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Teddy Bear, a Danish movie about a bodybuilder's journey to move on from his smothering mother to a relationship with a woman who might be able to give him a real life, wants to change the meathead sterotype the public has tacked onto bodybuilders.
Real-life professional bodybuilder Kim Kold plays Dennis Peterson, and does a fine job of playing a lonely, thoughtful regular Joe trapped inside a giant muscular body. Dennis works as a security guard and lives with his domineering mother near Copenhagen. In an early scene in the movie, Dennis returns home from an awkward date but lies to his mother (Elsebeth Steentoft) and says he was at a movie. Though the tiny white-haired woman is dwarfed by her son, it is Dennis who cowers from her.
After seeing his wimpy uncle score a charming bride from Thailand, Dennis seeks advice on how to find one of his own. After telling his mother that he is off to Germany for a bodybuilding contest, he follows his uncle's counsel and heads to Pattaya City in Thailand to meet a bald, flabby American (David Winters)—the epitome of a dirty old man—in a bar. The shy bodybuilder is not enamored by the prostitutes Scott introduces to him, and, in one scene, Dennis recognizes the bar for what it really is—a refuge for old and desperate men who have to pay for the company of young women.
It is only when he goes to work out in a local Thai gym that he meets Toi (Lamaiporn Hougaard), who offers him the chance of a real relationship.
Director Mads Matthiesen and Kold started work together on a 2008 short film called Dennis, which features the same character, and Matthiesen told Muscle & Fitness that finding Kold was crucial for both projects.
“I needed to find a bodybuilder for the main part. I needed the look and the muscles. In DenMark The bodybuilder community is very small, so I didn’t know if I could find a bodybuilder that could act and therefore ultimately I didn’t know if I could do the film,” he said. “When [Kold] came for the first casting session I was very impressed by his talent and I knew that I had found someone very special. Kim had a natural acting talent. I would not have done Teddy Bear if Kim wouldn’t or couldn’t do it.”
|Fun Kim Kold Fact
Before he started bodybuilding, Kold was a professional soccer player. He played goalkeeper with Danish club Hvidovre and once lined up against legendary former Manchester United number one Peter Schmeichel. However, two broken ankles and other injuries sidelined his soccer aspirations in his mid-20s, and when his best friend asked him if he wanted to take up bodybuilding, Kold started a 20-year career that saw him compete at first as an amateur and later as a semi-pro.
Kold thinks that working in a character-driven independent production was a great way to take his fledgling steps as an actor. “Mads taught me a lot of things from Dennis up to Teddy Bear. He taught me how to prepare for things," said Kold.
The 47-year-old, who is a father and comes from a happy family, says Dennis is “a million miles” away from his own character.
"I have never met a bodybuilder like Dennis, and I have met a lot of bodybuilders," he told M&F recently in a phone interview. "I would not say that Dennis is the prototype of a bodybuilder."
For Matthiesen, the macho sport of bodybuilding was key to showing "that not all men with big muscles and tattoos are bad boys" and that loneliness can exact a toll on anyone.
"It was important for me that he was pumping iron and being very much into the sport as a kind of refuge and escape from dealing with his real issues. And it was a visual way of showing contrast in the film. Big man, little confidence—and so on."
And Kold was in huge shape for the movie. Though he stopped competing some five years ago, he made a comeback in May 2010 for a competition specifically with the movie in mind. He dieted and stayed in competition shape through the summer and into the fall, as Kold's character in the movie is meant to be gearing up for a competition.
Shooting for the movie began in October 2010 and wrapped in mid December of the same year. Kold revealed that staying on his diet for almost a year—and doing so throughout the summer while he trying to run a security company and a wholesale company in Marbella, Spain, where he now makes his home—was an ordeal.
From his 20-year bodybuilding career, Kold knows that the emotional state of a competitive bodybuilder can really impact how he performs, especially when it comes to the crunch time of dieting and competing.
"If you are on a diet, and your family life is solid and you have your friends, then it is easy. If you have problems at home and you are pissed off and angry, it is going to turn out bad.”
The hard work by Matthiesen and Kold has paid off. The movie has been well received and both men are now busy with new projects.
Matthiesen is working on a film about the fashion industry and one young woman’s efforts to become a model, while Kold is in London shooting “ a big American movie,” that he cannot really talk about. After his impressive turn in Teddy Bear, keep an eye out for Kold’s name and impressive frame.
Watch a clip of Teddy Bear:
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Teddy Bear is playing now in select theaters.