Tom of Finland
Tom of Finland tells the inspiring story of the extremely influential figure not only in the history of the twentieth century, but also in gay culture, Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland. The film is a powerful and emotional journey throughout the majority of Laaksonen’s life. It also expands upon the gay liberation movement.
Recently, the film’s star, Pekka Strang had the opportunity to speak about the different aspects of working on the project. When asked how he began his journey in becoming such an iconic figure in history, he said it all started with research and lots of it. Not only did Strang read any and every book or article he could find about Mr. Laaksonen, but also took the time to speak to several of his personal friends he was able to contact through the Tom of Finland Foundation, located in Los Angeles, California.
“The role took a great deal of physical and emotional dedication,” revealed Strang. “It also took at least three-and-a-half hours to put on the makeup.” He enjoyed utilizing this time however, to really think and settle any nerves he had before filming each day. The film spans a 40-year timeline; when Strang spoke on what it was like playing an individual over such a large span of his life, he said, “I’ve been 20, but I’ve never been 60.” Because of that, he confessed he constantly had to remind himself that age isn’t just in the body, but also in the mind.
Throughout the interview, Strang spoke very highly about his experience making the film, but what was most interesting was one of his methods for getting into character. Most actors use memories of certain events to help them emote—Strang does something similar, but very unique. “Music means a lot to me,” noted Strang, as he described his process of making his own soundtrack for the character using influential and emotional songs from different points of his own life to emphatically bring himself fully into the role. Artists on his playlist included Adele, Eminem, and Kanye West. While he didn’t go into detail about what specific songs he used, his choices clearly did a forceful job, inspiring him to bring out the powerhouse performance he displayed throughout the entire film.
Tom of Finland is in consideration for Best Foreign Film. This is a huge achievement not only for director Dome Karukoski, but for everyone involved with the project. The film currently has a limited release, which will eventually broaden. Seek out this inspiring story on the big screen. After seeing the movie for yourself, you will know what Tom meant when he said: “But I knew – right from the start – that my men were going to be proud and happy men!”