A WEB SITE FOR THE DISCERNING
FAN SINCE JUNE 2004
the Oscar nominations will be announced and we're all rooting for
Director/writer Maria Sødahl's
HOPE to be among them. In a recent
interview, Maria was asked about casting Stellan as her husband. She
explained, "I try not to have anyone in
mind while writing. And, quite soon, I realized there was only one guy
who could do Thomas’s part…In a sense, his part is more challenging,
than hers. Because to be that character who’s not 'acting,' has to have
very small things, body language, and have this inner life that you can
read. That needed a great actor. And, of course, I wanted my husband to
know a great actor would portray him. (laughs) …I know Stellan. I know
that he’s had similar experiences from his own life. He’s got a blended
family of eight. I have a blended family of six…and he’s also had a wife
who had cancer. He has been in Thomas’s shoes. So he could make his own
character. He wasn’t going to play my husband; he was going to portray
his Thomas. So I didn’t think of anybody else for his part."
3/15/21 UPDATE: So
disappointed that "Hope" did not make the final Oscar nomination list
today. However, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg received two
nominations for "Another Round" - Best International Feature and Best
Director. This is a terrific film and Mads Mikkelsen gives another
awesome performance. Check it out!
an interview last year, Stellan commented on Indian cinema. Personally,
I'm not a huge fan but I do favor UK films about the colonization of
India by the British, such as "Heat and Dust" (1983). Stellan said that
the impact of Indian cinema as popular entertainment
stretches from the west of India to the Mediterranean countries such as
Morocco and covering all those countries of the Middle East.
Having traveled to many film locations around the world, he remarks,
"All over the eastern part of the world, there is a Hindi film playing."
He believes, "There is no
American star who is as loved as an Indian star is."
Stellan recalled the time when he was filming "My
Son the Fanatic" with the late Indian actor Om Puri, who was
mobbed with fans in England - "Walking through Bradford (in Western
Yorkshire where they were shooting) with him was insane!"
He added, "I made
one Indian film called "The
Perfect Murder" many years ago with
Naseeruddin Shah. It was a very interesting
experience, but the film
didn’t turn out well. However, I
had the chance to meet a lot of Indian actors."
week Stellan did an interview via Zoom with UK's Eye for Film from his
London hotel room. He started off by saying he had been out to the
studio ("Andor" production) that day to do some tests though they
weren't shooting. He added, "I'm really tired of hotel rooms."
HOPE, which is shortlisted for the Oscars,
Stellan was asked about acting opposite real doctors and health
professionals in the film. He responded, "Film I think is very different
from stage acting. Stage acting is so much technique to make it even
visible twenty meters away or audible twenty meters away. Also, on stage
you are in the same room as the audience which means it is real, even if
it’s stylized, even if it’s a heightened reality. But on film, the
camera is so revealing. It tells if you’re just relying on your tools.
It can tell immediately that you’re lying. That’s why sometimes amateurs
are brilliant in front of the camera. I mean, when Björk won the prize
in Cannes as best actress [for "Dancer In The Dark"], she’s never acted
before. But her presence in front of the camera was so vivid. And those
doctors we had here knew exactly what they were doing. They were not
trying to portray anything. They weren’t trying to do anything strange
or displaying a whole character in many dimensions. They were doing what
they were doing every day. And they were alive in front of the camera
and it was fantastic to see. And they’re all different. Different
characters that sort of stand out. Beautiful."
And did the film change any of
Stellan's ideas on death?
He replied, "Well, I thought about
death when I was three years old and realized that I had to deal with
it. And I haven’t thought about it since. Because I was fine with it. I
can’t say that this project taught me more about death. But it reminded
me of life and the importance of life. And even the family that we had
in this film, which so much resembled in many ways my family and with
all the kids and the big apartment and with all of this life - it
emphasized the thing that I already knew. That this was the most
important thing in my life."
added two more pages to Stellan's theatre history. The first is
(The Years of the Butterfly), which was staged at Dramaten
in 1978. If this photo looks somewhat silly, it may be because the play
The second play is an
earlier one in 1969
that was staged at
Malmö Stadsteater. Titled
ALLA HAR TRÄDGÅRD
in Swedish, its English
title is "Everything in the Garden" and it was written by
Edward Albee. The photo below shows a scene with a very
young Stellan with actor Bengt Brunskog,
who plays his father.
you call it, Scandinavian Noir or Scaninoir or Nordic Noir, it's a crime
thriller from one of the five Scandinavian countries.
