MAY/JUNE 2012:

06.30.12

On June 22, the 19-minute documentary, "Our Need for Consolation" (aka Vårt behov av tröst) was shown at the Palm Springs Int'l ShortFest (see June 10th update). The short film, with an on-screen narration by Stellan, is based on a text by acclaimed Swedish author and journalist Stig Dagerman. In February 2010, producer Philip Hammarström was pleased to have Stellan on board - "He wants to do it because it's just Stig Dagerman involved. If everything goes without a hitch with the timing and schedule, he's set to do it." When the film premiered at the Gothenburg Int'l Film Festival in January this year, Swedish newspaper Gefle Dagblad stated, "It is a deeply poignant, focused little work of art about life and life's responsibilities and of man as human being. It has the potential to be a classic...The staging is conventional, but at the same time razor-sharp, especially Stellan Skarsgård's reading." The film was produced in both Swedish and English. Stellan appears in a white shirt, sitting on a chair reading the text while sequences in a slide show fade into each other. Personally, I found Stellan's voice far too gravelly and I can only assume that he was directed to speak in that tone. You can watch the trailer and decide for yourself at this link.

I've posted the ROMEO AND JULIET film page and will add to it as more information is available. When Stellan was asked about his role in the film, he responded, "Well I can’t tell you much as I only had a couple of days in it but the reason that I took it was I wanted to see if I, as a Swede, could master Shakespeare - I don’t think I managed (laughs). It’s not Shakespeare as it is some fakespeare as well since it is partly re-written by Julian Fellows. I think you will see an extremely beautiful film with a fantastic setting and clothes and you will see Hailee Steinfeld shine." Absolutely! Hailee will dazzle us with her talent as she did as Mattie Ross in "True Grit" two years ago. She's a born actress!

Here are some photos I just came across that were taken on April 12th when Stellan was staying at the Chateau Marmont in LA -

Very shortly filming will wrap up in Australia on THE RAILWAY MAN though Stellan's scenes were completed earlier this month. Producer/screenwriter Andy Paterson describes the film as "part emotional thriller, part war story and part love story". Here are several on-location photos of Stellan. You'll note a harbour welcome sign that adds a bit of humor to the scene - "Visitors to the harbour do so at their own risk. Please be safe." Obviously, it won't be visible in the final cut!

Son Alexander recently spoke to Aftonbladet about his busy schedule. For the past year, he has been working non-stop. In addition to the premiere of the 5th season of "Ture Blood", he is involved in four films - "What Maisie Knew", "The East", "Disconnect" and the upcoming "Hidden", which will be shot in Vancouver. First he hopes to get a little taste of the Swedish summer. He reports, "I'll be gong to my mother's summer house in the archipelago, meet up with friends and my siblings. I've got a brother who's three and when you're gone for eight months, it's a long time. Megan, Dad's wife, is pregnant, so there's another on the way. He's running hard, the old man."

In upcoming public appearances, Alexander will participate in the "True Blood" panel at the San Diego Comic-Con 2012 on Saturday, July 14th. Here are some photos from an HBO press conference last Sunday.

Between a webchat, sponsored by The Guardian, and interviews in conjunction with the opening of THE KING OF DEVIL'S ISLAND in the UK on Friday, Stellan has given us some new info about himself but generally, he offers the same pat answers, which ultimately protects his privacy. In this site's press section, you'll find scores of interviews over the past 30 years. If you haven't read them, you're in for a real treat! Many of them had to be purchased from Sweden and then translated by generous fans. I've extracted below some of the new and interesting tidbits that Stellan has shared in the past week.

On Hollywood remaking successful foreign films:
If they do it well, I don't mind it. It is unfortunately hard to get people in many countries to read subtitles. Probably a problem with their educational system. What is silly is if they take an arthouse film made by a wonderful auteur, strip the story of anything controversial and hand it to a generic director. Though I'd like to see the Hollywood remake of Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal."

On "Breaking the Waves":
"Breaking the Waves" is important to me not just because the material was beautiful. And Emily Watson and Katrin Cartlidge were wonderful. But it was also the first time I worked with Lars von Trier. And it was the first time I was free to do anything I wanted. I mean, anything, in every take. I got spoiled.

On von Trier's "Nymphomania":
We're planning to start shooting in late August. The only actors that I know are cast are me and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It will be two films: Nymphomania 1 and 2 and both in two versions, one soft for the faint of heart and a hardcore one for the rest of us.

Can you freeze hummus? (Love this question!)
I don't know. I think you should try it. There is of course a risk that the emulsion between the sesame seed paste and the lemon juice will separate. But you could solve that with a little slop of tehina in a bowl and gradually whip in the separated hummus. You have to take food seriously.

On his children's favorite role:
If they have a favorite role of mine, I think it's probably Randbaek in "Zero Kelvin". [It ranks high among Stellan's favorites and mine as well]

Do movies make him cry?:
I rarely blubber at the cinema, especially not when I'm on screen myself. I wince. But a film where the end actually makes me blubber - or maybe a less strong word - is the end of Chaplin's "City Lights".

