APRIL 2012:

4.28.12

Filming will begin in Scotland on Monday for THE RAILWAY MAN, Stellan's latest project, which was reported here on the 4/5 update. A press conference was held yesterday in Edinburgh's Waverley Gate building with Stellan joined by Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine, screenwriter Andy Paterson, producer Bill Curbishley and director Jonathan Teplitzky. The World War II movie tells the life story of Scot Eric Lomax (played by Firth), who was captured and tortured by Japanese soldiers. Stellan plays Lomax's best friend who accompanies him back to the scene of his torture. Hiroyuki Sanada ("Revenge" TV series) has joined the cast and will play a Japanese officer from the prison camp. Teplitzky said, "We are all captured by the story and Eric’s journey. With Eric being from this part of the world, it just seemed like a great place to start the journey." Filming will take place in Edinburgh and North Berwick in East Lothian before the cast and crew move to Thailand in late May and Queensland, Australia, in early June.

For those unaware, "The Railway Man" is a true story adapted from Eric Lomax’s best-selling book. According to the official blurb, "Eric Lomax (Firth) was one of thousands of Allied prisoners of war forced to work on the construction of the Thai/Burma railway during World War II. Years later, still haunted by memories of brutality and torture, he met a beautiful woman on a train named Patti (Kidman), who was determined to rid Eric of his demons. With the help of a wartime colleague, she set up a mission back to the Bridge on the River Kwai where Eric would confront his tormentor, Nagase Takashi."

During the press conference, Firth called the film a story about mental trauma following the atrocities of war describing his character as "someone who is searching for a way home." Kidman, who replaced Rachel Weisz at the last minute, claimed that she was still polishing her English accent while Stellan added, "I'm struggling to play English. We'll see how it works." 

Handling the book-to-screen translation is screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce (A Cock And Bull Story, 24 Hour Party People) and producer-come-co-scripter Andy Paterson. “It’s one of those stories that once you’ve read it you can never let it go” stressed Paterson, saying that the movie is both a “big production” and an “emotional thriller”.

The film is an Australia/U.K. co-production, with Lionsgate U.K. taking worldwide rights. The film has been pre-sold to Metropolitan in France, eOne in Benelux, West in Russia, Spentzos in Greece, Ascot Elite in Switzerland, Gussi in Latin America, Mislabel in Scandinavia and Forum in Poland.

4.24.12

The Hollywood Reporter has provided more details on Stellan's upcoming film project with Danish director, Lars von Trier.  Charlotte Gainsbourg has signed up to co-star in the pornographic drama, "Nymphomaniac". The synopsis reads as follows: "Nymphomaniac" is the light and poetic story of a woman's erotic journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe (Charlotte). On a cold winter's evening Seligman (Stellan), an old bachelor, finds Joe semi-unconscious and beaten up in an alleyway. After bringing her to his flat, he sees to her wounds while trying to understand how things could have gone so wrong for her. He listens intently as she recounts the lush and multi-faceted story of her life, rich in associations and interjecting incidents. Structurally, the film will be divided into eight chapters with titles, such as "The Little Organ School". Despite its pornographic title and expected content, it reportedly will be largely dialogue-driven. The film's producer, and von Trier's business partner, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, said the film will be "very erotic but also very funny."

The actress has previously worked with the controversial director in two previous films - "Antichrist" and "Melancholia". She is the daughter of English actress Jane Birkin and French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. Von Trier plans to shoot both a soft and hardcore version of the English-language feature, with the latter expected to include graphic depictions of penetration. Funding is coming from The NRW Film Foundation of Germany with $1.6 million in production subsidies. The film will be shot entirely in the German state of North-Rhein Westphalia with production set to begin this summer. Of course, the big question is whether or not the film will ever be submitted to the Cannes Film Festival after last year's fiasco.

Earlier this month UK's Guardian asked Stellan how Lars von Trier compared to Ingmar Bergman. He replied, "Bergman was hyper-intelligent but I never liked him as a person. He was not a good man. All directors are control freaks but he was extreme. He did things to people that were not kosher. He didn't destroy people to make them better actors: he destroyed them to utilize his power." Bergman directed Stellan on television in "Hustruskolan" and on stage in "A Dream Play."

When Stellan is asked if he's actually a calming influence on a von Trier set, he reveals his good humor - "I have the feeling that Lars uses me like they use those castrated bulls in Pamplona: they send in a couple of them to calm down the others. That's me: a castrated bull."

