APRIL/MAY NEWS 2009:

05.18.09:

ANGELS & DEMONS had an outsized international debut this weekend of $104.3 million from 96 territories. That made for a $152.3 million worldwide tally, though domestic grosses were on the lower end of industry expectations at only $48 million, far less than the earlier "Da Vinci Code, which earned $77.1 million when it opened in 2006. Jeffrey Hartke, an analyst for Hollywood Stock Exchange, estimated that "Angels" would generate weekend sales of $53 to $57 million since it was the only film opening this weekend in wide release. Obviously, its less than stellar reviews may have hampered its domestic debut but executives expect the movie, produced for an estimated $150 million, to display good holding power in the marketplace.. Sony worldwide distribution president Rory Bruer said. "We should make it to $500 million worldwide."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I've posted a Norwegian interview from last week. In regard to religion, Stellan tells the press that he is happy to live in a secular country where you can be an atheist without being stoned! And even though he holds no religious beliefs of his own, he claims in his role in "Angels", playing a believer is no different than playing a Nazi as he did in TORTE BLUMA. By the way, for those who have noticed a new film in his IMDB filmography called "Guilty Hearts" (2005), let me clarify this. What producer Thomas Bannister did was compile six short films and put them together on one DVD. "Torte Bluma" was included. It is now available in Russia, but not in the USA.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)The Ebay auction for the two doodles that Stellan had drawn for the NF charity ended yesterday with both doodles sold at $76 each. [See 5/16 update]

05.17.09:

The big news of the day is the announcement of Stellan's next film project. Last week when he was asked about future films, he responded, "I have something in the pipeline, but nothing clear." Well, it seems to be clear now. In October Stellan will be headed to Australia where he will star in THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR with Kristin Scott Thomas. Bankside Films has acquired the $6 million-dollar film to be directed by Andy De Emmony, who recently directed the BBC drama GOD ON TRIAL with Stellan. The screenplay, written by William Boyd, is based on a true story from John Treherne’s book of the same name. It follows an idealistic couple living on a remote island in the Galapagos Islands. When a seductive European Baroness arrives, accompanied by her two lovers, their dreams are shattered.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I came upon these photos this weekend from one of the Swedish newspapers. You may remember that while Stellan was in LA last August, he used some free time to shoot  three episodes of the HBO's series, ENTOURAGE. In September, co-star Adrian Grenier and Stellan met up in Stockholm  at PA & Co, the city's fashionable restaurant that's known as a favorite hangout for Swedish celebrities.

05.16.09:

Another day and more feedback has surfaced on the latest Dan Brown thriller. Opinion is fairly unanimous that ANGELS falls into the category of the typical mindless summer blockbuster. That doesn't mean the movie won't make money or that our star didn't have fun. Besides financial gain, Stellan is always quick to point out that making movies should be fun. Since his Richter character has been described as ornery, grumpy, sinister, suspicious, stuffy, shifty, dour and skeptical, Stellan must have relished this role. One thing he didn't relish was that Swiss German accent which he refers to as "a f***ing nightmare." He does admit that the food in Rome was so good that he put on about 13 pounds in one month. I've added a German interview today. Yes, it has been translated and note that the film is referred to as "Illuminati".

button_box.gif (205 bytes)BOOGIE WOOGIE will have its world premiere in June at the Edinburgh Film Festival. It will be shown on June 26 & 27. Adapted by Danny Moynihan from his own 2000 novel, documentary filmmaker Duncan Ward’s directs this black comedy lampooning the fine art world. Set against the backdrop of contemporary London, it features heartless agents, self-seeking artists, corrupt dealers and sexual predators of all persuasions. Besides Stellan, the international cast also includes Charlotte Rampling, Amanda Siefried, Alan Cumming, Heather Graham, Danny Huston and Gillian Anderson. Duncan Ward, who happens to be the husband of art curator Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, promises a wry look at the machinations of a London-based art dealer and his cohorts. Danny Huston plays Art Spindle, an art dealer who covets Piet Mondrian's abstract expressionist painting Broadway Boogie Woogie - owned by collector Alfred Rhinegold, played by Christopher Lee. Problems ensue when Rhinegold, who bought the painting from Mondrian himself, refuses to sell it. Stellan plays art collector Bob Maclestone, married to Jean (Anderson) but enjoying a nice fling on the side.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Stellan has once again graciously donated another two doodles for a charitable cause. Love the duck one!

