JANUARY 2021 NEWS

01.30.21:

Amazon Studios has acquired the rights to director Maria Sødahl's Norwegian film HOPE for series adaptation, with Nicole Kidman attached to star and be executive produced under her Blossom Films banner. With suspense, mystery, tragedy and humor, the series HOPE will chronicle twelve days of a family’s Christmas together, the unravelling of a marriage, with six children between them, in this large complicated blended family drama. The series is being adapted by Alice Bell, who will also serve as executive producer.

01.28.21:

I've posted an addition to the "Press" section. It's the May 2016 edition of Stockholm's street newspaper Situation, which featured Stellan on the cover.

Among the excerpts from this interview is my favorite about Stellan's experience in August 2007 when he attended a performance  of "Place" at Stockholm's Dansens Hus starring the breathtaking Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ana Laguna.

Stellan Skarsgård started suddenly to cry. It happened a few years ago.  He sat a few rows away from the stage in Dansens Hus and saw Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ana Laguna perform a dance, choreographed by Mats Ek. At first he did not understand at all why he cried.

"Baryshnikov cannot do those amazing jumps he could do years ago, but every little detail, every single muscle in his body expresses everything he feels, all his life experience. And you cannot resist. It is a communication between people that goes a long way beyond language. I had not cried for probably ten years and then suddenly I started crying. It was nothing dramatic that happened. I just became so fucking taken, so moved."

Stellan's ex-wife My also made the cover of Situation back in March 2013. She is a doctor and therapist specializing in alcohol addiction having survived alcoholism and cervical cancer as well. A very courageous woman!

 

I have a deep aversion to Tumblr web sites for several reasons, one being that scrolling them can give you a bad ass headache. However, occasionally I'll check them out for unique photos. Here's one of Stellan with Colin Firth and it's a strange one. The notes indicate it's from one of the "Mamma Mia" films - "Bill and Harry on their way home from a icy waters off the coast of Norway. Bill was showing Harry the fjords." I'm still shaking my head on this one... What'd ya think?

01.26.21:

According to the Star Wars news site Fantha Tracks, a small town in the UK by the name of Little Marlow is where the ANDOR production is taking place. A couple of aerial photos of the set have been obtained by the British tabloid The Sun. "Andor" will take place five years before the events of "Rogue One", and will follow the rebel spy Cassian Andor during some of the Rebellion’s formative years. The series is set to debut on Disney+ in 2022, and will reportedly consist of 12 episodes.

In the Spanish newspaper El Punt Avui, Stellan engaged in another interview regarding the film HOPE and the following were some of the Q&A's;

Q: Is death the most important subject of fiction, film, theater, or literature?

Stellan; A good part of commercial cinema is about life and death, for all the drama it entails. We cannot avoid death: we can trust it fully, we will surely die. You can make your life longer, but you can’t save yourself.

Q: Did you work more with body language in a story like this?

Stellan; Tomas doesn’t talk much, he’s a circumspect character, and the audience has to understand how I feel, how angry I am, and to express that I have my whole body. In general, I think I use my face, my eyes and my body a lot, I don’t just work on dialogues. The thing is, my co-star in this film, Andrea Bræin Hovig, does a fantastic job, and all I have to do is react to what she does.

Q: How important is hope to this family and to everyone in general?

Stellan: Hope is essential, but it can also be disappointing. It is a positive perspective on the future, but you need to know how to manage it. Without hope we are paralyzed, because we find no sense in anything. Even after the U.S. election in 2016, we had to have it, and in the management of Covid, hope is also important, thinking that we will be able to survive, find a remedy, or other ways of living. But hope is something that needs to be managed. If you want a good future, you have to work to achieve it.

Q: Considering that you have a Scandinavian soul, did you find it very difficult to jump into the pool of madness that was "Mamma Mia!"?

Stellan: Obviously it was hard. I had to sing! [Laughs] Never in my life would I have thought I would make a movie like this. It had nothing to do with what I usually do, and it was a challenge for me, but it was also an incredibly fun experience. In the process of creating the character, his background, all that mattered was that he was funny.

There's a Chinese web site that has this awesome video of Stellan discussing the film "Breaking the Waves". It runs about 12 minutes and it's in English. It's amazing that Stellan can express his ideas so succinctly when English is not his first language. Check out this link.

01.25.21:

From a Spanish media site called The Objective comes another interview with Stellan regarding the release of HOPE in Spain. Here are a few of the Q&A's:

Q: What was your reaction when you discovered Maria's illness? (referring to Hans Petter Moland's wife)

Stellan: They communicated it to me in a phone call. They live in Norway and I live in Sweden, so I was not there to accompany them during this ordeal. We all thought she was going to die, but she didn't.

