Gísli Örn Garðarsson

Gísli Örn Garðarsson (born 15 December 1973) is an Icelandic actor and director. He is one of the founders of Vesturport, a theatre and film company based in Reykjavík, and is also sometimes a scriptwriter and producer. Before focusing on acting, he competed internationally as a gymnast.

Gísli Örn on Media Catalunya in 2018

Early life and educationEdit

Gísli Örn was born in Reykjavík but grew up in Oslo. His father, Garðar Gíslason, is a teacher; his mother, Kolbrún Högnadóttir, worked for the publisher Fróði. Gísli Örn finished school at Hamrahlið College in Hlíðahverfi and studied Sociology at the University of Iceland and West European Studies at the University of Oslo before completing training in drama at the Iceland Academy of the Arts.[1] He had wanted to study drama in Oslo but failed to gain entry.[2][3] For many years he was a gymnast, competing for the Icelandic, Norwegian, and Danish national teams and belonging to the elite Ármann club together with Guðjón Guðmundsson, who was national champion in his age group for several years;[4] he considered becoming a gymnastics coach but found it unappealing.[1]


Gísli Örn has appeared in many Icelandic films, beginning in 2001 with a major role in Dramarama. That year he also co-founded the drama company Vesturport with 13 others.[1] In 2010 he had a supporting role in the Hollywood film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

He made his directing début with a circus-themed production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Reykjavík City Theatre in 2003, also playing Romeo. The production's success led to an invitation to transfer it to the Young Vic in London, from where it moved in 2004 to the Playhouse Theatre.[5] He has since directed further stage productions, including an adaptation of Kafka's The Metamorphosis in association with David Farr and the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, which toured in many European countries and the US in addition to the UK and Iceland. Büchner's Woyzeck at the BAM Next Wave Festival in 2008, directed by Gísli Örn, was Vesturport's first appearance in the US;[6] with the American Repertory Theater production of The Heart of Robin Hood, also written by Farr, he became the first Icelander to direct on Broadway.[7] He has also acted as producer and scriptwriter in some Vesturport projects.

Gísli Örn's directorial work draws on his gymnastics experience and is often described as very physical and highly theatrical.[5][7][8][9][10][11] Beginning with Woyzeck, the productions have often included music specially composed by Nick Cave.[2]

Selected theatre workEdit

Selected filmographyEdit


In addition to awards won by Vesturport, Gísli Örn received a Shooting Stars Award at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival for his role in Children.[2][24] In June 2010 he was awarded the Order of the Falcon, Knight's Cross, for services to Icelandic culture.[25][26]

Personal lifeEdit

Gísli Örn has a younger sister, Rakel.[1] He has two children with his partner, Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir, who is also a member of Vesturport.[27]


  1. ^ a b c d Jóhanna Ingvarsdóttir (13 October 2001). "'Þráin eftir frelsinu er rík'". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic).
  2. ^ a b c d e Merete Skogrand (31 December 2011). "Gisli ble oppringt av Nick Cave klokka åtte om morgenen". Dagbladet (in Norwegian).
  3. ^ "Gíslis saga". Dagens Næringsliv (subscription required) (in Norwegian). 23 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Guðjón Guðmundsson íslandsmeistari í fimleikum í aðalviðtali: 'Umfram allt falleg íþrótt'". Æskan (in Icelandic). 1 April 1989. p. 10.
  5. ^ a b c d Marc Lee (10 October 2005). "The action man of the theatre". Daily Telegraph.
  6. ^ a b "Iceland Abroad: Vesturport's Woyzeck". Iceland.is. 2008.
  7. ^ a b c K. Kelly Nestruck (12 January 2015) [9 January 2015]. "The Heart of Robin Hood: An old tale revamped – jungle gym included". The Globe and Mail.
  8. ^ a b Vincent Dowd (3 February 2006). "Circus arts take to the stage". BBC news.
  9. ^ a b c Patti Hartigan (7 December 2013). "Natural world looms large in ART's 'The Heart of Robin Hood'". Boston Globe.
  10. ^ a b Helen Shaw (9 October 2008). "Vaulting ambition: An Icelandic gymnast-turned-director puts Woyzeck through its paces". Time Out. New York.
  11. ^ a b Tone B. Værvågen (28 December 2011). "Farlig og fysisk". Aftenposten (in Norwegian).
  12. ^ Michael Billington (2 October 2003). "Romeo and Juliet, Young Vic, London". The Guardian.
  13. ^ a b Jon Pareles (13 October 2008). "Shaking Up 'Woyzeck' With Earthy Rock and Flying Trapeze". The New York Times.
  14. ^ "Theatre and Dance: Nights at the Circus". Leeds: BBC. 15 March 2006.
  15. ^ Nelson Pressley (21 February 2013). "At Kennedy Center, 'Metamorphosis' turns Kafka's tale on its side". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Joel Brown (21 February 2013). "Climbing the walls with Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'". Boston Globe.
  17. ^ Charles Spencer (22 December 2008). "At passion's wintry heart". Daily Telegraph.
  18. ^ John Stoehr (2009). "He may be from Iceland, but this Don Juan is hot". Charleston City Paper.
  19. ^ "Magnað sjónarspil: Ný leikgerð á Faust frumsýnd á Stóra sviði Borgarleikhússins". Pressan (in Icelandic). 12 January 2010.
  20. ^ Isabel Winklbauer (20 October 2013). "Die Insel der Gerächten". Die Nachtkritik (in German).
  21. ^ "The A.R.T.'s Production of "The Heart of Robin Hood" to Open on Broadway on March 29, 2015" (press release). American Repertory Theater. 2 December 2014.
  22. ^ Ásdís Ásgeirsdóttir (2 September 2016). "Helvíti gott ferðalag". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). Gísli Örn had a contract for five seasons of this British series, but renegotiated it to appear only in the first season in order to have more time with his family. In the event the series was not renewed after Season 1.
  23. ^ "Gísli Örn Garðarsson". Icelandic Film Centre. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  24. ^ Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir (14 February 2007). "Sjá, stjörnurnar kvikna". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic).
  25. ^ "Gísli Örn Garðarsson awarded The Order of the Falcon, the Knights Cross". Vesturport. 15 October 2010.
  26. ^ "Fálkaorðan: Orðuhafaskrá" (in Icelandic). Office of the President of Iceland. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  27. ^ "Gísli Örn og Nína Dögg eignuðust son". DV (in Icelandic). 3 December 2011.

External linksEdit