It is typically a dimly lit aesthetic with a mix of bleak
naturalism and desolate locations. Add some melancholy to that mix as
well. Often the settings are snowy and the police detectives seem rather
morose. When commenting on this subject, Stellan said, "Nordic Noir got
a great push from the 'Millennium Triology'. That is a really mediocre
crime story but it has really interesting characters." You may remember
that he played the bad guy in the American version of "The Girl with the
Stellan admits, "I don't even know
what Scandinoir is. I probably did one of the first - "Insomnia" - many
years ago but now almost anything that comes out of Scandinavia is Scandinoir, which is sad."
Here's an old NYC ad for the movie;
As a seasoned cinephile (at 77
years old), if you're into Nordic Noir, I highly recommend the Icelandic thriller "A White, White,
Day" (2019) starring Ingvar Sigurdsson. That name may be familiar to die-hard Skarsgård fans because he was
Stellan's co-star in "Beowulf & Grendel". Yes, he played the monstrous
our current family knowledge of Stellan, he plays grandfather to two children. Sam,
the doctor, and his wife Sanna have a seven-year-old son and Bill
(30 yrs.) has a daughter (28 mos.) named Miracle (is that really true?), whose mother is Swedish
TV actress Alida Morberg (36 yrs). The pair have not gone through the formality of
a marriage for whatever reason. Bill is very private about his personal
life, but Alida is fond of social media and thus posted this photo of
mother and daughter on Instagram. Perhaps this child may have inherited her
daddy's beautiful eyes.
Bill's acting career continues to
soar with these upcoming films - "Naked Singularity", "Emperor" and
"Gilded Rage". He will also be starring in Netflix's "Clark" series.
Netflix has not announced a release date yet.
the lack of news in the cinema world these days, I continue to add more
material to Stellan Online. Today we return to 1985 when
FALSK SOM VATTEN (False as Water)
premiered. Directed by Hans Alfredson, it is a black story about the
blackest thing man has within him - jealousy. The title is a quote from
Shakespeare's "Othello", but in the film, not least in its finale, it
takes on a most literal meaning. The plot revolves around the publishing
world. John (played by Sverre Anker Ousdal), a co-owner of a book
publisher, has reached his forty-year crisis in marriage and is looking
for new happiness together with Clara (played by Malin Ek), one of the
publisher's young poets. But evil and cruel things begin to happen in
their lives. Stellan plays Clara's jealous ex-boyfriend Stig.
The Hichkockian thriller premiered
at midnight on a dark evening on November 8, 1985. Director Hans
Alfredson gave a short introductory speech to the premiere audience and
said, "Now I will scare you properly". The film was well received by the
critics and Alfredson went on to win the award for Best Director and
Malin Ek won Best Actress at the 21st Guldbagge Awards. It was screened
in the U.S. in 1986 at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
found another production photo from the 1985 Swedish TV production of
HAMLET. I wasn't able to identify the
actor Stellan is posing with. Love the hair!
Swedish fans, Valter can be seen this year in the drama series "A
Class Apart", an original production from the Nordic Entertainment
Group's Viaplay streaming service. The eight-part series explores a
hidden world of privilege, power and deadly secrets at an exclusive
boarding school. Valter told the press, "This series intrigued
me because it gave me the chance to play a character who is as different
from me as it gets, in terms of both personality and lifestyle. At the
same time, the show portrays an interesting world in a smart way. This
is more than a teenage drama; we're asking broader social questions."
