The Real Story Behind Netflix’s ‘Clark’

Bill Skarsgård will play Clark Olofsson, a notorious Swedish gangster.
Castle Rock
By  · Published on May 13th, 2020

Netflix has tapped Bill Skarsgard for the lead role in Clark, an upcoming series about Swedish gangster Clark Olofsson from director Jonas Åkerlund (Polar). His fascination with true crime makes him a suitable choice for the project.

Olofsson is regarded as a pop criminal because he captured people’s imaginations with his antics. Despite spending the majority of his life behind bars for continually breaking the law, Olofsson’s good looks, charismatic personality, intelligence, and involvement in the most famous robbery in Swedish history turned him into a media darling.

His life of crime began at a young age. Growing up, he spent time in an institute for young offenders after engaging in some petty crimes. However, he grabbed headlines in 1965 — when he was 18-years-old — after he broke into the country estate of Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander and stole fruit and vegetables from the greenhouse.

The young criminal got caught up in a more serious incident later that same year, assaulting two police officers. Olofsson’s actions resulted in his first sentence in an adult prison, and while his time behind bars was short-lived, it didn’t take long until he was locked up again.

In 1966, Olofsson and his friend Gunnar Norgren robbed a bicycle shop and tried to flee from the scene while two policemen pursued them. Shots were fired by both Olofsson and Norgren during the confrontation, but it was Norgren’s bullet that connected with one of the officers, who passed away in hospital 16 days later.

That incident launched one of the biggest manhunts in Swedish history. When the pair were eventually caught in August of 1966, Olofsson was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for attempted murder. Norgren, meanwhile, was sentenced to 12 years for actual murder.

During this time in prison, Olofsson became friends with Jan-Erik Olsson, and this is where his story gets really interesting. In 1973, Olsson was furloughed from his sentence and decided to take the opportunity to rob a bank in Stockholm. After wounding a police officer and taking four employees hostage, Olsson demanded some cash, a getaway car, and the release of Olofsson.

One of the demands was met. Olofsson was ultimately released from prison and joined his friend in the bank, where they spent five days together before surrendering. But here’s where things get weird: the hostages took a liking to them.

Even though the captors reportedly threatened to kill them, the hostages and the criminals ended up bonding with one another. This led to the popularization of the phrase “Stockholm syndrome.” Olofsson even remained friends with one of the hostages, Kristen Enmark, afterward.

The robbery also turned both criminals into celebrities. Their good looks gained them many female admirers, many of whom wrote to Olsson after he was sent back to the penitentiary. Olofsson, meanwhile, was eventually acquitted of any wrongdoing as he claimed he was acting in accordance with his partner-in-crime in order to keep the hostages safe.

But it didn’t take long for trouble to come his way again. In 1975, Olofsson robbed a bank in Denmark and then proceeded to go on a seafaring adventure around the Mediterranean. When he returned, he was arrested and sentenced, but he eventually escaped from prison.

The subsequent manhunt for Olofsson took place throughout Europe. During his adventure, he ended up in Belgium and met his future wife on a train to Germany. They got married in 1976 and had three children.

In 1976, Olofsson also robbed a bank in Gothenburg, which was the largest criminal exchange in Swedish history at the time. He was arrested a few hours after committing the crime, but he escaped from prison again three weeks later after getting access to a truck and driving it through the gates.

After he was released from prison, Olofsson vowed to change his life. He went to college to study journalism in 1979, but higher education wasn’t for him. During a boating excursion in the Stockholm archipelago in 1980, he got into a fight with some fishermen and was sentenced to another two years in prison.

Spending most of his adult life behind bars didn’t inspire Olofsson to become a law-abiding citizen. He was released in 1991 and got into some minor grievances with the law after being suspected of planning a bank robbery and getting caught while drunk driving. But he still had plans to commit more ambitious crimes.

In 1998, Oloffson was arrested in Denmark for leading an international drug smuggling operation. His downfall came after he was caught smuggling 14 kilos of amphetamine into the country. In 1999, he was sent back to the cage for another 14 years, which was the biggest sentence for a drug offense in the country’s history at the time.

Old habits die hard, and this is especially true for Olofsson. After regaining his freedom in 2006, he returned to the world of drug smuggling. In 2008, Swedish police discovered that he was at the center of a narcotics gang, and the authorities caught him trying to smuggle cannabis from the Netherlands. His subsequent punishment saw him receive another 14-year sentence and a lifetime expulsion from Sweden.

Olofsson was let out of prison again in 2018 and has been keeping relatively quiet ever since. Upon release, he regained his citizenship and claimed that he was going to enjoy being a pensioner. It wouldn’t be surprising if he returns to the life of crime, but hopefully his troubles with the law are behind him.

While the significance of Olofsson’s crimes shouldn’t be downplayed, there’s no denying that his story is fascinating. His daring bank robberies and jailbreaks, as well as his likability, will inspire some entertaining television. As far as true crime stories go, few tales are as wild and adventurous as Olofsson’s.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.