Berlinale today: press conference, photo call and premiere

For more photos, visit BERLINALE GALLERY

Announcement came this week of Alexander's upcoming role in a Netflix adventure thriller called HOLD THE DARK, directed by Jeremy Saulnier. The cast includes Jeffrey Wright, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough and James Bloor. Based on the book by William Giraldi, the story is set in a remote Alaskan wilderness in which wolves have taken and killed children. A wolf-expert biologist is called in to investigate, but finds himself in between a secret-harboring mother who disappears and her husband who goes on a maniacal spree when he returns from Iraq and learns of his son's death. Jeffrey will play the biologist with James in the role of the detective. Riley and Alexander will play the parents. Filming will begin next month in Alberta, Canada.

Alexander is also slated to star in the $14M renaissance action film THE DWARF. Brad Anderson will direct from a screenplay based on Par Lagerkvist's novel of the same name. The action takes place during the 14th century. Can you guess who plays the dwarf? Yes! Who else! Peter Dinklage. He will play a fearless man  who proves his mettle and earns the trust of a prince (Skarsgard) after he conquers an all-time wrestling champion in a contest. He then pledges his undying loyalty and resorts to assassinations and subterfuge in his merciless quest to protect his new master. Alexander is presently starring in the current HBO crime drama "Big Little Lies".


It was 35 years ago that Stellan won the Silver Bear for Best Actor for "The Simple-Minded Murderer" at the Berlin International Film Festival. What a wonderful way to start a film career!

On Wednesday Stellan returns to Berlin for the premiere of his latest film, RETURN TO MONTAUK. Commenting on the director of the romantic drama, he says, "I have liked Schlöndorff since the 70's. He's a very talented man... I've wanted to work with him for a long time, and then this wonderful story came along."

Stellan says he had to learn an unusual amount of dialogue. He says, "My motto for choosing roles is I'd rather have as little text as possible, but here I gladly broke my own principles. It was fun to work with such material. It's a very literary text and it was a lot to learn. The script is based on a book by Max Frisch and he's a wonderful writer."

Describing the film, he says, "The story says something about how we experience life. I have many friends who are writers, and I see how they use their subjects to portray the world in their own way. Authors have the advantage that they can create stories beyond time and space while they do not need to lose touch with the real world. My character is part of a love story in which he has created an image of the relationship the two had that has grown in his imagination."

Filming locations included the title place - Montauk - at the tip of Long Island. Stellan says, "We were there just before the tourist season started, so there were not so many people. It is reminiscent of Skagen with a magic light, surrounded by the sea and long sandy beaches and seafood."

As far as future projects, he says he's been reading scripts. He's thinking of two TV series in the US and two feature films, but nothing has been done about them yet. Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" was supposed to have gone into production in October but had to be canceled when one of the financiers fell away. Stellan is still waiting word to hear if filming will begin next month.


One week from today RETURN TO MONTAUK will premiere at Berlinale! Stellan will be present at the world-famous festival. Check out the beautiful poster and screen stills on the film page.

The English-language film was partially shot on location in Montauk, Amagansett and New York last spring, while interior scenes were filmed in Berlin. Director Volker  Schlöndorff, who summers in Amagansett, co-wrote the screenplay with Irish author Colm Tóibín. The story takes its inspiration from Swiss writer Max Frisch’s novella "Montauk," but the author and the screenwriters agreed that it would be too difficult to translate to film because it was too autiobiographical and essayistic. Schlöndorff and Tóibín decided to use it as a model to tell their own story.

Though the screenplay diverges so much from the book, the setting was never subject to change. "Absolutely not," Schlöndorff said. "The main inspiration we retained from Max Frisch was this somewhat legendary 'Montauk,' a place or a name quite well known in Europe through this book, published in 1974 when Montauk was not yet as popular … more a poetical metaphor for a place at land’s end." The director has ambitions of bringing the film to the Hamptons International Film Festival, held annually in October.

There's a behind-the scenes video that you can access on at this link. It's in black and white and runs about 16 minutes. Unfortunately, much of it is in German, but I think Stellan fans will love it.


It has been announced that RETURN TO MONTAUK will screen in Competition at the 67th International Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) in what will also be a world premiere for the Volker Schloendorff-directed film. The festival, which runs from February 9–19, is one of the most important dates for the international film industry. The film centers on writer Max Zorn (Skarsgård), who comes to New York for the release of his book. His young wife Clara (Susanne Wolff) goes ahead to work on the U.S. release. In his novel, Max writes about the failure of love in this city 17 years ago. Almost by chance he meets Rebecca (Nina Hoss). She is now a successful lawyer, originally from East Germany and in New York for 20 years. They decide to spend a weekend together in Montauk, a fishing port on Long Island.