This particular interview takes place in Stellan's office in Stockholm and he's feeling quite happy. He says, "I just got here after seeing my eighth child on an ultrasound, so I'm in a good mood. It's beautiful: an energetic little skeleton." When asked why he's viewed as one of the nicest guys in the acting business, he says, "My father would tell me: 'Remember no one's worth more than you, and no one's worth less than you.' I treat everyone as equals. I can't work if I'm not having fun, and I can't have fun if everyone isn't happy."

4.23.12

According to MovieZine, Stellan's 17-year-old son, Valter, has been cast in the upcoming film, IRL, directed by Erik Leijonborg. Valter will co-star with Alba August and Happy Jankell, who also happen to be children of famous Swedish thespians. The film is described as a "cross-border adventure of evil among teenagers in the world of social media." Shooting will begin shortly with a spring 2013 release date.

Valter's first step into the world of cinema was in 2003 when he starred in the film, "Att döda ett barn" (To Kill a Child), co-directed and co-written by older brother Alexander and Björne Larson (pictured below). Stellan provided the narration for the short 8-minute film, which went on to capture the Grand Prix (Euro 3,500 and statuette) at the Odense Film Festival in Denmark. Here's a production photo showing the sweet, tow-headed child posing for his scene. Yes, that's Stellan laying at the other end of the boat.

The same year Valter was cast in "Detaljer" and then in 2008, he co-starred alongside his father and brother Bill in "Arn: The Kingdom at Road's End".

In an Expressen interview, it is noted that Stellan has obviously secured the future of Sweden's acting business through his sons. He kiddingly says, "I'm jealous. They've already surpassed me. Now I'm left behind and can take it easy."

Back in August 2001, Aftonbladet announced that Alexander had taken his father's place on the women's list of sexy men. Cafe magazine gave the 25-year-old the top slot as the man that Swedish women would most like to have sex with. I added the color photos of Stellan plus Alexander in a couple shots from his modeling days with Guess Jeans.

When Stellan is questioned about "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" not receiving a film or director Oscar nomination, he admits he's annoyed and responds, "It is an amazing film and Fincher did a great job. I think there were many films that were much better than 'The Artist'".  He gives high marks for co-star Rooney Mara - "She is intelligent and friendly and a very good actress. She gives such a fantastic performance. It’s rare to see an American million-dollar movie where the heroine has no vanity at all. Not doing anything to be liked. Not doing anything to be stylish. Therefore, we love her. It would be fun to work with her again."

Stellan repeats his praise for his co-star in an interview posted today with Digital Spy -  "She's probably the greatest film heroine in many, many decades. It's a combination. On one level, she's vulnerable and abused but she gets back at her tormentors, and especially as Rooney Mara plays her, there's nothing in her that would make you like her really. Her exterior is not very appealing and she's not very charming, but she's smart and skilled and then after a while, you can't help but start to love her. That's the strange magic about it and Rooney's incredible. How many big American films do you see where the heroine has no vanity whatsoever? She doesn't smile and she doesn't try to look sexy, and she's ten times more powerful because of that." IMHO, Rooney Mara can't hold a match to Noomi Repace. In a mesmerizing performance, the Swedish actress takes on the 'soul' of Lisbeth Salander, not just the piercings and tattoos. She is downright scary.

Stellan is also asked about the current fascination with all things Scandinavian at the moment, such as the Danish crime TV series, "The Killing" and the film adaption of Jo Nesbo's book, "Headhunters". He answers, "Scandinavia has been producing very good crime novels for decades and it's funny because it's one of the most peaceful societies in the world; we have a very low crime rate and there are very few serial killers and rapes going on, but obviously we like writing about it. People like crime stories and commercially they do well, so that must be the reason." On a personal note, I highly recommend Jo Nesbo's book, "The Snowman" - it's one of those can't-put-down novels.

Regarding his film projects, Stellan mentions he has just finished shooting "Romeo and Juliet" in Italy and later this summer he's going to work with Lars Von Trier in "Nymphomaniac". But before that, he'll do "The Railway Man". He says he might be making an American film in the fall, but nothing has been signed yet so he's not at liberty to discuss it. Asked again about Swedish film projects, he replies, "It would be nice." He doesn't believe he's viewed as unreachable because of his star status. He explains, "Not at all, because I do get offers. It's just that they want me to play the bad guy in low-budget movies. And those can't compete with the bad guy parts I'm offered on the other side of the ocean."

