MARCH - MAY 2006 NEWS:

05.18.06:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)BEOWULF AND GRENDEL will have a U.S. theatrical release in six cities this summer. It will be released in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco as part of an agreement with Union Station Media, a joint venture of Alliance Atlantis and Arclight Films International. The film will open in Seattle on June 16, following its screening at the Seattle Int'l Film Festival on June 8 & 10. Here is the schedule:

June 16 - Seattle ~ Varsity (Landmark Theatre)
June 30 - San Francisco ~ Opera Plaza (Landmark Theatre)
July 7 - New York ~ Quad Cinema
July 14 - Chicago ~ Century (Landmark Theatre)
July 28 - Los Angeles ~ Westside Pavilion (Landmark Theatre)
August 11 - Boston ~ Kendall Square (Landmark Theatre)

05.10.06:

There was a brief article on May 2nd in Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper in which Stellan talks about his role in POTC: DEAD MAN'S CHEST. They ask who is the moldy old man covered in seaweed and sludge. Stellan, of course! He plays the father of Orlando Bloom but obviously there's no resemblance as Bootstrap Turner looks more like the basis for a shellfish soup. Stellan is asked about shooting the film. "Fun, but makeup takes longer and longer. In total it's been up to four and a half hours, plus one and a half hours for getting rid of it. That's six hours added to a day already 12 to 15 hours long with work." When asked what's Orlando like to act with, he responds, "I've actually only done one scene with him so far. Orlando's cute." Stellan is then asked about his fascinating haircuts in KING ARTHUR and BEOWULF. "Yeah, there's a lot of glue. I don't know why. Maybe people got sick of my face and decided to glue a lot of stuff on it."

The Pirates film will premiere at Disneyland on June 24th with its US theatrical release on July 7th. You can check the IMDB for the release dates for individual countries at this link. Co-star Bill Nighy, who plays the evil Davy Jones, was recently asked what it was like working with Stellan. He replied, "Wholly fantastic. He plays his role with a compelling melancholy that is wondrous to behold." Swedish newspaper Dala-Demokraten reports that Stellan will earn about a million kronor for each of the POTC sequels.

I have some updates regarding WΛZ (W DELTA Z), the psychological thriller, directed by Tom Shankland with a screenplay by Clive Bradley. The film, produced by Vertigo Films, began shooting in Belfast on May 8th with a cast that includes Melissa George, Selma Blair and Ashley Walters. Stellan stars as veteran Detective Eddie Argo. The synopsis is as follows: Well worn by years of  gangland brutality, Argo prides himself on playing by the book. However, loyalties wane as he and his new rookie partner Helen O'Mara (George) find themselves entangled in a string of violent and horrific killings that are targeting a notorious local gang - forcing Argo to revisit a case he would rather forget. In the midst of mounting terror, the calculating killer stays focused on the ultimate goal - to coerce Argo to pay for his previous mistakes and answer a final question... Would you kill the one you love to save yourself from death? I came across a notice online that asked for an editor, camera operator and sound recordist to help in the making-of-the-film documentary. Filming will continue through mid-June. Special thanks to Victoria Edwards for this new information.

04.26.06:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)There's a good chance that BEOWULF AND GRENDEL will be getting a US distributor and may be shown in six major cities in late spring. The release of the DVD is tentatively scheduled for July 11th. Director Sturla Gunnarrson reports that the DVD will include a portion of "Wrath Of The Gods", Jon Gustafsson's behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film. BEOWULF was screened in March at Sarasota's Film Festival in Florida and, according to rumors, it will be featured at future film festivals. Here are more movie stills of Stellan -

04.05.06:

In a recent interview Director Sturla Gunnarsson recalls, "Stellan was always my first choice for Hrothgar — he is a Viking and he is one of the most powerful actors alive — but the terms of our co-production treaty didn’t allow us to cast outside of the co-producing countries, so it took a long time and a lot of jigs and reels before I was even allowed to offer him the part. Once I was able to do that, he read the script, called me, we talked for 10 minutes and he said he was in." Someone else has an equally high opinion of Stellan - Natalie Portman. While promoting her film V for Vendetta, she described her GOYA'S GHOSTS co-stars, Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgård, as "two of the greatest actors in the world." She also added praise for her director, Milos Forman - "He definitely is about trusting his actors and not talking too much about things, except when there's something wrong. That was a great environment to be in, especially since he's so confident about how he's going to do it. You never do superfluous takes. He knows when you've hit it and that you're not going to need it for specific angles."

03.14.06:

BEOWULF AND GRENDEL opened in Canada on Friday with a scattering of so-so reviews. It's been a disappointment that that the film has never acquired a US distributor so American fans will have to wait until its DVD release in August. The only comment thus far on Stellan's performance  comes from Mark Harris (Straight.com) who writes, "Thanks to great performances from Stellan Skarsgård (as conscience-stricken King Hrothgar), Gerard Butler (as the surprisingly subdued hero), and Sarah Polley (who steals the show as a sexy, witchy monster-vamp), the camp potential is kept to an absolute minimum." He continues, "The use of Icelandic locations is likewise quite skillful... If, in the final analysis, Beowulf & Grendel isn’t an entirely satisfying adaptation, that probably owes more to the grandeur of the source material than to any cinematic inadequacy on the director’s part."