No release date has been scheduled yet.
you're as old as I am, you most likely remember the 1971 beloved Swedish
period drama called "The Emigrants". The film, starring Max Von
Sydow and Liv Ullmann, received five Oscar nominations, including Best
Foreign Language Film. The story was based on Vilhelm Moberg's classic
novel about Swedish emigrants who journey to America seeking a better
life. A remake was filmed this past fall starring Stellan's son
Gustaf and Lisa Carlehed. My question is how in the world does one
fill the shoes of Von Sydow and Ullmann! Director Erik Poppe told the
press, "Jan Troell's 1971 adaptation is a masterpiece and I'm not trying
to recreate his film. I want to re-interpret the story in a new way,
through the eyes of Kristina." Though I usually despise remakes, I could
understand an English version for those who can't tolerate subtitles but
this film will again be in Swedish.
Initially, shooting was scheduled to take place in the Czech
Republic, but was relocated to Sweden due to the pandemic. Filming took
place from September to January and the premiere date in Sweden is
scheduled for Christmas Day. Gustaf posted the following production
have added a theatre page for ETT DRÖMSPEL
(A Dream Play), which was written in 1901 by the
Swedish playwright August Strindberg. Stellan was cast in Dramaten's
1986 production, which was directed by Ingmar Bergman. In the photo
below the play's ensemble listens to the famous director and it appears
that most of the group looks rather bored, including Stellan!
The year before Stellan was cast in a
Swedish TV mini-series titled STRINDBERG ETT LIV,
based on the book by Per Olov Enquist. He appeared in the third episode
called "Hjärnornas kamp" in which he played Vernet von Heidenstam, a
Swedish poet, novelist and laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature in
1916. This episode was aired on March 4, 1985. How distinguished Stellan
looks in this photo!
are some photos of a very young Stellan taken in 1979 right outside the
front door of Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre (Dramaten).
I've added individual theatre
Stiftelsen, En kall
miljon, Brott och brott
was 1987 and Malmo was hosting barn-och ungdomsfestivalen (BUFF), a
children and youth film festival for the fourth year in a row. Though
Stellan was born in Gothenburg, he was raised in both Helsingborg and
Malmo. He had recently made his first children's film "Jim & piraterna Blom".
to Boxoffice Pro France, DUNE will now
have an international theatrical release on September 15, 2021. In the
US, it was originally expected in cinemas on December 23rd last year.
Warner Bros. has announced the film will be released on October 1, 2021
in U.S. theaters in IMAX and 3D as well as a month-long release on the
HBO Max streaming service. In his dissatisfaction letter to Warner
Bros., director Denis Villeneuve wrote, "My team and I have devoted more
than three years of our lives to making it a unique experience to see on
the big screen. The image and sound of our film were meticulously
designed to be seen in movie theaters." [The following poster is not the
studio's official one]
Several other films will be
available for viewing on HBO Max for one month following their domestic
releases. This includes Alexander's film "Godzilla vs. Kong". Warner
Bros. told the press, "No one wants films back on the big screen more
than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical
exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most
theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout
2021." It sounds like a death knell for the cinema experience, which has
already been hit hard by the pandemic. Most major releases were
pushed off the 2020 calendar with the hope that by 2021 theaters would
be open again. Warner Bros. is framing this as a short-term plan, given
that it's nearly impossible to predict the speed of the vaccine rollout
and if audiences will feel safe returning to theaters.
Stellan revealed he worked on the
film for two and a half weeks and didn't get a chance to work with much
of the cast, filming most of his scenes alone with only brief exchanges
with other characters. Though he had to spend seven hours a day in
make-up, he said, "Working with Denis Villeneuve was fantastic. Being on
his set is a great experience because everybody is nice, nobody is
shouting and nobody is scared." Stellan feels that Villeneuve's
films, including 'Arrival' and 'Blade Runner 2049', are "extremely
visual and sensual" which is something that has carried over to "Dune".
He adds, "The sets were incredible and the way he shot was beautiful.
And also the way he not only thinks but feels when he's watching. He's
working with all of his senses when he shoots... It's really wonderful.
He's such a great filmmaker, such a visual filmmaker."
