It's that time of year and I'm off to the coast of Maine for three weeks, so the next update will be in early August. I'll be offline, but you can send along any news that comes your way and I'll read it when I get back. Thanks.


button_box.gif (205 bytes)One of Stellan's upcoming film projects is DOWNLOADING NANCY - also starring Holly Hunter and William Hurt. This will mark the first reunion of Hurt and Hunter since Broadcast News. Commercial and music helmer Johan Renck is making his directorial debut with production scheduled in Germany, followed by the UK. The plot revolves around Nancy, an unhappy wife (Hunter), who cannot bring herself to commit suicide. So she gets creative and meets a man named Albert (Stellan) over the Internet and then hires him to kill her. However, problems arise when the two form a relationship. Hurt will play Nancy's husband, Louis.

livullmann1.jpg (15458 bytes)Another indie on the horizon is a film adaptation of A DOLL'S HOUSE, directed by Liv Ullmann, who has played the lead role of Nora three times - once in her Broadway debut opposite Sam Waterston in 1975, once at the National Theatre in Oslo, Norway, and once on tour in her homeland. The 64-year-old Norwegian actress-turned filmmaker plans to start filming in January 2005. Originally Cate Blanchett was to play the role of Nora, but due to her pregnancy and unwillingness to commit to the role, Kate Winslet has now been cast as Nora. John Cusack will play Nora's husband, Thorvald, and Stellan will play Doctor Rank. The classic play about the dissection of a marriage, written by countryman Henrik Ibsen, will be shot in Norway. Legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's longtime production designer, Anna Asp, and Stuart Dryburgh, cinematographer of The Piano, will also join the team.

On the KING ARTHUR scene, Filmcritic.com praises Stellan with, "The yang to Arthur’s vigorous defense of liberty is the genocidal Saxon conqueror Cerdic, played with quiet menace by Stellan Skarsgård. Skarsgård dominates all his scenes with soft-spoken psychopathic fervor and boundless villainy." The Hollywood Reporter gives it high marks with, "In most epics, we barely meet characters before they are off and running. Here, carefully written dialogue scenes (a few a tad pedantic), all wonderfully played by the excellent cast, establish characters and situations before battles rage... The villains are terrific. Skarsgård's bearded Saxon leader, looking like a foul priest, is cruel and sadistic but with high intelligence and a zeal to encounter the great Arthur."

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button_box.gif (205 bytes)With the trend to cast international celebrities with Hollywood staking more of its success on selling films abroad, it gives stars like Stellan more opportunity. Disney Studios chairman, Richard Cook, says that given the price tag for KING ARTHUR of nearly $120 million, "having stars who are popular outside of the United States was more important than ever. If we thought it would only reach a domestic audience, we wouldn't have made it." Cast members hail from England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, Australia, Denmark Sweden and Italy.


A handful of reviews have come in on KING ARTHUR. Not much praise at this point, though film critic Harvey Karten claims, "the best thing about this picture is the chief villain, the Saxon Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård) known to Arthur as simply 'Saxon,' a chap fond of saying 'kill them all and burn the village.'" And I read somewhere today that we have a "toothless Cerdic". [Tell me that's not true] LA Daily News relates how "Skarsgård is tremendous fun as a ruthless warrior!" Yes! The NY Times claims that "the Saxons in this movie all look like Hell's Angels." Stellan as a biker? I'm loving it. Anyway, it looks like you can have more fun with the character playing the KING ARTHUR video game scheduled to be releasedkarthurbk1a.jpg (16644 bytes) this fall. Konami Digital Entertainment will publish the game and will utilize footage from the movie as well as feature likenesses of the film's characters. The official movie tie-in book has also been published and is now available at Amazon.com. The front cover describes it as a novel by Frank Thompson based on the screenplay by David Franzoni. By the way, comments from The NY Times review in Sunday's paper were far from glowing. In its favor, Mr. McGrath did concede that "KING ARTHUR has the best battle scenes, the best hand-to-hand combat, of any movie so far this summer - far better than the stagy, self-important TROY."