Stellan has won both a Guldbaggen and Silver Bear but now he has a new award added to his CV. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lund. He gets the title because he "has a deeply reflective and thoughtful approach to his work as an actor and to his place in film production, and he personifies in an outstanding way the international character that has permeated and still characterizes the art of film and film work, both the practical and scientific."

Martin Degrell, communicator at Lund University, said Stellan was very happy and very honored and has agreed to participate in the conferment ceremony on June 2. Degrell added that it was gratifying that Stellan would attend since he's a very busy person.


Tennis biopic BORG/MCENROE has now wrapped principal photography in Sweden, Prague, Monaco, London and New York. The film will have a fall 2017 theatrical release. It has already been sold to France (Pretty Pictures), UK (Curzon), GAS (Ascot Elite), Australia/New Zealand (Vendetta), Italy (Lucky Red) and Latin America (Cineplex). Producers Jon Nohrstedt and Fredrik Wikström Nicastro announced, "We are very pleased and proud to bring this amazing story based on true events about two of the greatest icons and their rivalry to the big screen. It is an extremely ambitious project and to have international talent such as Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård, together with Sverrir Gudnason in the film is absolutely amazing."


Just about a year ago Stellan's portrait was hung at the Martin Schoeller exhibition called "Up Close" in Stockholm. At that time I was able to only post the first two photographs but now a clearer portrait has become available. Excellent work, Mr. Schoeller!


Stellan's son Valter, about to turn 21 later this month, is taking the next step in his acting career by accepting an international role for his next project. He tells the press that he's leaving this week but, unfortunately, cannot say anything more about the upcoming film. He says, "I think it might be fun to work in English. Then you also have the chance to work with more people and you get even more options. It's hard to just stick to Sweden. There are not so many projects."  Valter is currently in the new Swedish TV thriller series, "Svartsjön" (Black Sea), which will premiere on October 20th on TV3 and Viaplay. He says, "It is rare to see this kind of Swedish production. It makes me think that this series can have impact. It comes with something new, and it is, if I may say so myself, well-made."

I couldn't resist posting one of my favorite pics of Valter taken during the filming of ATT DÖDA ETT BARN, directed by older brother Alex back in 2003.


Yesterday a press conference for BORG/MCENROE was held in Gothenburg, Sweden. In attendance were Stellan, Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBouef, Tuva Novotny, director Janus Metz Pedersen and writer Ronnie Sandahl, who says the film obviously will be about the great Wimbledon match in 1980 but its primary focus will be on the relationship between  Björn Borg and John McEnroe. He adds, "It's about two very young and lonely men with the entire world's weight on their shoulders. The only one who really understands what they are going through is their rival, and that's what creates the tension between them. It's a very character driven movie."

Stellan was questioned about his comeback since his role as Borg's coach Lennart "Labbe" Bergelin is his first Swedish role in almost ten years. He says, "There hasn't been anything interesting before, but this script was really there and Janus Metz's brain is good and he is very persuasive."



Production has been delayed on THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE due to financing issues. Terry Gilliam has revealed that his passion project, which he has been working on for almost two decades, has stalled but he insists it will still go ahead. Speaking on BBC radio, he said: "I had this producer, a Portuguese chap, who claimed he’d get all the money together in time. And a few weeks ago, he proved that he didn’t have the money. I am still marching forward and the film isn’t dead. I will be dead before the film is." Besides Stellan, cast members include Adam Driver, Michael Palin, Olga Kurylenko and Willem Dafoe.

Oldest son Alexander will soon travel to Berlin to shoot the WWII drama "Aftermath", which also stars Keira Knightley. He says he can't wait to use his new base to get back to his extended family in Stockholm. "I have a four-year-old brother and a seven-year-old brother and a two-year-old nephew", he says. "And I haven't seen them since Christmas. And I miss them. Being away from them really sucks. I'm hoping to get an apartment in Stockholm. I haven't had a place there for 12 years. It's too long." His latest film "War on Everyone" screened at the Deauville Film Festival on September 8th and will open in the UK on October 7th. The film is a black comedy set in Albuquerque, NM that was both directed and written by John Michael McDonagh. Besides Alex, it stars Michael Peña and Theo James.

In a recent article in Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, ex-wife My  Skarsgård discusses her life path. As a trained physician with experience of her own alcohol abuse, she has become one of the most influential voices in the conversation about alcohol and sobriety. We salute My for her courage and commitment.