Does he have a favorite soccer team?
If I have any team, it's Hammarby and I did appreciate seeing the French lose to a team that hasn't shown much talent in a while.

On retirement:
Well, sooner or later they will force me, but it's nothing I'm looking forward to. And I'm not sure I'm the most successful man in the world but I'm probably one of the luckiest.

The following video features Stellan talking with Oliver Hayes about the making of "The King of Devil's Island". In several previous interviews, Stellan has also stressed the fact that these young boys were actually petty criminals before being cast and this whole experience seemed to have a profound effect on both them as well as the professional cast and crew. It's hard to imagine this happening in Hollywood. I don't believe it would even be a possibility. But hats off to the Nords who are willing to take a risk and create an inspiring story both on screen and off screen. Many of these boys have been able to turn their life around. Click on this photo for the interview from Fancarpet.com.

A more fascinating video interview has Stellan, not only discussing his work with director Marius Holst, but also giving an expansive dialogue on working with two other Scandinavian directors - Lars von Trier and Ingmar Bergman. In April Stellan spoke with The Guardian about his disdain for Sweden's most famous director and again, he reiterates his opinion to the newspaper. He doesn't believe Bergman was a nice person but salutes him as a great artist and director. Stellan describes him as a control freak, wanting command over people's lives as well as Sweden's film industry. He was powerful enough to crush and destroy people's lives. Plus there was fear in his presence creating an unsettling environment for those who worked with him. In the end, Stellan kept his distance. He says, "I didn't want him near my life." So what's your favorite Bergman film? For me, it's a toss-up between "Cries and Whispers" and "Scenes from a Marriage" but then again, I'm always partial to films with the beautiful Liv Ullmann. Therefore, I highly recommend a little film called THE OX in which Stellan stars with the Norwegian actress. It's a gem! Click on the photo below for the interview from The Guardian.

06.13.12

Today is the 8th anniversary of the creation of STELLAN ONLINE.  Building a comprehensive and informative celebrity web site is not always easy and goes much further than just cutting and pasting news and images from other web sites. It demands historical content as well as commentary and reflection. I thank Stellan fans throughout the world who have appreciated that intent and my efforts and supported me through the years volunteering to do translations and passing along wonderful old photos and stories.

Today also marks Stellan's 61st birthday. Grattis på födelsedagen!

06.10.12

Among the 323 shorts selected for the upcoming Palm Springs International ShortFest (June 19-25) is a 19-minute documentary called "OUR NEED FOR CONSOLATION" (Vårt behov av tröst) featuring Stellan. Recorded in both English and Swedish, Stellan gives an on-screen performance reading excerpts from "Our Need for Consolation is Insatiable" by Stig Dagerman. The film, which premiered at the Gothenburg International Film Festival in January, uses dramatization and documentary imagery to give insight into Dagerman's widely known autobiographical essay in which he describes his desperate struggle with writer's block and thoughts of suicide and where he charts out a route toward transcendence and freedom. The brief text, written in September 1951, has captivated readers in Sweden and abroad, where it has been translated and published in pocket-sized editions. It continues to inspire artists in theater, film, music, the visual arts and dance.

Our "True Blood" star has become the face of Encounter, the new fragrance for men from Calvin Klein. Shot by photographer Steven Klein, the campaign has a mysterious allure, thanks to its deep blue hues that add that "film noir" appeal to an intimate moment between Alexander and model Lara Stone. A spokesperson for the campaign said, "Alexander perfectly reflects the Encounter Calvin Klein attitude - modern, stylish and unapologetically masculine." The new fragrance will hit shelves in September.

And with Father's Day coming up this Sunday, here's a quote from Alexander honoring his famous father - "Dad is one of my best friends. He is such a good guy and I love him so much. So many kids complain or have problems with their father, but I have been very lucky to have had a father who is very cool, very supportive, and just someone I have admired all my life and [it] felt so good to grow up and always know that he cared about me even though he works a lot. My dad always made it a point to be very present in our family."

5.21.12

More film projects for Stellan! It looks like a busy year for our Swede. He's been cast in the medieval period drama, THE PHYSICIAN, based on the best-selling novel by Noah Gordon about a healer traveling across Europe in the 11the century. Tom Payne will star as the physician Rob Cole, who searches for the scientific truth of illness and healing in a medieval world dominated by religion and superstition. Ben Kingsley will star as Ibn Sina, the so-called doctor of all doctors. Stellan will play Barber, Rob Cole's first mentor, who not only teaches the boy some simple medicines, but also shows him how to draw a crowd with juggling, storytelling and drawing characters. It seems a warm character for which Stellan should be a great fit. French actor Olivier Martinez has also signed up to play the Shah Ala ad-Daula. German director Philipp Stoelzl will direct with Jan Berger's screenplay. Filming will take place in Morocco and Germany beginning next month.