The auction is sponsored by NF (Neurofibromatosis), a national, tax-exempt charitable organization whose mission is to create a network of support for those affected by NF, through education, advocacy, and coalitions, and by supporting research for treatments and a cure. The first pair of doodles were donated last year and the second pair are presently being auctioned on Ebay ending on May 17th. The latest bid is $41 for the tractor and $73 for the duck.

05.15.09:

I guess you've seen the headlines today - "Stellan Skarsgård slams Dan Brown's writing". Don't you just love his honesty? You can watch the interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT at this link. Mind you, it's in Swedish but here's a brief translation of what was said during the ANGELS & DEMONS discussion. Stellan said, "I think Dan Brown is a terribly bad writer, but he has cliffhangers after every chapter which makes you continue reading. It's like eating peanuts at a bar. You don't like them, but you keep on eating them anyway." He believes "Angels" is better than the first film because "the story is simpler and more straightforward, but just as dramatic." He admits that the script by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman was significantly different from the book. When he originally met with director Ron Howard in London, Stellan told him he didn't see a role for himself. The scriptwriters then wrote up a few characters and ultimately created Richter, which our Swede accepted.

Considering the highly discussed topic on the quality of Dan Brown's writing, consensus is that he is indeed no literary genius. He is foremost a storyteller, not a writer, and succeeds in keeping the reader absorbed, as Stellan points out. UK film critic Andrew Hagen sums it up best with Brown writes "a whole lot of historical junk and mystical hokum" satisfying 40 million readers looking to "spice up their train journeys with a harmless spot of portentous rubbish." I personally think Dan Brown is such a bad writer that he makes me want to go to the library to check out a Robin Cook novel or better yet, suggest Michael Crichton for the next Pultizer Prize or rush to reserve my advance copy of Palin's tell-all!. Need I say more... As to whether Stellan should have kept mum on the subject, not provoking the possible ire of the film's producers, well, it was typical Skargårdism, which fans have come to love and appreciate. Unlike many Hollywood stars, he doesn't spit out the usual nonsense.

Because of the opening of the film in most of the world this week, there's tons of news so over the next few days, re-visit this site for additional updates. To begin with, you can check out another online interview with Sweden's Expressen newspaper and one at Moviezine. On the Rotten Tomatoes Meter, it's presently registering a 37% with 176 reviews counted thus far, falling way below expectations of the film's investors. As a rule, I stay away from films produced by Brian Glazer or directed by Ron Howard or starring Tom  Hanks, but I might make an exception here since we so rarely see Stellan dressed in a suit and tie.

05.05.09:

The Hollywood Reporter has posted the first review of ANGELS & DEMONS. Critic Deborah Young writes, "It will be difficult for this papal mystery, beautifully shot in Rome and Rome-like locations, to gross less than its phenomenal predecessor, which topped $750 million worldwide for Sony Pictures in 2006." She goes on to say that the "movie delivers as far as what the audience really wants to see: burning cardinals and spectacular explosions." Well, perhaps illiterate 15-year-old boys, but those of us who also read, aren't that keen on pyrotechnics and prefer intelligent drama and dialogue. Young also indicates that Hanks fits more comfortably into the role of Langdon this time around,  and whereas "Da Vinci" was criticized for the lack of sexual chemistry between its protagonists, "Angels" simply refuses to suggest any kind of romance between Langdon and Vetra." I'm not sure if that's positive or not.

In his Variety review, Todd McCarthy disagrees with Young, stating that the film is unlikely to match the $750 million-plus worldwide haul of "Da Vinci" but it will  nonetheless make an unholy amount of money. He writes, "Brown's straight-line plotting, streamlined by scenarists David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman, creates some impatience and a hunger for any kind of surprise. The latter is satisfied to an extent by the climax, which, however far-fetched, is visually spectacular and dramatically both evenhanded and unexpected." In comparing it to its prequel, McCarthy describes the new "cleverly-produced melodrama" as "less turgid and aggravating".