So it appears that Stellan will have a busy year, especially in the fall with Megan expecting in early September. On becoming a father for the eighth time, Stellan says, "It's just as exciting and as fun as the first time but now it's easier. I have more time to spend with my children than years ago when I was going out to conquer the world".

Stellan Facts:

Where he lives: Söder district of Stockholm
Last book read: "I hope I haven't read my last book"
Music: Coldplay, Beethoven, Ella Fitzgerald
Dessert: "I don't eat desserts"

As far as our "True Blood" star, he's been quite the traveler lately, promoting his new movie, "Battleship", due out in theaters next month. Alexander tells Damernas Värld magazine, "I’ve been traveling and living in hotels for six months. I made two movies in New York. After that I went to Sweden for a few days to see my family, went to Rio de Janeiro where my Dad was filming, flew to Louisiana to another set, visited a couple of film festivals and came back here to LA about a month ago. It’s stressful to travel like that but I like it. Right now we are filming season five of  'True Blood'. He jokes, "In two years, Swedes will be out of fashion and I will be unemployed." I highly doubt it! Here's one of the photos from that article.

Stellan helped solve the problem of traveling to various filming locations by inviting family and friends to come along with him on his global trots.  I once asked Stellan what it was like to take his family to Cambodia when he was filming, "City of Ghosts" and he responded, "In the beginning of the shoot we lived in a brand new luxury hotel in Phnom Penh which was absurd and felt almost sickening considering the enormous poverty on the street outside our walls. My children also felt very bad about it and also a little scared by the attention they got as nobody was used to seeing such small blond people. Later we moved to a small town near the sea, Kampot, and there we lived in a house and mixed with the people. My children found friends and suddenly the poverty got a human face and became less scary to them even if the unfairness in our unequal conditions still upset them."

4.12.12

Well, I was wrong when I assumed Stellan would not attend the premiere of THE AVENGERS last night. How could I forget that Alexander is an LA guy now and what better person to bring along! The paparazzi know where to aim their camera and who among the "Avengers" crowd is going to turn more heads than a natural beauty like the "True Blood" handsome Swede. The premiere was  held at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood with director Joss Whedon and several of his cast members in attendance. Check out the photo gallery. The superheroes action film will open in US theaters on May 4th.

The Australian Sunday edition of the Herald Sun magazine section featured Alexander on April 8th. You can read the article by clicking on the images. Alexander reiterates what he told the E! interviewer in the above video as to being protective of his privacy. Just as his grandparents had given good advice to his father when he suddenly became a teenage TV star, Stellan passed the words of wisdom down to his children. For maintaining your privacy and even sanity, it's also healthy to understand the difference between how the public perceives you and the "real" you. I remember several years ago I gave Stellan a set of questions and there were some he chose not to answer. I had indicated that I was a parent of six children as well and, like him, our family had spent summers by the sea at the same cottage for many years.  He chose not to answer what his summer home meant to him and his family. I'm sure there are cherished memories, but they are not about to be shared with the world.

I've previously shared my long-time admiration for actor Liam Neeson and it appears he also has advice for Alexander according to Sweden's Aftonbladet. Liam can be seen in the upcoming "Battleship" and he told his young co-star not to stay too long in LA. He advised getting a place outside of a town consumed by the film industry, where it can sometimes become really depressing. And Liam was not slow to offer praise, saying "I have always admired his father. He is legendary. And the apple does not fall far from the tree." In fact, Liam and Natasha Richardson, who died tragically in a skiing accident three years ago, lived with their two boys in a quiet upstate New York town not far from my home. I would frequent a restaurant whose owner adored his visits. Isn't it refreshing to see actors maintaining their integrity rather than watching the sordid lives of so many celebrities continually splashed across the tabloids? Think Lindsay Lohan....

On Tuesday this week, the Blu-ray edition and DVD of KING OF DEVIL'S ISLAND was released by Film Movement in the US and Canada. The Norwegian film received high honors in its homeland, winning the equivalent of the Oscar for Best Film and Best Actor for Stellan as the head of the institution for wayward boys. For further insight into the film, you can watch a Skype interview with Stellan (in English) from his home in Sweden where he talks with Thom Ernst, the host of "Saturday Night at the Movies". Norwegian film critic Thor willy Bakke writes, "Stellan Skarsgård has never participated in a Norwegian film without raising the number of notches. Here he plays an outwardly strong character who is weak, cowardly and pathetic - but with a thin, hard steel wire of morality and righteousness deep inside him. It is a complex and interesting character, and the tour of a refined talent that we do not have anything like in the whole Nordic region." I can't wait to see it!

