NEWS: MAY 2020
month I added the HAMLET page under
Swedish television productions. Since then I have come across some
publicity photos of Stellan as Hamlet that were taken in March of 1984.
You can see a strong resemblance to his oldest son Alex in the first photo.
cinephiles may remember the 1981 Louis Malle cult movie "My Dinner
with André", an American comedy
drama. It's always been one of my favorite indie films. The screenplay
was written by theater director André
Gregory and playwright/actor Wallace Shawn, who play fictionalized
versions of themselves sharing a conversation at Café des Artistes in
Manhattan. The film's dialogue covers topics such as experimental
theatre, the nature of theatre, and the nature of life, and contrasts
Wally's modest humanism with Andre's spiritual experiences. As one
reviewer put it, "It's quintessential arthouse filmmaking, a dash
experimental, and a dash intellectual." On June 19, 1991, a
Swedish radio version was broadcast with Stellan and Börje Ahlstedt. I'm
assuming Stellan plays the Wally role since he's on the left side but I
have no verification of this.
thought this was an especially good painting of Stellan -
recently posted the "Bombi Bitt och jag"
TV page but then I discovered this photo of 15-year-old Stellan with his
mother taken on April 27, 1967. The photo was used in the news media to
announce the new TV series, which was about to start filming the
following month. Stellan was one of 29 finalists. The man in the photo
is unidentified. Maybe his father?
anybody remember Renny Harlin, who helmed the successful action
hits - "Die Hard 2" and "Cliffhanger"? Thirty years ago he was slated to
be the "next big thing" but a few box office failures torpedoed his
career and tarnished his reputation as Hollywood's next wunderkind.
Stellan worked with the Finnish director twice. The 1999 sci-fi action
thriller "Deep Blue Sea" received mixed reviews but managed a 60% rating
at Rotten Tomatoes but in 2004 "Exorcist: The Beginning" fared worse
with only a 10% rating. With his career on a continual downward spiral,
Harlin eventually moved to China in 2014 where he presently directs
Today I've added the
DEEP BLUE SEA film page. I dislike
the film intensely. It's about a team of scientists working in a
sea-based research station who experiment with enhancing the brains of
sharks in an attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. These
sci-fi movies continually use the same team make-up. Bring in a
beautiful, gutsy, and preferably sexy female for the team's leader and
then make sure you include an African-American, this time rapper L.L.
Cool J. Sun Sentinel's Todd Anthony asked, "Can the adrenaline rush of
bloody, vividly staged shark attacks offset an idiotic, derivative plot?
Hey, can a rapper make it as an action star?" Opening in July 1999 the
filmmakers anticipated it would be the summer blockbuster hit.
Certainly, it reflects major ambition on the part of Warner Bros. to
cash in on the popularity of "Jaws," still a source of Hollywood
inspiration 25 years later.
August 1998 Stellan headed to Fox Studios Baja in Rosarito,
Mexico. When asked about his role as researcher Dr. Jim Whitlock, he
joked, "I’ve always been interested in food, so it's
fabulous to be able to play it for once. [food for
fun to be working with Renny. He’ll throw a
line at me in Swedish every now and then, which is hysterical, because
he has this terrible Finnish accent. He told me that there would be real
sharks in the movie, which there are, but the sharks they created are
incredible and they’re better paid than I am…I should have been a shark.
But it's great to be in
such a big show; it attracted the boy in me." He
did admit that he was "incredibly well paid for so little work".
Stellan is gone before the film's
halfway mark. His last horrific scene is described by film critic Tim
Brayton - "'Deep Blue Sea' feels like it's constantly daring us to take
it seriously, relentlessly increasing the monumental stupidity of the
characters and the absurd convolutions of the sharks' behavior. So it's
not too much that the sharks will pull a man being airlifted out by a
medevac helicopter to drag the copter into the water. What about if they
then throw that same man into a huge glass wall to break it and flood
the research center control room? And what if he's still, somehow, not
dead when this happens? That is the kind of over-the-top, sugar-addled
enthusiasm with which 'Deep Blue Sea' piles on incidents."
I was somewhat flabbergasted when the esteemed
film critic Roger Ebert wrote, "The movie is a skillful thriller
directed by Renny Harlin, who made 'Die Hard 2' and 'Cutthroat Island,'
and here assembles a neat package of terror, sharks and special effects.
