JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2013:

02.20.13

Berlin, Germany: Magnolia Pictures has confirmed that they have purchased the US rights to Danish director Lars von Trier's NYMPHOMANIAC after viewing a screening promo based on material from the film's first part. Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said, "“After the tremendous and never predictable experience of distributing "Melancholia", we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Mr. von Trier again. He’s such an exciting and talented filmmaker. It’s an honor and a thrill to be associated with his world”.

Two stills were recently released. The first shows Charlotte Gainsbourg lying prostrate in an alley and in the second one, Von Trier's favorite actress is flanked by two half-naked black men. An interesting threesome....

The film had long been rumored to premiere this spring at the Cannes Film Festival, which could have potentially marked the director’s first appearance at the festival for two years. Von Trier came under fire for comments he made at a Cannes press conference in 2011, during which he claimed to be sympathetic towards Hitler. He was later banned by the festival’s board of directors, and he has not returned since. But according to Peter Aalbæk Jensen, the managing director of Zentropa Films, the Cannes controversy had nothing to do with the choice to withhold the film. Instead, Jensen explained, the film’s 268-page script and 100 hours of footage have not left the filmmaker and his team with enough time to prepare for a premiere at Cannes.

“We commissioned four editors to work on the film to be ready for Cannes, but we had to abandon it,” Jensen told French television network TF1. “The work would’ve been distorted had we wanted to finish it for Cannes at all costs.” The rough cut of the film, Jensen told the Hollywood Reporter, was seven and a half hours long. “It’s almost enough for three films, and it’s all good,” he said. “I don’t know what we’ll cut.” Von Trier is understood to be considering at least splitting the film into two full-length parts, both in hard and soft-core versions.

Son Gustaf's Norwegian film, "Kon-tiki" could be picking up this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Though several cast members will be in Hollywood for the Academy Awards on Sunday night, Gustaf told Aftonbladet that he will be home re-decorating his apartment. His co-star Pål Sverre Hagen is now filming with Gustaf's dad in KRAFTIDIOTEN. Stellan comments, "I hope they ("Kon-tiki" team) win. First and foremost, Pål Sverre is a fantastic actor. This is the first time I've worked with him. My son Gustaf has talked very warmly about him." Here's the cast of Stellan's newest Norwegian film along with some new on-location photos.

Production on HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS begins in Vancouver in late March and is scheduled to go until April 20. The film stars Britain’s Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) and Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher) as well as Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård and his The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo co-star, Toronto-born Christopher Plummer. Pegg plays a psychiatrist traveling around the globe in search of the secret to happiness in the movie based on the Francois Lelord novel of the same name.

02.08.13

In recent days Stellan has been having fun driving a snowplow and wrecking cars during the filming of KRAFTIDIOTEN. He describes the landscape as beautiful but also cold. It's not the first time Hans Petter Moland has dragged him into frigid and isolated Norwegian locations. Stellan points out that his trainer, Odd Arne Rødningen, is "the right man for the job because he's been driving snow vehicles over Valdresflya since he was 16 years old." Rødningen smiles and says, "He is starting to get the hang of it now."

02.05.13

I have some more updates on Stellan's current film project in Norway. The synopsis for KRAFTIDIOTEN reads, "Nils lives in Beitostølen, is married to Gudrun and has a son named Ingvar, who has just begun studying at BI in Oslo. He is a happy man at 45 years old, a snow plow driver, responsible for keeping the county road over Valdresflya free of snow. He has recently been selected Citizen of the Year in Beitostolen and is looking forward to retirement and grandchildren and living a carefree life until the day he receives a phone call that his son has died of an overdose. Grief over the loss of his son turns into darkness and revenge, and suddenly Nils is in the middle of a drug war in which the Count and his men are fighting against Serbian mafia. The beautiful and peaceful winter paradise of Beitostølen is transformed into a fiery war zone. Will Nils be ready to clear out of the mess he has gotten tangled in? Will the Citizen of the Year in Beitostølen ever plow the road over the mountains again?"

