Tomorrow 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!

In 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."


Last 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."

In discussing 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."

I've added two more pages to Stellan's theatre history. The first is FJÄRILSLEK (The Years of the Butterfly), which was staged at Dramaten in 1978. If this photo looks somewhat silly, it may be because the play reflected absurdism.

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.


Whatever 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 Dragon Tattoo".

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 creature Grendel.

To 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.


With 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.


I 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!

For 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.

If 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 photos.


I 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!


Here 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 pages for Stiftelsen, En kall miljon, Brott och brott and John Gabriel Borkman.

It 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".


According 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.


This 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. Here's a youtube link to an interview with them on Skavlan, a Norwegian-Swedish TV talk show. There are closed captions in English.


About 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 picture."

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 work."

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.


Here's some artwork by German digital artist Julia Lange.

In 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 diletto.'"

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."

Flashback to 1996 in a new photo from HARRY & SONJA when Stellan becomes a hairdresser! (laughing)



2021: January
2020: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2019: January, February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December
2018: January, February/March, April-June, July/August, September/October, November/December
2017: January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December
2016: January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December
2015: January/February, March/April, May-July, August, September/October, November/December
2014: January, February, March, April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December
2013: January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December
2012: January/February, March, April, May/June, July, August, September, October-December
January, February-April, May-June, July-August, September, October/November, December
January/February, March/April, May/June, July, August, September/October, November/December
January/February, March, April/May, June-August, September-December
January-March, April-June, July/August, September/October November/December
January, February, March-April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December
January/February, March/April/May, Summer, September, OctoberNovember/December
January, February, March, April,  May, June/July, August, September, October, November/December
June, July, August, September, October, November,  December



The Michael Nyqvist Archives
The Vincent Perez Archives
The Sam Shepard Web Site
The Peter Coyote Official Web Site