Stellan has also joined Nastassja Kinski for Balint Kenyeres' debut feature, HIER. Filming on the $3.2 million existential thriller is due to commence in Morocco and Hungary in the fall. It will be co-produced by Films de L'Apres-midi, Hungary's Cameo Film and Sweden's Bob Film.

Here's the first photo of Stellan as the Prince of Verona in the recently-filmed ROMEO AND JULIET. Scriptwriter Julian Fellowes, of "Downton Abbey" and "Gosford Park" fame, explains that it’s a long time since a romantic, traditional rendition has graced the screen. “People have made 'Romeo and Juliet' – and some very good ones – but they were set in modern Ohio, or whatever. This isn’t that. This is the romantic medieval love story as conceived by Shakespeare. We felt that what we needed was just to make it slightly more accessible to today’s generation.” There is much to look forward to when the film is released in 2013, in particular Oscar-winning designer Milena Canonero’s costumes. "Romeo and Juliet" promises to be a feast for the eyes, as well as food for the soul.

5.06.12

THE AVENGERS, riding stellar reviews and a tsunami of Twitter love, piled up $200.3 million at theaters in the U.S. and Canada, according to an estimate from Disney. That total, which beat the $169.2-million record set during the opening weekend of 2011's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," was turbocharged by pricier IMAX and 3-D tickets. About 52% of those who saw the movie opted to shell out a few extra bucks to watch it in 3-D. IMAX theaters even ran out of seats to sell to moviegoers. The North American box office total added to an already unfolding global success story; playing in 52 international markets, the movie collected $151.5 million this weekend, raising its tally abroad to $441.5 million. That means that after just two weeks in release, "The Avengers" already has sold $641.8-million worth of tickets, jumping past "The Hunger Games" on the ranking of top-grossing 2012 releases worldwide.

As if the news weren't already positive enough for Marvel and parent company Disney, moviegoers loved the film, assigning it a perfect average grade of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That score indicates that the movie will generate excellent word of mouth in the weeks to come, helping to propel the movie into the billion-dollar club at the worldwide box office - an elite group comprising just 11 films, led by James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Titanic." It also reached a rating of 93% on the Tomatometer after 239 reviews.

THOR 2 is set for release on November 15 next year and will see the return of Stellan as Prof. Erik Selvig as well as Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Stellan says, "They hope to start shooting in the fall. They have me on contract so... And I'd love to work with those guys again. I'm having fun in the Marvel films." He admitted that he had a good experience working with 'Thor' helmer Kenneth Branagh - "He's an actor so he understands completely what you need and what your fears are. He loves actors and I had a lot of fun working with him. I'd definitely work with him again." For THOR 2, Stellan will be working with director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones). Asked about his role in "The Avengers", he says, "It's the same character as in the first THOR film, although something happens in "The Avengers" which changes him and which gave me the pleasure of playing something different."

After THE KING OF DEVIL'S ISLAND opened in Australia, an interview with Stellan appeared in The Age, in which Stellan gives his pronounciation of his last name. He says, ''In Sweden it's 'Skars-gord', but usually people say 'Skars-guard'. Anything is fine." In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he admits the transition between his life in Stockholm and the red carpet in LA is not quite as seamless as it appears. He discusses working as an international actor - "You have to adapt to different corporate cultures. That took me some time to get used to. The first time I did a big American film, I was surprised by all the different financiers who came to the set and told the director what to do. In Europe, the director is the king - it's his vision. When suddenly you see directors reduced to just mechanics, well, I found that upsetting to begin with. Unfortunately, they try to make artistic decisions and it's not the same job, really, to be a filmmaker and a banker. But of course I go back and forth between those big Hollywood productions and small independent films like 'The King Of Devil's Island', which I helped finance myself, because when the budget is lower, the freedom of the director is bigger." Stellan also believes climate is one of the major reasons why Scandinavian cinema is so often bleak. He explains, "Maybe lack of light in the winter, and isolation. I don't feel very gloomy myself; I'm really a pretty cheerful person. But at the same time, I take the dark side of life seriously, too."

Scotland's Queensferry Gazette has reported that filming for THE RAILWAY MAN has been taking place this past week at Kinneil Railway and Bo'ness, a coastal town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. It was noted that Stellan, Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth were all there with fans eager to get photos. The film could be hitting the silver screens in late 2013, and should cast and crew opt to unveil the finished work at the town’s Hippodrome cinema, they are assured of a warm welcome.

Two upcoming film festivals this month will feature Bill Skarsgård's film, "Simon and the Oaks", which captured 13 Swedish Oscar nominations. The epic drama will be screened on May 19th at the Seattle International Film Festival and on May 13th at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. Bill takes on the lead role as Simon Larsson, who learns that he's an adopted child who has a Jewish father from Germany. After WW II, Simon travels to explore his roots - a journey that leads to the basic mysteries of human life. The screenplay is based on the bestselling novel by Marianne Frederiksson. The photos below show Bill at the November 30th premiere of the film.