Other cast members include Peter Andersson, German actor Bruno Ganz and Norwegian actor Pål Sverre Hagen. The film's tone is said to resemble "A Somewhat Gentle Man", which vascillated between violence and burlesque humor. The character Stellan plays is described as a quiet and kind man who is transformed into an avengeful father. Current shooting is taking place in locations around Valdres between Bergen and Olso with filming terminating in Oslo. Nordisk Film Distribusjon will release domestically next winter; Denmark’s TrustNordisk handles international sales.

So what's happening with the Skarsgård women? Well, last September Nyheter24 did a brief interview with Stellan's only daughter, 21-year-old Eija. I don't know what happened to her modeling career but she's presently a manager at a nightclub called Vardagsrummet (Living Room) in Stockholm. Her comments on how she would describe a good party went like this -"Where there are beautiful happy people who like to hug and dance. Not parties where people stand in the corner sipping their drinks. I love to dance and get sweaty and have the speakers pump out hip hop." With her mother's bout with alcoholism, we hope pretty Eija watches herself at the bar.

Ex-wife My Skarsgård, is immersed in good works since publicizing her battle with alcoholism (see 9/27/12 update). Not only is she a drug and alcohol therapist today, but also an ambassador for SOS Mission (Uppdraget). Last fall she joined five other ambassadors on a trip to Ghana to create health awareness for mothers and children and to recruit new sponsors for their campaign. Admirable charity work! And don't you love the photo of Alex and his mom?

And here's a find! Two wonderful old photos of My and Stellan, one on their wedding day.

02.02.13

Sometimes you have to be a good detective to unravel new film projects in Scandinavia. Apparently, Stellan is presently at work on a fourth collaboration with Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland. The latest film has the working title of KRAFTIDIOTEN (The Prize Idiot), which is being financed by the European co-production fund Eurimages and by grants from the NFI. Producers are Stein B. Kvae and Finn Gjerdrum. The budget is around 30 million kroners. Online photos have surfaced of Stellan in Beitostølen, a small mountain village in Øystre Slidre, Norway, where filming has begun. It is largely a tourist area with cabins and hotels, offering lift skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. The story was developed by Moland, Find Gjerdrum and Danish author Kim Fupz Aakeson, who also wrote the script for "A Somewhat Gentle Man".  The storyline concerns a snowplower named Nils and his son and a gang shooting between the Albanian mafia and established drug traffickers in eastern Norway. The film, Moland's second venture with Paradox Films, is expected to be released in February 2014. Marketing manager Jan Petter Dickman is optimistic about its success. He says, "We think this is a film that will do well in Norway among both young people and adults. Eventually it will be featured abroad, in particular, in the German and Danish markets." He hopes the huge snowy landscapes will emerge as exotic to most of the world, and that the film may prove popular far beyond Norway's borders. Here are a few photos of Stellan hanging out at the Steak & Bones restaurant in Beitostølen.

1.27.13

Last week France 2 television aired two 90-minute episodes of the mini-series, ROUGE BRÉSIL, starring Stellan and Joaquim de Almeida. Reviews were mostly favorable for the adaption of the Jean-Christophe Rufin bestseller, which tells the story of the brief French colonization of Brazil. Paris Match gave high marks and Le Parisien referred to the production as "exciting". La Croix shared the same enthusiasm with this comment - "When you know the difficulty of mounting international co-productions, you can only applaud the quality of this two-part miniseries." They particularly admired Stellan's acting and Sagamore Stévenin's. Other critiques included giving praise to the movie's "grandiose" score, written by Oscar-winning music composer, Gustavo Santaolalla.

A less than stellar review came from Le Nouvel Observateur, which described the series as "disappointing despite the splendid scenery." The French newspaper took the stance that a film could not possibly capture the richness of the book. That could be said for any grand novel over 500 pages! So what did the author think of the production? He loved it! Jean-Christophe Rufin had often been asked by producers to adapt his work but he was always skeptical until he was approached by Nicolas Traube. After viewing the film, Rufin said he was very happy, admiring the skill and determination it took to tell this epic despite considerable difficulties. In an interview with Le Figaro, he said: "I was pleasantly surprised that most of the drama of the novel was there. Both the historical and fictional parts have been well preserved."