She uses instinct and intellect to solve crime; he uses the barrel of his .44 Magnum. Yet, for all their differences, the man who created Detective Sarah Lund has confirmed the star of The Killing was based on Clint Eastwood.
As the third and final season of the Danish crime drama begins later this month, Soren Sveistrup revealed his love of Dirty Harry and the spaghetti westerns.
"I've always been fond of Clint Eastwood," he told The Independent on Sunday. "The parts he plays are so silent, sometimes a bit biblical. If you watch Dirty Harry, he's not especially likeable and I like that paradox about a character. At the time, the whole picture of female detectives was so disappointing – high-heeled, with a lot of mascara, looking good, dating the guy from forensics … you just couldn't believe in it."
Sveistrup was even going to have Lund wearing a poncho, emulating Eastwood in Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy. There was only one problem: Lund couldn't pull her gun quite so quickly from behind a poncho.
Lund, played by Sofie Grabol, settled for a black-and-white sweater in season one. By the next series, her preference was for a blood-red version. Publicity shots for the final season suggest her new sweater will be the darkest yet, in tune with her emotional detachment.
The moment a love interest for Lund was mooted as a plot line, Grabol stormed into Sveistrup's office to protest and reminded the show's creator of the detective's roots. "I am Clint Eastwood … he doesn't have a girlfriend", she argued.
Sveistrup credits the small but dedicated BBC4 audience for giving The Killing "a rebirth" after it failed to generate much publicity elsewhere in Europe, despite rave reviews. "I went on holiday to Thailand with my family and I was just checking emails and suddenly there were 15 emails from publishers in England saying, 'wow, this is good – can we buy the book?'. It just exploded. That meant a lot."
The Killing III begins, as usual, with a single murder. A dead sailor discovered in Copenhagen's port leads Lund into a murky world of finance and politics. Sveistrup considers bankers to be bigger baddies than bikers and wanted to stick to the political themes that served the first two series so well.
"We had a lot of trouble with biker gangs in Denmark, but, for me, they're not big enough. Politically, this is the final step – because we started out [in series one] in city hall; then we had the minister of justice; now we have the PM, and opponents in the financial sector."
It will be the last time Grabol and Sveistrup collaborate on this show, but the director has had plenty of international offers so the pair may well reunite.