Q: Your character works hard and neglects his private life. Have you identified with him in that sense?

Stellan: The truth is that this role made me review my entire career. I went back 40 years to when I started at the Stockholm Dramaten. Since then I have worked four months a year and have spent the rest of the time at home with my children. I am very privileged, so I do not identify with him. I have not had the same experience. What I do agree on is that my first wife had cancer.

Q: There are journalists who have viewed the film as a criticism of the health system in the Nordic countries. Do you share it?

Stellan: It is a description, not a criticism, with all its flaws and qualities. The beauty of this movie is that it shows how different care is depending on the doctor that corresponds with you because there are professionals who cannot deal with the horrors they deal with and they become cold and technical, and others who turn over. It is something very human.

Q: How often do you go online for medical consultations?

Stellan: I don't need to google. I've always been the type to always have an encyclopedia on hand. When I argued with my boys, we all came to consult it so we are freaks of the encyclopedia. I don't use Google much in general either because the news already informs me of what is happening in the world. What scares me today is Poland, Hungary, England and the party against immigration in Sweden. Although it also depends on perspective: in a million years this fucking planet will be gone.

Q: Does it bother your children when you're being too honest?

Stellan; We don't criticize each other's projects or jobs. We only speak positively because there is no reason to beat ourselves up: we all practice trial and error. I try to see everything they do, but they are so productive… I'm years behind.

Q: What kind of  conversations do you have with Alexander?

Stellan: Gossip, such as that director is a jerk, I hated him too...

Q: I imagine that you have signed a confidentiality contract, but what can you tell us about "Dune"?

Stellan: It's going to be very visual. It is a Denis Villeneuve film, but at the same time there is a commitment that it will sell many tickets.

Q: Are you not suspicious of remakes at this point?

Stellan: Theoretically you can't make remakes that are better than the originals, but that happens because they are made for the wrong reasons. When Americans remake European films, they limit themselves to adapting the story and eliminating everything valuable from the original film, and that's where you screw up. I don't know how many Hamlets I've seen, and there is no problem, in principle, because you can view them from different perspectives. The fucking thing is if you think that you can buy the frame of a work of art and fill it with any movie shit.

Q: Moland shot himself a remake of a Norwegian movie you starred in. Have you ever reproached him for it?

Stellan: We joke sometimes. I say, "What the hell, can we shoot a movie in English for a change? You only do projects in Norwegian, which nobody sees. Or is it that you do it and then shoot a remake with fucking Liam Neeson and get paid double?" Deep down I get it, it must be fun to try it again. And Liam is a very nice guy.

 

Comparing these two films, "Cold Pursuit" (originally titled "Hard Powder") grossed $76 million and scored 69% on the Tomatometer while "Kraftidioten" ("In Order of Disappearance") grossed less than a million but scored 86% on the Tomatometer. On the surface, the remake looks very close to the Norwegian original, but it was actually more of an adaptation. Producer Michael Shamberg told the press, "Only about 25% of the dialogue is from the original film." Though "Cold Pursuit" is set in Colorado, the principal photography was done in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. Personally, I dislike American remakes of European films. And I'm not happy that Stellan was cast in the American version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and not the original Swedish version with Michael Nyqvist.

01.23.21:

Director Maria Sodahl's Norwegian film HOPE opened in Spain yesterday so a few interviews with Stellan have surfaced online. India's Pledge Times featured an interview most likely from other sources. Most of the questions and answers were familiar but the following were interesting:

Q: Are you worried about death?

Stellan: Not at all. Life is a lottery that I try to live intensely. I am not a fatalist, nor do I worry about what might create fear in advance. I guess I’m not afraid of death because I’m not religious. I don’t believe in the devil or in hell.

Q: Are you still excited about awards?

Stellan: From the first to the last. Actors are very insecure animals and winning prizes always makes us happy.

Q: Do you enjoy the fame you have achieved?

Stellan: I get bored. It is easier for me to walk in Sweden than in the United States. There everyone asks me for a selfie. In Sweden I can continue riding the metro.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Stellan again spoke about death.

Stellan; We have a culture that spends a lot of money in denial of death. And of aging. A culture where we are encouraged to be forever young. Especially in the networks, today. And it is a total lie. For my part I was never afraid of death. I am not religious, and I accept death as part of life. But what also happens to us is that we destroy our time because of the fear of aging and dying.

Q: Can the pandemic change that?

Stellan: Yes, but depending on which cases. For well-educated people it may be good to stay home and evaluate these things. But for those who live from day to day and cannot pay rent or food, what is happening is not a philosophical question.

