Bodnia, who plays Danish detective Martin Rohde, left fans of the Danish-Swedish drama devastated when he dropped out of the third series, leaving Saga Norén, his character’s eccentric, neurodivergent Swedish counterpart, to find a new Danish sidekick.
The easy-going, charismatic Rohde had been hugely popular with fans of the gritty Nordic Noir drama.
At the time Bodnia, who is Jewish, put the decision down to a difference of opinion with scriptwriters, but in an interview with Israel’s Walla! website last week, he cited worsening anti-Jewish sentiment across the Oresund Bridge in Sweden.
“It’s growing, and especially in Malmo, where we shot The Bridge in Sweden, it’s not very nice and comfortable to be there as a Jewish person,” he told the Walla! portal.
“When they didn’t have the script right I could say, ‘no, I don’t feel so safe there’. It’s not funny. It’s growing. We have to deal with it every day and we have to fight against it.”
Jewish people in Malmo have long complained of growing harassment in the city, where 43 per cent of the population have a non-Swedish background, with Iraqis, Lebanese and stateless Palestinians some of the largest groups.
The Jewish community centre in the city is heavily fortified, with security doors and bollards on the outside pavement to prevent car bombs.
But Jehoshua Kaufman, a prominent member of the community, said he was surprised that Bodnia felt more uncomfortable in Sweden than in Copenhagen, given the terror attack on the Danish capital’s synagogue a year ago.
“They killed two people in Copenhagen, not in Malmo,” he said. “I find it very peculiar. I find it funny.”
Bodnia made an appearance at Copenhagen’s synagogue in the days after the attack last year to pay his respects to Dan Uzan, the security guard who was killed.
He told Walla! that he was so worried by the issue of anti-semitism that he had lobbied the scriptwriters to bring the issue into the plot of the third series, pushing them to have his character Rhode encounter Muslims with fanatical anti-Jewish beliefs while in prison.
“The situation is if people go to jail, they have this possibility to grow their hate of Jewish people,” he said. “It’s growing in the prison. So I suggested that when Martin is undercover in the prison, why didn’t we do something about that?”.