BREAKING THE WAVES becomes an opera! Reported by James C. Taylor,

It's not hard to see why Lansdale, Pa.-born composer Missy Mazzoli was drawn to adapt Lars Von Trier's 1996 film "Breaking the Waves" into an opera: a strong, complex heroine, a wrenching moral drama — not to mention its high profile cultural visibility. Indeed, there are moments in Mazzolli's opera where you feel that this new work, that received its world premiere last weekend at Opera Philadelphia, could have the same break-out qualities of the film, which launched the major international careers of its director and two stars. The composer's second opera, "Breaking the Waves," is a powerful new work. Its potent drama and compelling music are only enhanced by James Darrah's compact but insightful staging at Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater (with additional performances scheduled for Thursday and Saturday nights). Mazzoli's adaptation is faithful to Von Trier's epic passion play about a woman's twisted bargains with god and her paralyzed husband. Most importantly, though, it effectively translates the emotions and story from Danish Dogme 95-style cinema to the lyric stage.

Magnolia Home Entertainment has announced that IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 6, 2016.  Those in the US who didn't see it in theaters and don't want to wait until December, can view it via Amazon streaming video at a rental of $6.99. It's worth it!!!


As filming began on BORG/MCENROE, the press met up with Stellan on location to talk about his role as Borg's coach. He explains, "Playing a well-known figure like Lennart Bergelin is a bit like doing Hamlet. Everyone has their idea of how the role should be played. Björn, his wife Mariana and Lennart lived in a very strange symbiosis where they often shared a room together and the relationship between  Björn and Lennart was pretty complex. He was like a father figure who sees a great genius and lives through him."

Stellan remembers the dramatic television images from the Wimbledon final in 1980 at his in-laws' summer home but has never taken up tennis. His only contact with the sport was when he was forced to play two games of tennis in the role of a Russian mafia banker in John le Carré thriller "Our kind of traitor" which premiered last spring. He says, "I was completely useless. Although I trained every day for three months, I could not hit the ball. Therefore, I am incredibly impressed by Sverrir who learned to play so fast - and got a brand new body. He was a bit flabby earlier."


While Norwegian film IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE opens in theaters across the country, wonderful reviews continue to pour in. Tirdad Derakhshani of the Philadelphia Inquirer perhaps sums up the film perfectly. Here are some of his comments:

Swift, fleet-of-foot, and efficient, with clean lines and a sleek finish, the Norwegian black comedy In Order of Disappearance glides through the world like a perfectly engineered car or a gorgeous piece of modern furniture.

Set in the sparse, blindingly white snowfields of the Scandinavian winter, Hans Petter Moland's violent, satirical crime thriller is assembled with such formal rigor and visual poetry that it throws into high relief the messy, sweaty, almost repulsively human drama that unspools.

The film's knockout power is due in no small part to the contributions of cinematographer Philip Øgaard and leading man Stellan Skarsgård, who have worked with the writer-director on two of his best-known features, A Somewhat Gentle Man (2010) and Aberdeen (2000).

Though he's backed by a strong ensemble cast... Skarsgård dominates the screen with his 6-foot, 4-inch frame, his outsize rage and grief, and the gigantic snowplow truck he drives...

Like the Coen brothers' best flicks, In Order of Disappearance gets its gruesomely comic momentum from a domino effect of unintended consequences put into motion by the hero's actions... Operatic, absurdist, and scathing, Moland's story rages on with tremendous force and speed, never slowing down for extraneous junk like backstories, explanations, or tiresome exposition.

In Order of Disappearance will no doubt invite comparisons to similarly stylized, violent black comedies by Quentin Tarantino and the Coens. Yet, like 2011's murder farce Headhunters by Moland's Norwegian compatriot Morten Tyldum, In Order of Disappearance has an utterly unique feel, a certain Scandinavian crispness that's impossible to duplicate.

About two years it was announced that the Volvo Car Group had hired Stellan for their advertising campaign for their new Volvo XC90 continuing the company's efforts to feature Swedish superstars in their commercials on television and the Internet. Stellan was to show how easy the car is to maneuver. The message was "Simplicity". We were told Stellan drives on a highway in Dalarna and, in the end, he undresses and jumps into a lake for a swim. For months I looked for that commercial and found nothing. Finally, Expressen ran an article this week on that campaign. Our Swede was indeed commissioned and the commercial was made and he was reportedly paid a rather handsome sum, but no one saw it! Per Carleö, marketing director at Volvo Car Sweden, is not forthcoming and simply states, "There are many projects that may not see the light of day." Expressen also contacted Stellan's agent, Aleksandra Mandic, who indicated he could not comment and any inquiries should be made to Volvo's global advertising agency Grey. For what reasons the commercial was never aired will remain a mystery but I think it would have been grand. Even better than Matthew McConaughey's Lincoln ad where it falls backward into a pool, but fully dressed!


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