According to Agencia Efe, Stellan is currently filming ANDOR, the prequel to "Rogue One" in London, from where he talks by phone with Efe. He is concerned about the saturation of hospitals and the new strain of covid that is rising like foam; but he takes good care of himself, he assures, although shooting is getting more and more difficult.

Stellan says, "The rules change all the time in England every week. It is true that everyone makes incredible effort with the security measures, but it really is a surreal experience, it is becoming harder. The good thing is that once you are in front of the camera, everything does not matter."

Q. Can the pandemic help many people to reconsider the truth of their relationships?

Stellan; To a certain privileged class, yes. The pandemic has given them the opportunity to stop and reflect, but I do not think that the rest of the people, who are millions, have been of any use to them. It is not for them the psychological aspect that counts, but the reality that they live, and it is not good at all.

Q.  The Norwegian healthcare system is very envious.

Stellan; Yes, in Scandinavia we have a magnificent health system, but in Sweden, where I was born, they are literally beginning to destroy it because the neoliberal market is beginning to prevail; even so, I think it's still the best in the world. Now, my wife has a family in the US and the difference is terrible. There are millions of people there who have nowhere to turn, they do not have the least coverage. That country, in that respect, is underdeveloped, and the pandemic is revealing how essential it is to have a functioning health system. How important it is to spend money on health, schools and education.

In an interview with Noticias De Navarra, Stellan comments on working with male and female directors. He answers, "Normally I do not care if there is a penis in the pants of the person who directs. In general, I do not notice a difference, but I think that stories headed by women are more personal and revolve more around human relationships. It's not as if men would not be good at that, but that explosions are better for them (laughing) but, once on set, there is no difference, really ".

01.16.21:

The following photos were taken on August 22, 1996 when Stellan was 49 years old. Can you believe that come June 13th he will turn 70!

I've added a new photo gallery from the RONIN premiere that took place on Wednesday, September 23, 1998 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Michael Quintanilla of the LA Times titled the evening "Fast, French and Full of Film Stars. He wrote:  

Wednesday night’s premiere of "Ronin," United Artists’ action thriller on steroids, directed by John Frankenheimer. The flick, which opens today - and features an unforgettable, knuckle-gripping Mother of All Car Chases against traffic through the teeny-weeny streets of Paris - was screened before about 800 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills. Party-goers then chased each other to Chasen’s restaurant where they buzzed about that chase!

More than 35 television crews and 50 photographers lined the Academy’s sidewalk and lobby vying for snaps of the film’s stars - Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård and Sean Bean... The party was delightful, delovely and delicious, but De Niro decided to ditch it after the screening. But his co-stars carried on. "The chase scene will be very popular with the audience," Reno predicted in his deep French accent. "It puts you inside the car, and it was done without any computers, it’s for real. Myself, I’m a good driver, but sometimes I am too fast of a driver. I am less disciplined than Los Angeles drivers."

"I used to be a fast driver," added Skarsgård, "but after this movie I find myself being a very, very careful driver."

Revelers at the party (hosted by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) dined on mostly French cuisine (coq au vin, chateaubriand that melted in one’s mouth like buttah, crepes patisserie and more) on several buffet tables decorated with ice sculptures of the Eiffel Tower. A dance floor was surrounded by red velvet drapes, ornate mirrors and upholstered banquettes where couples got lovey-dovey. Others jammed into a back room where the celebs got chummy.

Stellan was once asked if he was impressed by working with Robert De Niro and he responded, "I don’t look at it that way. Of course, I’m aware of what an icon he is, but I know he’s just as nervous as anyone else. He’s a terrific actor, but there are many terrific actors that nobody knows about. From a pure actor's standpoint, it isn’t more of a big deal to work with De Niro than with Pernilla August. She’s just as good." Yes, I'm certainly aware that Pernilla August is one awesome actress and director! And Stellan has had the good fortune to work with her on several film projects.

A new DUNE poster of Stellan -

01.11.21:

Upon completing the film "Täcknamn Coq Rouge", Stellan was once again cast as Swedish agent Carl Hamilton in a 1989 one-hour TV dramatization called FÖRHÖRET (The Interrogation), which is based on a passage in Jan Guillou's book "Fiendens fiende".  In this story Hamilton is called before KU (Sweden's answer to the American congressional hearing) to answer questions about a spy war between Sweden and the Soviet Union. Reviewer Malin Nilsson of kulturdelen.com wrote, "Skarsgård is perfectly broad-shouldered, handsome in uniform and reasonably scarred. Under heavy eyelids, the gaze flutters and hints at the emotions hidden behind Hamilton's militarily disciplined facade. The muscles twitch discreetly when Hamilton is annoyed or attracted to laughter without the need for any major emotional expressions. The picturesque Skarsgård is a great contrast to the gray-clad politicians that he verbally fights against."