Jim Slotek (Toronto Sun) notes that the film is "by turns stark, ludicrous and fascinating, with the odd dumb joke and anachronistic wisecracks leavening the earnestness." On the positive side, he praises Gerry Butler as the "pleasingly ambivalent Beowulf, more concerned with his opponent's motivation than with simply hunting him down". However, he refers to Sarah Polley's accent as "nails-on-a-blackboard." Louis B. Hobson (Calgary Sun) agrees - "In a film where some of the accents are thick, Polley speaks in contemporary English. It's jarring and detracts from the realism Gunnarsson tries so hard to create in Beowulf & Grendel." Brian Johnson (Maclean's)adds, "The dialogue, written as a harsh cadence of English words with Norse roots, is often difficult to catch."

Trent Wilkie (Vue Weekly of Edmonton) describes the icelandic epic as "a visually stunning film that manages to capture some of the poem's vital essence." However, Wilkie goes on to say that the film seems "hooked on brevity" resulting in a lack of character development. And more complaints about Sarah Polley's "accentless portrayal". He concludes that although the scenery gives the film legitimacy and a real sense of the desolation, the audience is left with the feeling of what the film could have been, not what it is.

And  Katherine Monk (Ottawa Citizen) writes, "Despite Gunnarsson's best efforts to bring ambiguity to every frame, and Butler's strong performance as a warrior slowly learning the importance of seeing the other side, the script tends to make these complex and very internal questions obvious to the naked eye... Berzin's treatment is admirable, but lacks subtlety. Too much of the internal drama is yanked out and laid bare for the viewer and half the time just feels silly."  She sums up her review with "A truly strange effort, Beowulf and Grendel is a magnificent film to watch, thanks to the majestic visuals and the captivating scenery, but it fails to satisfy emotionally, and whether you're talking about a 1,200-year-old text or a cutting-edge film shot on location, that's all that matters."

Some of you may be aware of Stellan's childhood and the fact that he ended up marrying the sister of his best friend, Johan Gunther. I've added an article from the March 1994 issue of Swedish magazine, Damernas Varld, in which these two best friends discuss their long-time relationship. Obviously a collaboration on a film project never got off the ground, but you have to wonder what this dynamic duo might have produced. I think you'll enjoy this sweet story of two forty-year-olds reminiscing about their boat dreams and enduring friendship through the years. The translation of this article is courtesy of Robin Solsjö Höglund. Tack så mycket, Robin, from all Stellan fans!

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I've checked with Stellan about his work schedule this year. Though Screen Daily had announced that he would star in Hair of the Dog, the sequel to My Life as a Dog, there isn't an ounce of truth to this news. We both wonder where the media digs up these stories. Stellan jokingly adds that he's presently not attached to any "fur productions". He has just returned to Sweden after spending some time in the Bahamas once again filming PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. There will be a hiatus until August in order that the filmmakers can prepare for the long-awaited July premiere of DEAD MAN'S CHEST. A month later filming will resume for PIRATES 3 in LA where he expects to remain until the end of September. His newest film project, W DELTA Z, is scheduled for a May-June shoot of six weeks in Belfast and New York. Stellan says it's a very good script and looks forward to working on this first feature-length film for UK writer/director Tom Shankland.

Of course, we await GOYA'S GHOSTS this year with great anticipation and excitement. According to Spanish publications, the film's co-writer, Jean-Claude Carrière, plans to release the script in novel form at the same time the film premieres. A November date is presently being given. There's been a lot of hype over the past several months on message boards and such on Oscar chances for the three leads. It seems a bit premature, not to mention plain silly, to discuss who will "steal the show". Suffice to say that all three actors - Stellan, Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman - are equally dedicated and top-notch actors who most assuredly have put in splendid performances, and furthermore, would most likely find all this talk a bit of nonsense. I put some questions to Stellan about the film and he graciously answered them. What first came to mind was his performance as another painter in the bittersweet 1987 film, HIP, HIP, HURRA! in which he plays Danish artist Soren Krøyer. Stellan agreed that it would be "hard to compete with that film's cinematography, which is quite unique." However, he thinks "Goya is also very beautifully shot by Javier Aguirresarobe, who did such good work in The Sea Inside," [which also starred Bardem who brought his usual effervescence and charisma.] If you haven't seen this film, I heartily recommend it. I asked Stellan if he saw any correlation between the two painters to which he replied, "I don’t really see any similarities in the characters of Goya and Krøyer. Where Krøyer desperately tried to deny the darkness of life, Goya went right in and painted it, and where Kröyer’s paintings are sweet, decorative and escapistic, Goya shows us the world as it is with all its beauty and ugliness."