What makes actor Fedja van Huêt so popular?

“Who wouldn’t want to work with Fedja van Huêt?” Producer Errol Nayci makes it immediately clear that the actor is always an added value, whether in a TV series, film or play. Multifunctional too.

Just look at Van Huêt’s recent work: apparently effortlessly he switches from the adventurous entrepreneur Anthony Fokker into Flying Dutchmenvia the nerdy plane spotter Mat Herben in The Year of Fortuyn to a horror father in Speak No Evil. In the latter film, he and his wife Karina Smulders play a very sinister couple.

“You can go either way with him,” says Nayci. “When you look at him, something always happens. He can play both powerful and vulnerable. You don’t see that often.”

During the previous edition of the Netherlands Film Festival, Van Huêt (The Hague, 1973) took the stage with a Golden Calf for his leading role in The Condemnation. In that film about the Deventer murder case, he portrayed the tenacious journalist Bas Haan. This year the film will be on the NFF narcosis premiered, a family drama about mourning in which Van Huêt plays a father who disappears after a dive. His wife, played by Thekla Reuten, has to deal with the loss together with her young children. The film is the Dutch entry for the Oscars.


if narcosis is nominated for an Oscar, it comes full circle: when Van Huêt was still at drama school in Maastricht, he already played the leading role in Charactera father-son drama by director Mike van Diem that won an Oscar in 1998.

Van Huêt flourished as an actor with Hollandia, a theater group that for a long time played alone on location: in market gardeners, car scrap yards and factories. Such an avant-garde approach makes actors more than usual part of the creative process. You learn to adjust the space to your liking, something that comes in handy on a film set. At Hollandia he showed all his versatility. As an evil stranger in The bittersweetvirtuoso switching between many double roles The Fall of the Gods. After he joined Ivo van Hoves Toneelgroep Amsterdam, he shone as a macho seller of castles in the air in Glengarry Glen Ross. In the last ten years he has mainly focused on series and films. The fact that he can disappear into roles there too will partly have to do with the great theater experience. Experience that not every famous head has.

The fact that Van Huêt can ‘disappear’ despite his status as a celebrity was also nice for director Martijn de Jong. narcosis is his debut film and actually he wasn’t looking for familiar faces. However, Van Huêt’s qualities were very suitable for the role. “He only has a few scenes and has to put down an unforgettable father,” says De Jong. “He understands all cinematic means. In a complicated scene we looked for a natural way for Fedja to enter the shot. Suddenly he came with a perfect movement. He went with the cameraman’s cadence and understood exactly what was needed at that moment.” Nayci: „He is very generous in his game, actually also an ideal declarant. He can enjoy it when someone else does something nice with a scene. Fedja will never smile.”

With a pretty face you can also easily be typecast, but he manages to avoid that. For example, the recent Herben role was a strong piece of counter-casting. Whether he plays villain, hero or sucker, a cash is a slightly pained expression, as if he finds life hard.

De Jong: „He has a warm appearance, but there is something mysterious about it. You can’t really put your finger on it.” A certain reserve. Reuten also says that in the press folder narcosis: “He always carries a lot of secret with him, in and behind his eyes.” Van Huêt calls himself in a recent interview with The New York Times about Speak No Evil one of the ‘usual suspects’ in the Netherlands who is ‘blessed with a lot of work’. It is not surprising that he continues to think internationally, also to prevent overkill in his own country. He will play a villain in a still mysterious series by the American tech giant Amazon.

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