When it was released on DVD in 2012, the reviewer wrote, "It is above all Stellan Skarsgård who carries this drama. He is a pro at his fingertips and it shows. Seeing him act and react in a reasonably military rigid way, complete with underlying frustration, anger and powerlessness is pure pleasure." You can view film clips at this youtube link.

The following new photos were taken at the Stockholm premiere of HOPE on October 14, 2020. I think Stellan looks a bit off as if he's somewhat distracted.

01.09.21:

The photo I used on my 01/01/21 post was from a photo shoot that Stellan did in 2014 at one of his favorite drinking establishments - Kvarnen in the Södermalm district of Stockholm. Advising tourists, Stellan said, "Drink at Kvarnen, one of the oldest pubs in the city." The following are several more photos from that shoot.

Over five decades of acting, Stellan has been cast as Swedish spy Carl Hamilton three times. Based on the novels by Jan Guillou, the main character is an elite military officer working for the Swedish Security agency and Intelligence agency during the end of the Cold War, residing in Stockholm but active internationally. Hamilton has often been referred to as Sweden's James Bond, but the plot of these Guillou novels are centered more on politics and journalism, comparing the author to John la Carré and Len Deighton. Guillou's first novel was published in 1986 and the series became a bestseller in Sweden with Hamilton appearing in a number of film and television adaptations.

Our Swede first appeared as Carl Hamilton in 1989 in TÄCKNAMN COQ ROUGE, [Codename Coq Rouge] directed by Per Berglund. Stellan won a Guldbagge award for Best Actor and Göran Nilsson won the award for Best Cinematography. When the filmmakers originally chose Stellan to play Hamilton, author Jan Guillou had doubts that he was the right choice and he complained that Stellan was too thin and looked like an asparagus! Stellan shot back by calling Guillou a meatball. Touché! Stellan trained hard for the film and told the press a guy from the coast guard was teaching him close combat and weapon tactics. In the end, the film went on to become a huge international success and Stellan was cast twice more as the Swedish spy. The same year he starred in a 60-minute TV adaptation called "Förhöret" [to be posted next week], and in 1992 he again played Hamilton in "Den Demokratiske Terroristen".

Sweden's Hedmark Reviews wrote, "The first film in which Jan Guillou's own version of James Bond appeared for the first time has an effectively cool tone thanks to Göran Nilsson's cinematography and an interesting story that takes us to the Middle East and is rounded off with a bloodbath. Skarsgård is excellent and the complexity of his character (a socialist with a noble background and Navy SEAL training) is highlighted and illustrated in an entertaining and exciting way."

Son Gustaf actually made his acting debut in this film as a scene-stealing nine-year-old, who plays Hamilton's nephew. As you can see in the photo below, he's adorable!

Check out this youtube link for an old interview with Stellan and Jan Guillou. You'll note that the young Stellan almost looks a bit cocky as he smokes his cigarette. The interview is followed by several clips from the film.

01.01.21:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I love the following quote from eldest son Alex who described his childhood in an interview with the Irish Times back in 2016 - "It was this big family of these weird, eccentric, bohemian people. There were huge dinner parties growing up. There were always people sitting around the table drinking and talking and eating. We were quite different from most of our friends. Today, I’m so grateful I had such a creative, social upbringing. But I had this idea for a couple of years that I just wanted my dad to wear a grey suit, drive a Saab, and carry a briefcase."

In describing his own childhood, Stellan has spoken about how often his family moved.  Because of the cost of raising so many children, his Dad had to take on higher-paying jobs so he changed jobs regularly. Often they were in other cities. Stellan shares, "It was not easy for a person to leave friends behind. I no doubt learned during this period that I can adapt quickly to new environments and new circumstances. We moved to a new place about every two years, so I went to a different school and a different class every two years. However, my family was stable around me and they were always a sure point in my life. We could count on my parents, but we brothers were always there for each other. Because of them, I became so family-oriented as an adult."

While he hasn't played Dr. Erik Selvig for over five years, Stellan may not be finished with the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet. He originally had a four-movie deal with Marvel Studios. The first half of his contractual obligations were used for the first two Thor projects, while the latter half were taken up by the first two Avengers films. When asked about his return to the big screen comics mythos, he replied, "I haven't heard from them, but I wouldn't mind... I remember saying to Kevin Feige, 'Is there really any money in this comic book thing?' He looked at me like I was a f***in idiot. Which I was, of course."

 

   

 

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