The role of Baron Harkonnen was
played by Kenneth McMillan in the 1984 David Lynch film and by Ian
McNeice in the TV miniseries from 2000. Villeneuve told Vanity Fair that
he thought the Baron in the books was "flirting very often with
caricature" and that Skarsgård’s take would have "a bit more dimension".
The photo below was taken in 2019
on location at the Origo Film Studios in Budapest, Hungary. The woman
was not identified.
week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their
shortlist for Best International Feature Film. Films from 93 countries
had been submitted and now 15 of them will advance to the next round of
voting. Norway's HOPE is among these 15!
Director/writer Maria Sødahl
should be very proud as well as her cast. Currently, "Hope" is
not available via streaming in the U.S. but two of these 15 films are
available and I recommend both of them - Taiwan's "A Sun" and Denmark's
"Another Round", which swept the European Film awards winning Best Film,
Best Director, Best Screenwriter and Best Actor - Mads Mikkelsen.
Stellan and Mads became buddies when they were both cast in "King
Arthur" in 2004. Their comraderie off-screen is a delight to watch.
youtube link to an interview with them on Skavlan, a
Norwegian-Swedish TV talk show. There are closed captions in English.
ten years ago, Stellan was featured in Under Dusken, the official
student newspaper founded in 1914 in Trondheim, Norway.
When asked how he ended up in
America, he responds, "I
was tired of conservative theater productions, and decided to quit
acting. Then I got in touch with an agent. She thought I had to get
better at promoting myself, but I did not even want to send out a
Skarsgård smiles, and judging by his eyes, it seems that he is a
little proud of the rebellious attitudes he had as a young man. In
1990, however, he got his first role in a Hollywood production.
"I was supposed to be in a couple of scenes in the movie 'The Hunt
For Red October'. Never before had I been so well paid for so little
He says that the big money
that reigns in Hollywood often involves a hefty commercialization of
the product. After a long time in the industry, directors are also
something Stellan has a definite opinion about.
"Filmmakers are usually very weird people. Big kids still playing
with Lego bricks."
He believes that some filmmakers do not manage to free themselves
from their own fantasy world and thus forget to make people in front
of the camera come alive.
some artwork by German digital artist Julia Lange.
his review this week of HOPE, Jay Weissburg of Variety only had
praise. He writes, "Believe the accolades: Maria Sødahl’s
perceptive, heartfelt 'Hope' richly deserves
all the attention it’s gotten at festivals and award ceremonies since
premiering in Toronto in 2019... the rewards here are
great, not just for the multi-layered screenplay but the impeccable
performances by Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård...
Skarsgård is a wonder at conveying his bereft core with just minimal
body language and eye movements, as if his insides have been chipped
away... The camera is neither intrusive nor coldly
distant, allowing us to feel even more engaged, and it beautifully
captures the special softness of Scandinavian early winter light. Also
to be commended is Jørgen Stangebye Larsen’s production design, as well
as Sødahl’s gratifying use of Vivaldi’s richly expressive 'Vedrò con mio
This lovely indie film is
obviously a Nordic gem! I can't wait to see it. As I've mentioned
before, I dislike American remakes and the decision to turn this story
into a television drama series starring Nicole Kidman will not work for
me and perhaps for many others. Say goodbye to the "special softness of
Scandinavian early winter light" and Vivaldi's "Vedro con mio diletto".
Maybe they can get Liam Neeson to replace Stellan again (sighing)...
As previously reported, "Hope"
opened in theaters in Spain on January 22 and Stellan believes "it is a
film that deserves to be seen in theaters, not at home." Again, he
comments on the healthcare system portrayed in the film because the
story takes place around the Christmas holidays. He points out that
there is no intention of making a great reproach, rather a friendly
criticism - "We have wonderful healthcare that works very well, but we
also have many employment rights. For example, in July there are very
few doctors because they are all in their country homes or traveling.
And at Christmas, the same. If you become ill, bad luck."
to 1996 in a new photo from HARRY & SONJA when Stellan becomes a
OTHER COYMOON CREATIONS:
The Vincent Perez
The Sam Shepard Web
Peter Coyote Official Web Site