapalooza in Brazil and Chile, Coachella, Bonnaroo Music Festival and the ever popular Glastonbury Festival.

5. Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen is one of Iceland’s most accomplished football players. He made his name with Bolton Wanderers and later played with Premier League club Chelsea and the Spanish team FC Barcelona.

6. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is the former Prime Minister of Iceland and the wold’s first openly gay PM. Jóhanna had the undesirable job of governing the country during the months after the economic crash in 2008. Sigurðardóttir and her wife, Jónína Leósdóttir, were extremely private about their personal lives during the time Jóhanna was a member of parliament so it came as a surprise when Jónína published a book in 2013 entitled Við Jóhanna (Jóhanna and I) where she tells the story of their relationship.

7. Actor Darri Ingólfsson gained international attention in 2012 for his role in the television series Last Resort. However, it was the role of charming yet evil Dr. Saxton in the hit series Dexter that really put Darri on the map. Popular website Buzzfeed.com even did a post about the actor, calling him a Ryan Gosling look-alike and listing nine reasons why one should get to know Ingólfsson (one of them being his nationality).

8. You might not be familiar with the talented actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson yet, but something tells us that you will be soon enough. Some may have seen Ólafur in his role as the drunken helicopter pilot in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or starring alongside Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the HBO television series True Detective. Movie fans will soon be able to enjoy his talent even further in the film A Walk Among the Tombstones which also stars veteran actor Liam Neeson.

9. In 1980, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir became Iceland’s, and the worlds, first female president. Before her inauguration there was wide-spread debate whether a woman, and a single mother at that, could handle the responsibilities that came with the position. Not only did Vigdís prove those people wrong, she became one of Iceland’s most beloved presidents to date.

10. Actress Anita Briem gained international notice as Jane Seymour in the television series The Tudors. She also played the role of Hannah Ásgeirsson in the adventure film Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The actress resides in Hollywood with her husband and new-born daughter.

 

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