FEBRUARY 2005 NEWS:

2.18.05:

Paul Schrader's version of EXORCIST to be screened! Yes, it will have its world premiere at the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Films on Friday evening, March 18th. UK journalist Geoffrey Macnab writes that it appears to be "a precursor to what looks like a limited theatrical rollout. The film's title will be Paul Schrader's Exorcist: The Original Prequel. The Renny Harlin version was released to lukewarm reviews but took in a healthy worldwide gross of $76 million. While Morgan Creek has been unclear on its plans surrounding the original $35 million version - it once thought of premiering it on a DVD release alongside the Harlin take - it has never ruled out theatrically releasing the Schrader version."

The BIFFF includes the following in its film description:  "When the financial backers of Exorcist: The Beginning saw that Paul Schrader had realized a psychological horror film and not the expected special effects extravaganza, they hired Renny Harlin to re-shoot the entire picture. Maybe, if they had thought it over, who else but the scriptwriter of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ, who else but the director of Cat People, The Affliction and Autofocus could have brought this twisted, diabolical tale of doubt, belief, guilt and madness to the big screen. That you can now see his version at the festival, is a blessing in itself."

2.17.05:

A reminder that EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING will be released on DVD and video in 12 days. Still no word about the Schrader release; however I have posted some new photos, and we can finally view a movie clip from his version!  This sounds promising that there might eventually be either a theatrical or DVD release. The scene in the clip is the evening when the generator has gone out and Nurse Rachel (Clara Bellar) talks with Father Merrin about God and her patient, the possessed boy named Che Che (played by Euro pop star Billy Crawford). Very peculiar that they used music from The English Patient. Anyway, the following brief dialogue does signal some hope for a more intriguing prequel.

Rachel: "No one wants to believe. It's so much easier to believe evil is random or an ogre, not that it's a human condition... God is not in the past. He's here all around us. He's in that boy who doesn't speak, though he tried to speak to you."

The second installment of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN will be called DEAD MAN'S CHEST. And shiver me timbers, Stellan is already in Los Angeles preparing for the shoot which begins in two weeks. I'll be anxious to get that first glimpse of old Bootstraps Turner in his make-up and costume. Can you believe that the first film has generated more than $1.2 billion in the first 19 months since its opening!! That figure is from combined theatrical and DVD/VHS sales. During a recent conference Disney chairman Dick Cook revealed the following plot for the sequel - " This time around, Johnny returns as Captain Jack Sparrow and is caught in yet another tangled web of supernatural intrigue. It turns out Captain Jack owes a blood debt to the legendary Davey Jones, ruler of the ocean depths and captain of the ghostly Flying Dutchman. If Jack can't figure a crafty way out of this one, he'll be cursed to an afterlife of eternal servitude and damnation. And as if that weren't enough, Captain Jack's problems throw a huge wrench into the wedding plans of the blissful Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, who quickly find themselves thrust into Jack's misadventures." I don't know exactly how Stellan's role plays out in all of this...

I've added more photos to the Exorcist Premiere Image Page, including the one below on the left. The photo on the right, just recently discovered, was taken during the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Obviously, the man really loves this shirt! Perhaps it's made of that wrinkle-free material where you can just throw it in a suitcase and it'll look great anytime. Be sure to click for super images.

I've added another interview (kindly translated by Judith Pfaff) from the August 2004 issue of Sweden's Café magazine. Stellan talks a bit about King Arthur and Exorcist, and typically answers questions with good humor. You'll also learn how quickly he can tell a good tomato from a bad one. Truly... Friend and fellow actor, Paul Bettany, says that in every city Stellan knows the best places to eat oysters and how to cut meat properly so you get the most flavor out of it. Guess he's quite the connoisseur of fine cuisine. One of these days I'll have to ask him to share a recipe with us.

There is still no official  shoot date for the psycho-thriller, DOWNLOADING NANCY, directed by Johan Renck, starring Stellan, Holly Hunter and William Hurt. Film production is expected to take place in Cologne, Germany and London.

Stellan quote on his looks:
"I have no idea what I look like for real. I change for every film so I suppose I'll get a shock when I have retired and see myself in the mirror after a couple of months."

 2.03.05:

BEOWULF AND GRENDEL will have a presence at the upcoming Göteborg Film Festival in Sweden. It is scheduled under the "Work in Progress" session this Saturday. I assume director Sturla Gunnarsson will discuss his film and perhaps show a short preview. Remember you can check out the preview yourself at the Movision Web Site. And behold, another great portrait of Hrothgar...