That isn't as easy as it sounds. After slogging through the
predictability of countless would-be action thrillers, I admired the
sheer professionalism of this one, which doesn't transcend its genre,
but at least honors it."
photo has Stellan in an unusual pose and in unusual clothing. I have no
info or dates on it but I do know it was taken by Norwegian-French
photographer Charlotte Sverdrup. I would guess it was taken on location
for one of Hans Petter Moland's films since Ms. Sverdrup is based in
there's one thing I can't stand is misinformation. I found this photo on
Instagram with a bunch of hashtags regarding "Chernobyl". Correction -
It was taken on location while filming "The Painted Bird.". Because the
photo is in color rather than in black and white, it probably caused the
confusion. Nice pic, eh?
is one of the best sketches I've come across - not signed so I can't
- A photo from Norwegian's Dagbladet newspaper dated February 17, 2015.
It comes with a short article about "Cinderella".
Stellan was too busy filming the BBC "River" series in London that he
wasn't available when it came time to dub the Swedish version. I'm sure
Stellan fans in his homeland were disappointed that it wasn't his voice.
Bengt Järnblad, who had previously dubbed films such as "Toy
Story 3" and "Happy Feet", was given the task of dubbing Stellan, who
said he was quite impressed with Bengt. On a personal note, I remember
when Pedro Almodovar's 1993 film "Kika" was released starring Peter
Coyote, who had originally spoken his Spanish lines but ultimately, he
was dubbed and it was a weird experience watching him without that rich voice
Besides "Cinderella", Stellan
co-starred with Lily James in the "Mamma Mia" sequel and these two
photos were taken on July 16, 2018 at the film's London premiere. You have to wonder what Stellan is
interesting collage that I discovered though I don't know what
happened to the rest of it. It
certainly wouldn't have been my choice of photos.
It was in 1933 when Waldemar
Hammenhög's novel PETTERSSON & BENDEL (1931) was first adapted
for the big screen. It was directed by Per-Axel Branner and Swedish
audiences reacted to it as an entertaining story of two chums responding
to bad times in their own ways. Because of its anti-Semitism, the film
played throughout Germany to popular acclaim because Bendel was viewed
as one of the strongest negative portraits of a Jew outside Third Reich
cinema. A sequel was made in 1945 but it was a box-office flop in
Sweden. Finally in 1983, Hans Alfredson directed another version titled
P&B, described as a fable loosely based on the novel and not a
remake of the original 1933 film. Though it updates the action to the
1980s, in some ways it is closer in spirit to Hammenhög's narrative than
was the 1933 film in that both protagonists are psychologically nuanced
and neither is portrayed as either a paragon of virtue or a
Alfredson's Bendel is not Jewish
at all but rather an immigrant from Yugoslavia. However, like the Bendel
of the novel and 1933 film, he is set apart by his appearance. Actor
Allan Edwall wears a wig, false eyebrows and dark contact lenses to
assume the look of a "svartskalle" (blackskull), the contemporary
derogatory term for immigrant. Stellan plays the tall, good-looking
Pettersson and the charming pair engage in all kinds of swindlery and
con-artistry. One of the film critics noted that one of the difficulties
with this film is that it swings from restrained comic interludes to
tragic events, and back while hewing to a predictable plot.
You may recall that Stellan's
breakthrough in film came just the year before with P&B's director Alfredson's
Den enfaldige mordaren
(The Simple-Minded Murderer). Stellan's performance was instantly
recognized both domestically and internationally and earned him a Silver
Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. The first three photos are from Denmark's Kosmorama web site
regarding the film. I thought the last photo was a rather interesting
this time of Stellan's recognition in the cinema world, this photo was
taken of Stellan with Gustaf, who was probably
almost two years old.
many of you know, young Stellan was a teenage idol, thanks to his
lead role in
BOMBI BITT OCH JAG, a highly
popular Swedish mini-TV series. It
was filmed in black and white in the province of Skåne from May
to August 1967 and was based on the popular stories of Fritiof
Nilsson Piraten, who also narrated the series. The stories were
published in 1932 and quickly became very popular. They were inspired by
Mark Twain and Bombi Bitt is definitely a Swedish Huckleberry Finn. The
series began airing on January 27, 1968 and was originally televised in four
episodes. In 1936 the first feature film about Bombi Bitt premiered.
Whereas Stellan was 16 playing a 14-year-old, in the 1936 film,
it's interesting that Bombi Bitt was actually played by 27-year-old Sture
Stellan paper dolls!
