Entertainment & Arts

Q&A: The Night Manager director Susanne Bier

Susanne Bier Image copyright Getty Images

The director of BBC drama The Night Manager has said there needs to be more women in the the film and TV industry.

Susanne Bier is the only female nominee in the category of outstanding director of a limited series at this year's Emmys.

The ceremony takes place on Sunday night in Los Angeles - and The Night Manager has 12 nominations in total.

Bier, who is Danish, has told the BBC women need to be seen to direct all genres of films and TV shows, and not just "romantic comedies and family-oriented" movies.

The Night Manager, based on the book of the same name by John Le Carre, was a huge hit with viewers when it was broadcast earlier this year on BBC One.

The show itself is nominated for outstanding limited series, where it faces competition from Roots, American Crime, Fargo and The People v. OJ Simpson. There are also nods in the acting categories for Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Coleman and Hugh Laurie.

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Image caption Tom Hiddleston starred in The Night Manager, which was directed by Bier

The Night Manager is nominated for outstanding limited series - a tough category. What do you think its chances of success are?

Yes it's very tough, they are really good, they're just excellent series. I know it's a cliche to say I'm honoured to be in this company but in this case it's absolutely true. I've got no idea [who will win]! The People vs OJ Simpson is such an iconic piece of American history and it's been huge, it's a hard one to beat, but let's see. I think Night Manager is just as good in terms of its content, but OJ Simpson might hit something which is very present in the US just now.

It's hard not to notice you're the only woman in the category for outstanding directing for a limited series.

It's interesting, there was an event at the Directors Guild where all the directors in all the different categories were celebrated, and there was one other woman and me. Television is better than film but still far, far from where it needs to be. We are half of the population, and out of 30 directors there were two women.

What do you think the industry could do to change that?

I think stepping off the default, habitual way of thinking and approaching things. Get a female director to do a superhero movie, step out of the habitual thinking where you assume women will do a romantic comedy or family-orientated movie. Pull the women directors out of the cliched place they have in society, because only then will it change for women. I think it takes a couple of successes to change that.

When you bring in potential directors for interviews, you should stop being predisposed to hear a certain way. There's a certain sort of manner of speaking that men have and women have, and you stop looking for a certain way of speaking and a certain way of answering. In our society girls and boys are brought up differently but that doesn't change the fact a woman would be just as good, it just means their way of approaching things might be slightly different.

You've directed every episode of The Night Manager, which is quite unusual, do you think it's important for a series to have the same director throughout for consistency?

At this point in time television is so good, and audiences are so demanding, and I think having one director is having a single vision, and single vision is sort of a way of generating a kind of distinct artistic voice within a television series.

But of course it's going to be difficult if you have a longer series for a director to do 15 episodes, but with limited series, they really need to be single-visioned, they need to have one artistic approach. That's helped by having just one writer and other elements.

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Image caption Bier has also directed films A Second Chance, Serena and Love is All You Need

Because The Night Manager was so successful, naturally everybody wants to know if there's any way of continuing it - but that's difficult until there's another John Le Carre book to base it on.

We'd all like to get together and party again because we had so much fun! I think we'd all love for it to be a possibility but because there's no book, it's not an easy thing to pull off. And none of us are going to attempt it if we don't totally trust that it's going to be just as good. I think John Le Carre would have to be involved in one way or the other, and whether it's a book or a conversation I can't say, but he definitely needs to be part of it.

On another issue - is it true you're keen to direct the next James Bond movie?

I would be honoured to do that, but any discussion about that is completely and utterly rumours! I, like any other sensible director on this planet, would be honoured and pleased to do James Bond but there is no news.

Do you think TV is becoming the new cinema - in that now people stay at home with their wide-screen TV and subscription streaming services?

I think there is a need for people to go to the cinema because I think it's a very different experience. It's a night out with your friends or your spouse. So I think there is a huge need for cinema and a huge need for good grown-up movies as well. I don't think TV replaces it, but it's undeniable that television is so exciting. I binge watch and love the fact I can have 10 hours of being with characters that are truly interesting, but I think it's probably more the lonely experience. If you talk to people about it, a lot of them watch TV on their own, but with the cinema you usually go with someone else.

Given that Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston are no longer an item, do you know who Tom will be walking down the red carpet with on Sunday?

I'm going to ask him if he wants to walk down with me!

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