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Master of Adaptation Matti Leinikka Plays a Powerful Villain on Screen

Actor Matti Leinikka shot by Erk Flinth

One of the keys to being successful as an actor in the incredibly competitive entertainment industry is adaptability; and that is one of the key traits that’s led Swedish actor Matti Leinikka to be such a sought after talent over the last few years.

From his phenomenal work in the film “The Gateway” to his emotional performance in the film “Cry Me A River,” Matti has demonstrated his ability to deliver stellar results while filming in uniquely challenging environments around the world time and time again.

In the horror mystery film “The Gateway” Matti seamlessly portrayed Gaunt Yokel, an intimidating villain who haunts the protagonist when she uncovers a chilling anomaly in a sinister and sparsely-populated forest. While the lead character Danni, played by Danni Smith, initially thinks she’s found a mysterious portal to a woodland paradise, she quickly discovers that she’s stumbled into a nightmare when Matti’s character Gaunt Yokel begins to haunt her dreams.

With Matti’s riveting portrayal sending chills through the spines of audiences, “The Gateway” was met with incredible success among viewers and festival judges. “The Gateway,” which also stars Tim Lueke (“Peephole”) and Martin Monahan (“Pervertigo,” “Knock Knock”), took home the Splitzie Award from the Buried Alive Film Festival, Atlanta, the Special Jury Prize and Honorable Mention Awards from the Nashville Film Festival and the New York City Horror Film Festival’s Best Sci-Fi Feature and Best Screenplay Awards.

“I very much enjoy playing one of the bad guys. It was easy to just slide into this mysterious world and play this hillbilly guy,” says Matti. “Scary movies are a different style so you have to draw upon some unique tools to make your character have a big impact on the story and the audience.”

Portraying a deranged hillbilly intent on hunting down the film’s protagonist was no easy role, yet Matti approached it with the meticulous professionalism he brings to every character he inhabits. For Matti, “The Gateway” offered a unique opportunity to tap into a dark and frightening character while demonstrating to filmgoers just how lonely, desolate, and dangerous forests can be when they’re haunted by such ominous characters as his.

“I like to work with people that really are brave and willing to try extreme things in their films,” explained Matti about working with director Jaron Henrie-McCrea and writer Carys Edwards. “These guys definitely had a cool and unique vision so I said yes to the film.”

Through his portrayal of a crazy, rural villain Matti once again proved his ability to immerse himself in diverse roles and his commitment to challenging himself as a performer. Though he plays the villain like he was born to do so-- his other work elucidates how compassionate and friendly he can be when the character and the story call for it.

In the powerful Swedish film “Cry Me A River” directed by Danielle Liljeqvist, which focuses on men openly displaying their emotions in public with a specific emphasis on crying, which to many is still considered to be a societal taboo, Matti gave an effortless performance where he once again revealed just how wide a range he has an actor. Taking on the key role as the Crying Man, Matti revealed his unique ability to cry on command while generating vibrant emotions that resonant with even the most solemn of audiences.

With famed Swedish celebrity Horace Engdahl (“BingoLotto,” “Babel”) providing excellent narration for the film, Matti’s performance in the film leads movie-goers explore challenging questions like, “How often do you cry, and why?”

Through his heart-wrenching performance in “Cry Me A River,” Matti helped prove that male actors don’t need to be constrained to stoic, robotic roles that refuse them opportunities to showcase their emotional range

Given his impressive ability to cry on cue, a talent that he’s gained from his decades of experience performing in the theatre, Matti was a natural fit for the project. As he’s discovered many times throughout the course of his career, his theatrical roots and willingness to embrace a diverse array of roles has often fueled his future performances by offering helpful insights which can be harnessed later on.

The smooth manner with which he manipulated his emotional state in “Cry Me A River” was mastered in no small part because of his countless interactive stage performances in front of live audiences. While countless actors struggle to meaningful portray human distress, Matti’s expansive history of roles gives him plenty of experience to draw upon so that he can ensure directors get the content they need. While some struggle to render themselves truly vulnerable before cameras, Matti has ceaselessly gone to the mat to prove the lengths he’ll go to nail a role.

Aside from his extensive work in other films like the recently released “Exposed” and the hit Swedish series “Amira Time,” Matti has also taken on a multitude of lead roles in a commercials around the globe, such as those for Ikea and the NYU Langone Medical Center.

When NYU’s Langone Medical Center needed to showcase the diversity of the city that never sleeps, for instance, they knew that Matti would be perfect for a role in their commercial. Filming in downtown New York City is never easy, but with an entire street blocked off and a tremendous coterie of international actors to work with, Matti shined on screen in an exciting commercial that aired around the city for four long years and still frequently runs online.

Intimacy isn’t always an easy thing to portray in front of the camera, but Matti’s ability to seamlessly meld with his fellow stars prove that he quickly clicks with those he works with. Perhaps that’s why American actor Andrew Nesbit was quick to provide praise for Matti when asked about their past performances together. “I would definitely consider him to be one of the most promising actors that I have ever worked with,” Nesbit explained. “Whenever we would perform together in an improv sketch, I knew that I could always rely on him to turn even the most banal prompt into a success story!”

Whether he’s filming with the stark wilderness in the background or enthralling audiences live on stage, Matti Leinikka’s diverse acting talents continue to shine and garner acclaim success; and, with fans and co-stars continually smitten with his impressive range, films like “The Gateway” and “Cry Me A River” are only a sign of what’s to come for this talented actor.

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