Danish actress Iben Hjejle had a breakthrough US role in the film "High Fidelity" (2000) after acclaimed turns in the Denmark-filmed productions "Portland" (1996) and "Mifune" (1999). Hjejle, who lived in Massachusetts as a teenager, studied acting at The National Theatre School of Denmark, and teamed up with director Neals Arden-Oplev in the short film "Naked" (1991). Five years later, he cast her in "Portland", marking her feature film debut as an woman abused by her lover in this nihilistic look at the human condition. She followed up with a co-starring turn in "Mifune", Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's feature, the third to operate within the confines of 'Dogme '95', a manifesto created with fellow Danish directors Thomas Vinterberg and Lars von Trier calling for naturalistic filmmaking. Here she gave a winningly feisty performance as an on-the-run prostitute who takes a job as a housekeeper for an odd family in an attempt to start a new life. The blonde actress' unadorned good looks and confident presence made her an especially effective contributor to the Dogma style of filmmaking.
Director Stephen Frears, impressed with Hjejle's work, approached the actress about making her American film debut and subsequently cast her in the Chicago-set reworking of "High Fidelity", Nick Hornsby's seminal novel about a pop music-obsessed thirtysomething man's relationship problems, John Cusack starred as the protagonist Rob and Hjejle played Laura, his live-in girlfriend and the latest in a line of women to break his heart. The actress brought an appropriate self-possessed grace to the role, and displayed a comfortable chemistry with Cusack as well as a capable American accent. Interested in working in her native country to be closer to her husband and young son, the Copenhagen resident had not ruled out the possibility of additional American work, but expected to follow up her role in "High Fidelity" with a turn in Kragh-Jacobsen's "Skagerak", another Dogme 95 feature.