04.05.12

According to Aftonbladet, Stellan's next project will be THE RAILWAY MAN, an Australian-UK production based on the experiences of former WW II prisoner Eric Lomax, who was captured by the Japanese and forced to work on Burma's Death Railway. Stellan's co-stars are very familiar to him - Nicole Kidman, who he met in Lars von Trier's "Dogville" and Colin Firth who sang with him in "Mamma Mia".  Colin will play the lead role of Lomax with Nicole as his wife, Patricia Wallace. Stellan will play a prisoner who is forced to build the railway between Bangkok and Rangoon. He says the film is based on a true story and it cuts between these people's past and back to when they were prisoners of war under the Japanese. It's about people who cannot get over the trauma they have gone through. Filming will begin in Scotland for a duration of  three weeks and then the production, directed by  Jonathan Teplitzky, will move on to Australia's Gold Coast. Stellan says he looks forward to having fun and refers to Nicole and Colin as "wonderful actors". When asked for his opinion about the possibility of "Dragon Tattoo" sequels, he replied positively though it's unclear whether David Fincher would direct. He said, "They've taken in more than $100 million in the US so if they can make money on the second and third film, they'll do them."

Benjamin Wright of Indiewire had an interesting article today on Alexander's career that I wanted to comment on. Wright noted that the "young offspring of the well-respected acting talent Stellan Skarsgård, hasn’t quite carved his niche out for himself just yet in the film world. Outside of women everywhere with HBO subscriptions who DVR every episode of horror soap “True Blood” to watch his ripped physique, his excellent spots in Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia,” the HBO mini-series “Generation Kill,” and even his performance in the unnecessary Rod Lurie remake of Sam Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs” have seemed to go unnoticed despite being praiseworthy." My thoughts exactly! Sometimes good looks can get in the way of an actor being taken seriously. Consider Alex's younger brother, Gustaf, who is possibly more talented, but he doesn't have the body and face that young girls fantasize about plus he doesn't suck blood! It's going to be an uphill battle for Gustaf to achieve the success of his older brother or father, especially if he resists Hollywood. According to Wright, Alexander may start to be noticed by the general public with his upcoming line-up of impressive films,  namely "Battleship" and "The East".  Variety is now reporting that he's about to hop aboard the Warner Bros. horror thriller, "Hidden". We'll also be able to check him out in "What Maisie Knew" with Julianne Moore, along with Alex Rubin's film, "Disconnect". I'm very curious to see whether Mr. Good Looking can transcend from TV vampire to big-screen box office star. By the way, the fifth season of "True Blood" will premiere on June 10th.

04.03.12

Last week the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) announced that Marvel's THE AVENGERS will close its 11th edition on Saturday, April 28. Honoring the spirit of the festival, the screening will celebrate everyday heroes from police agencies, fire departments, first responders and various branches of the U.S. military. These local heroes will have an opportunity to attend the screening and meet the cast. I'll take a guess that Stellan will not be attending.

An interview with Stellan was aired on a German radio show last week. The translation was disastrous but here is one tidbit. "I've probably made ​​one movie in the last 15 years in Sweden. The offers I get are not very attractive. I do not care where the offers come from. I've shot five or six films in Norway, and they were the best roles I've ever had. In Denmark I work with Lars von Trier. In Sweden, I don't think the "Wallander police TV series is very exciting. If I want to do police stuff, I would go to America and get paid ten times more."

Director Peter Berg and his "Battleship" cast are currently in Japan promoting the film. The press conference was held yesterday aboard the USS George Washington, an American nuclear-powered submarine stationed in Yokosuka. Today the premiere was held at the International Yoyogi first gymnasium in Tokyo. Alexander has learned from his famous father that becoming a Hollywood actor makes for interesting travel.

The 35-year-old also admits his celebrity status is not a problem when his privacy is regularly invaded by fans. Really? Alex explains, "It's great. People are so very friendly and nice to me. It really means so much to me and I am very flattered that they want me to sign autographs or take pictures with me. It means a lot to me that they watch the show (HBO's "True Blood") and go to the films so I really don’t mind it when they come up to me." How gracious!