Dutch artist Rick Engelen wrote me and asked if I'd like to feature his painting of Stellan in the role of Randbaek in ZERO KELVIN. Thanks, Rick! He describes his work as "striving to capture the unexplainable beauty of the moment and the astonishing insanity of our existence." He says "mankind is a species with an infinite capacity for beauty and an infinite capacity for cruelty." If you saw the film, you'll understand why he chose Randbaek as his subject. A tormented soul....

"Then one day I came home early and she's laying there, with her legs in the air... And beside her is a pale naked man staring at me.   And he’s very scared. But he’s a gentleman. A man with good hygiene. Do you think she’s ashamed? No. She said that she was finally happy. Finally happy. And she was right, because desire is the only happiness. Desire. She taught me that, and for that I’m thankful. Desire… I couldn't help beat the son of a bitch to death, you see... I smashed in the skull of that gentleman. So much for love.  And hygiene."

Some of you may not realize that Pirates of the Caribbean 2 is actually the second pirate film for Stellan.  I've just posted the film page for the 1987 children's film, JIM OCH PIRATERNA BLOM (aka Jim and the Pirates), directed by Hans Alfredson. Stellan shared credit with Hans in writing  the script, based on stories from the comic strip. He also played the role of  Jim's father  while his wife My and son Sam have minor roles.

There'll be no updates for a couple weeks. I'm  escaping the snow-capped mountains here in the Catskills and finding  my way to a warmer climate with sandy beaches and "pass the sunscreen, honey..."

2.01.05:

You can now view a short trailer from Beowulf and Grendel at the Movision Web Site. It's a bit hard to decipher the scenes because the clarity is poor, but you'll clearly see Stellan introduced at the end. The music they're presently using is excellent, very haunting. There has been no information thus far regarding the soundtrack.

As reported previously, this past weekend the Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto was to screen director Sturla Gunnarsson's Rare Birds as well as a short preview of BEOWULF AND GRENDEL. I've summarized some comments made from someone who attended (I'd give credit but only a username was given): Before the preview, Sturla gave a brief introduction describing the ambience and period for the film and referred to the opulent Byzantine influence in the harsh world of these Danes as 'diamonds in the mud'. He spoke about the extreme weather conditions with volcano eruptions and windstorms that destroyed some of their equipment and vehicles. The scenes in the preview appeared to be well chosen showing a good introduction to the main characters, costumes, setting and overall mood of the film. The weather had a strong presence almost like another character (as Stellan has often said). And surprisingly in this brief intro, the character of Grendel elicited a sympathetic vote from the audience. Sturla said there is no set release date yet as the time required in post-production is too difficult to predict. A screening at the Toronto Film Festival in September is a possibility.

Here's a poster but strangely it just says Beowulf, so it's probably not the official poster they'll be using. At the screening, there was also some history given as to casting. The Film Board regulations required that the cast be either Canadian, Icelandic or from the UK. Ummm, how does our Swedish Stellan fit in? Well, he was Sturla's first choice for Hrothgar. Apparently, some good fortune and swift negotiating with the Film Board made this possible. For the character of Beowulf, Sturla felt that finding an actor who was a 'manly man' was hard enough on the global playing field, but it was more difficult given the restrictions. He was eventually drawn to Scottish actor Gerry Butler. Sarah Polley was also one of his choices, and fortunately, she was Canadian. There was no problem with Ingvar Sigurdsson since he was Icelandic and Ingvar clearly wanted to play Grendel. Icelandic residents made up most of the film's extras, particularly the Danes. Sturla thought that since Gerry was Scottish, he'd hire Scottish actors to portray his fellow Geats. Sturla laughed as he explained that ironically Stellan was the only real Geat in the film, and he plays the King of the Danes.

Another Beowulf film on the way - Sony Pictures Entertainment and producer Steve Bing have agreed to pay more than $2 million for a Beowulf script by Richard Avery (Pulp Fiction) and Neil Gaiman (Princess Mononoke) with plans for Robert Zemeckis to direct making use of the "facial-capture" computer animation techniques the helmer developed for his last film, The Polar Express.

I've posted a Turkish interview that was published online a couple months ago. We're all guilty of asking Stellan the same questions so, of course, he often gives the same answers! However, he did expound on a couple more personal subjects. When asked to describe his film EXORCIST, he replied, " I see it as a fairy tale meant to be entertaining, but also about losing faith in a wider way... not necessarily religious. Personally I don’t worship any god, but I try to do good. And if there is a God, and a good one, he/she will not be vain enough to judge me by my worshiping, but by the good I do among my fellow humans." And it appears that Stellan, known for his love of cooking which includes Thai, Italian and French recipes, has also tried his hand at Moroccan cuisine making köfte, kebab and salads. Not too surprising since Stellan has done three films in Morocco.