Despite being born and raised in Sweden, An American Affair director William Sten Olsson found that he was able to relate to a lot of the mystery, intrigue and sadness that surrounded John F. Kennedy's presidency.
Affair deals with a 13-year-old boy (Cameron Bright, X-Men: The Last Stand who discovers that his next-door neighbor (Gretchen Mol, Rounders ) is having an affair with JFK. Naturally, as is the case with most films about the late president, conspiracy theories come into play.
Olsson draws parallels between the Kennedy assassination and the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in February 1986.
"I think that had a similar impact on the nation as what happened with JFK's assassination in the United States" Olsson told B OXOFFICE. "It was suddenly this sense of a loss innocence and that anything could happen."
In order to tackle this American tale, Olsson conducted both historical research and cultural research, which involved everything from listening to the top 100 songs of 1963 to reading books by interior designers from that era. In order to tackle JFK's infidelities, Olsson poured over "The Dark Side of Camelot" by Seymour M. Hersh. As for the conspiracy theories surrounding JFK's death, Olsson also made sure to do his homework.
"In terms of the Kennedy assassination there's so many conspiracy theories. We went with the one that if you believe in conspiracy theories, then this is the most likely one," said Olsson.
The director also became a kind of pseudo-history professor to the 16-year-old Bright during the course of the production.
"I wanted him to understand a little bit of the culture," said Olsson. "It was especially important for me to show him actual news reel footage from that time such as the Zapruder film, Walter Cronkite's speech after the assassination and also some general TV programming that was around at that time."
While the early 60's is a period of our history that has certainly received its share of attention at the movies, Olsson still sees relevance today.
"What makes that period so special is you had the huge contrast and conflict between the more traditional society from the 50's and the more individualistically embracing part of society that would later sort of flourish in the late 60's. I think we once again see that conflict today."
Olsson is currently developing a script called The Eulogist, which is about a former IRA member who is drawn back into conflict after being summoned to deliver a eulogy for an old comrade.
"I like the combination of a fictional story that is set under real circumstances," said Olsson.
An American Affair opens at select locations on February 27.