Reviewers at the Vatican's newspaper have passed judgment on the Dan Brown thriller finding the film commercial and inaccurate, but concluding it is "harmless" entertainment and not a danger to the church. The newspaper wrote that the movie was "a gigantic and smart commercial operation" and it praised Howard's "dynamic direction" and the "magnificent" reconstruction of locations like St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Much of the film was shot on sets that painstakingly recreated church landmarks.

Xan Brooks of The Guardian (UK) summed up the film with "Howard's adaptation is unwieldy, elephantine and frequently foolish. But in its bumbling fashion it means no harm and even wants to help. What a conversion. Where the Dan Brown franchise once gave offence, it now mounts a glossy, multimillion dollar act of atonement. On this occasion, the tone is less contentious, and possibly less cavalier as well. The film's argument seems to be that while there are a few bad apples in the Catholic church, the institution itself is well worth fighting for, and that science is hardly any better – particularly when it produces things that might blow up and kill people."

05.03.09:

Several cast members of ANGELS & DEMONS gathered for a photocall today at the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. Among those posing were Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Ewan McGregor, Pierfrancesco Favino, along with writer Dan Brown and director Ron Howard. The Rome premiere takes place tomorrow and I suspect Stellan will not be in attendance with his current film project in Oslo. Unlike Brown's other work, Da Vinci Code, this film promises to be less an attack on the deity of Jesus Christ and more on the Illuminati, a legendary secret society. Howard emphasizes, "Let me be clear: neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is - an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome." Most European audiences will have the chance to see it on May 13th while American audiences will have to wait until the 15th.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)In a recent interview, Stellan's 19-year-old son Bill names his father as his greatest role model. Last month there was much publicity on the opening of  the Swedish comedy, KENNY BEGINS, a science fiction film directed by Carl Åstrand and Mats Lindberg. The film is made as a standalone prequel to the 1997 television series Kenny Starfighter. Johan Rheborg stars as Kenny, an aspiring galaxy hero who crash lands on Earth, where he meets Pontus, played by Bill, a limping and bullied 15-year-old who has accidentally found a mysterious and luminary power crystal that has given him super powers. Bill's film career began when he was ten years old and he was last seen with his father and brothers Gustaf and Valter in ARN. He admits that he always had fun being on film locations with the family and looks up to his dad as his greatest role model. His father's advice to him has always been, "You can do what you want and I will respect your choice," but he believes his dad is happy that he has chosen the same career.

Though he understood as a child the movies were only make-believe, Bill still found it upsetting that his father died in so many of them. He remembers his father's death in JŐNSSONLIGAN and how it made him cry so much. And he realizes that it's not always easy being a Skarsgård because you're so often judged and compared to the rest of the family. Bill would like to be regarded as a separate person, apart from the Skarsgård name, not an easy feat. Eldest brother Alexander has previously echoed that sentiment, "I want to be hired for having talent rather than being just a name." However, 28-year-old Gustaf admits that the Skarsgård name means that "people are interested from the very beginning. You get the chance to prove that you are good enough." When Bill is asked why Sam left the limelight after his small role in JIM OCH PIRATERNA BLOM, he laughs and replies that his older brother is interested in medicine (like his mother), adding that he is "very smart and talented." That leaves 14-year-old Valter, who has already made three films to date and 17-year-old Eija, Stellan's only daughter, who is presently making a modeling career for herself, which is not a surprise when you see how beautifully tall she is. You can view her photo gallery here.

04.29.09:

According to Swedish newspapers, Stellan and Megan have named their new son Ossian. Stellan announced, "Our son was born early on Sunday morning at Ullevål Hospital in Oslo." The proud father said he should be named Ossian.
He thus follows an old tradition for the Swedish king to select the name from the fictional Scottish folk epic Ossian-songs. The pair have been living in Oslo during the filming of REGNSKAP. Stellan added, "Both mother and son are great, and they remain at Ullevål hospital." He had been in Stockholm to do some interviews for his upcoming ANGELS & DEMONS, but they had to be cancelled when he had to quickly travel to Oslo to be present for the birth of his seventh child.

04.27.09:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Congratulations are in order! Stellan has another son! He and his wife Megan gave birth yesterday to a little boy, still awaiting a name. He has five sons and a daughter from a previous marriage.