Issued in conjunction with the
Bombi Bitt is described as a free spirit, who more or
less follows his own rules, and also know the rules of the game when it
matters. His pal Eli lives a relatively orderly life with his parents
while Bombi Bitt takes care of himself. He does have a mother, but she
is not interested in him and he doesn't know his father. Eli is
forbidden to hang out with this rascal so all their antics and
adventures must be done in secret. In the photos below, Bombi Bitt
sports a pipe but does he actually smoke it?
The next photo comes from a
13-year-old fan who had the opportunity to get Stellan's autograph
when a book signing was held in Malmö in 1968.
Check out the new TV page for more
information and a link to one of Stellan's first interviews for Bild
magazine in which he explains how he managed to get this role. It was
said that Stellan only had to
put on the scarecrow hat, let his hair grow a bit, and paint on a
swarm of freckles - and he was Bombi Bitt. He already had the
You can view the four episodes at
film page added! Though
Stellan's role in MY SON THE FANATIC
went rather unnoticed and didn't earn him any particular attention, the
film was quite successful. It was screened in the Directors Fortnight at
the 1997 Cannes Film Festival and the London Film Festival and was
distributed in the United States by leading independent film company
Miramax. It opened in two movie houses in New York and two in Los
Angeles in 1999 before expanding its run to more than 20 cities around
the country. Written by Hanif Kureishi, whose witty screenplay for "My
Beautiful Launderette" was nominated for an Oscar in 1987 and directed
by Udayan Prasad, the film also received three nominations by the
British Independent Film Awards in 1998 and a Best Foreign Film
nomination by the Independent Spirit Awards the following year.
This collaborative comedy by
Kureishi and Prasad is an unconventional love story about a Pakistani
taxi driver and a prostitute. Set in the north of England, the backdrop
to the story is the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the growing
tensions within a community that borders on the city's red light
district at one end and the mosque at the other. Veteran Indian actor Om
Puri plays taxi driver Parvez, American actress Rachel Griffiths
("Hilary and Jackie") plays the local prostitute Bettina, and British-Indian
actor Akbar Kurtha is Puri's son, whose embrace of Islam creates mayhem
in the family. Our Swede portrays a hedonistic German businessman
named Schitz who comes to the UK for the acquisition
of a piece of deserted land in order to build a shopping center on it.
He hires Parvez as his driver to take him around town. He embodies the
world of capitalism, has a taste for cocaine and call girls, drinks heavily,
and at one point tries to organize an orgy to impress some local
business colleagues. Now you know why he's called Schitz!
The film won praise for its study
of displaced immigrants, racial issues and appeal of fundamentalism for
the young. In New York, the four major dailies gave the film
enthusiastic thumbs up. The Daily News and New York Post
each gave the film three stars out of four; Newsday gave
three-and-a-half stars. And USA Today, offering another solid
review, gave it three stars. Om Puri's performance was singled out by
every reviewer, with Daily News asserting, "This is a wrenching,
absolutely honest performance, the best we may see on an American screen
this year." And Janet Maslin of the NY Times wrote, "At its
center is a fine, irascible performance by Om Puri, the prominent Indian
actor who is on his way to being much more visible to international
in 2011, Stellan was asked if he needed to find something relatable or
likable in the characters he plays. He replied, "Yes, but not
likable, necessarily, but recognizable. I want them to be complex in the
sense that everything that is on the surface is not all there is. There
always has to be contradictions within them. There has to be a certain
amount of irrationality to make them humans, but I'd like the audience
to understand them as human beings. It's like that wonderful film,
Der Untergang (Downfall) with Bruno Ganz when he played
Hitler in the bunker. Some people got upset
that he was portrayed as a human being. I think it's a moral obligation
to portray him as a human being because if you don't look at those
people who massacre people as humans, then we're not aware of what we
have inside ourselves and then we can't protect ourselves against it."
journalist Tomasz-Marcin Wrona of TVN24 spoke with Stellan
recently after HOPE's premiere in Poland was canceled due to the
pandemic. In the film Stellan plays a husband whose wife has been told
she has terminal cancer. This role was perfect for him because he had
his own personal experience. He tells TVN24, "My ex-wife had a cancer
diagnosis. In these situations, your first reaction is that you don't
know what you can do. And nothing can be done! You can do all the
practical tasks: prepare food for the children, clean the apartment,
etc. but there is no way to really be able to share the experience of
a person with cancer, or a person who has heard that
there is no rescue for her. You feel helpless and lost." (Polish
Stellan was also asked how he
looked at the world during this pandemic. He responded, "This
is an extraordinary and extreme situation. Weaknesses of our societies
have surfaced. We spent decades refinancing risky operations and society
remained underfunded. Of course, when this situation ends, there will be
profound political changes."
And how has the coronavirus
affected him? He replies, "Projects in which I was involved have been
suspended. All my sons who are actors have also lost their jobs,
although it has its pleasant consequences because we are all together.
We spend this time together. Sure, we're in a privileged position. There
are billions of people who do not have access to proper medical care."
What does Stellan think of the theory that the pandemic is a divine
punishment? He laughs and says, "It's
really fucking stupid. But quite seriously, such statements are very
dangerous. And not just because of the stupidity of people who preach
such opinions. They are dangerous because shared in this way they draw
attention away from scientific information
toward metaphysical fantasies. This means that instead of focusing on
fighting it, there will always be those who blame others for this
premieres for sons Bill and Gustaf: The first three photos were taken at the "It: Chapter Two"
premiere in Stockholm on September 5th. Stellan poses with his son
Ossian and ex-wife My. The child in the mauve sweatshirt is not
identified. Son Valter was
also in attendance and Bill is shown with Anita Morberg, mother of his
18-month old daughter. The last photo shows Valter with his mother and
his girlfriend Jade Classon at the premiere of "438 Days" at the
Rigoletto Cinema in Stockholm on August 26th.
Herbert's epic sci-fi DUNE is slated for a December 18th
release. However, with the Covid-19 crisis at hand, one can only guess
whether its opening will be pushed forward to sometime in 2021. A
handful of the cast members are recognizable - Timothée
Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardeem, Oscar Isaac and Charlotte
Rampling. There have been many conversations regarding Stellan's role as
Baron Harkonnen, an extravagant character of Machiavellian means.
Director Denis Villeneuve commented recently in a Vanity Fair
interview that he selected a different approach to this legendary
villain. He said, "As much as I deeply love the book, I felt that
the baron was flirting very often with caricature. And I tried to bring
him a bit more dimension. That’s why I brought in Stellan. Stellan has
something in the eyes. You feel that there’s someone thinking, thinking,
thinking - that has tension and is calculating inside, deep in the eyes.
I can testify, it can be quite frightening."
portrayals have ranged from Ian McNiece’s mildly theatric schemer in the
Sci-Fi Channel’s "Dune" miniseries to Kenneth McMillan’s over-the-top
portrayal in David Lynch’s 1984 theatrical version. As photos have
slowly appeared online, new looks for "Dune" characters have
emerged but so far the Baron has not been seen. Noting Villeneuve's
comments that the Baron's description will lean harder on Stellan's
handsome and imposing features rather than letting the character be a
massive figure of ugly lechery, we will eagerly await that first look.
In the meantime, here are a few shots from the film as well as some
interesting "fan art" posters.
Stellan Skarsgård is already playing
the villain in one space opera — why not add another? Variety
broke the news that Stellan and Kyle Soller are set to star opposite
Diego Luna in the Disney+ Cassian Andor TV series. Both are in
final negotiations for their roles in the yet-untitled "Star Wars"
spin-off series. There’s no information yet on who either of them are
playing. But considering Skarsgård’s
penchant for playing cold, intimidating villains, and the Star Wars
franchise’s tendency to cast accented European character actors as
villains, it’s likely that the Swedish actor will play an agent of the
Empire. The series takes place before the events of "Rogue One" in the
early days of the Rebellion against the Empire. The Cassian Andor series
was originally supposed to start shooting but it’s unclear if the
industry-wide shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic will alter plans.
Skarsgård acting family appeared in the
December 2019/January 2020 issue of Scandinavian Traveler.
film I'LL FIND YOU, originally
titled "Music, War and Love" underwent a long troublesome production
time, which included a two-year lawsuit for director Martha Coolidge.
Filming begin in the fall of 2015 and editing began in the summer of
2016. However, due to financial problems, post-production ceased in
November and did not begin again until March 2018. The film was finally
ready in February 2019 and last summer it was chosen as the closing film
at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily in July. That same month
it also opened the Transatlantic Film Festival in Lodz, Poland, where it
was primarily shot. I cannot locate any reviews though it was screened
at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in February and was the
opening film at the Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival in early March. I
don't believe there's a theatrical future for this film but perhaps it
will show up someday at one of the streaming web sites, such as Netflix.
Stellan has a unique role this time as an opera singer. Yes, he was
dubbed! Here's the latest poster, two new movie stills and a production