button_box.gif (205 bytes)Four-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh may not have big action movie credentials, but as the director of THOR, Branagh's looking to prove to comic book fans - and moviegoers in general - that he can handle bringing Marvel's comic-based hero to life on the screen. And part of the process of selling his vision to fans was bringing his cast and clips to San Diego for the 2010 Comic Con on July 24th. Joining him was Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings on stage for a Q&A session at the biggest gathering of comic book fans on the planet. It was recently announced that the film will be screened in 3D. Look for a May 6, 2011 premiere date. At this time, only a handful of images have been released and, unfortunately, none with Stellan.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)In previous postings, I have briefly and humorously indicated Stellan's negative encounter with Norwegian lunch culture, but I wanted to add this article that appeared in Norway's newspaper, Dagbladet, back in February. When Stellan filmed Moland's "Insomnia" in 1997, apparently, he was hungry all the time. He relates how he lost eight kilograms eating just bread and toppings while most Swedes are accustomed to having a hot meal at noon. When he was hired on for the lead role in  "En ganske still mann", he refused to sign on the dotted line until he was assured that he could get a good lunch with the highest European quality. Producer Finn Gjerdrum confirms this is accurate and good food was indeed included in Stellan's contract. The actor was willing to reduce his salary in order that the producers could achieve this catering challenge.

Gjerdrum did not regard Stellan's requirements as snobbish. "When you work as much as Skarsgård does and are on film sets that many days a year, it is clear that it's important you get good food. It applies to the entire staff. A good meal is important for motivation. So what was Stellan served? According to chef Per Olof Nummedal who delivered the food to the set, it was solid food, always made from scratch. He said, "I served a lot of salmon, but also included roast lamb with potatoes. What impressed me about Skarsgård was that he was not only concerned about getting good food, but that he also wanted the staff to eat properly. He was a very nice man."


button_box.gif (205 bytes)It has come to my attention that I missed an important event this past spring when Stellan attended the 4th Annual Jewish Film Festival on May 25th in Zagreb, Croatia. He was there to present his 1990 movie, "Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg". I've posted a photo collection from that day including a morning appearance at the Academy of Dramatic Art where he was invited to speak to students. One particular photo will catch your attention - the one below showing Stellan standing next to his wife Megan with their son Ossian, at what looks to be a reception. The photo on the right is a precious discovery revealing a much younger Stellan holding his eldest son, Alexander.

According to a summation by one of the Academy's students, Stellan shared some of the following comments. His favorite theatre memory was an experimental play based on Strindberg's letters. Apparently, most of the audience left after five minutes and only a few remained to see him strip bare naked at the end. (Yes, his tendency to peel away his clothes began way back then...)  And typically, our Swede peppered his language with "fuck" and "fucked up". I love this man!

He praised POTC director George Verbinski describing him as a great man to work with. However, producers of the film did try to have him fired three times and they even considered firing Johnny Depp for his gay pirate portrayal. Depp admitted that he infuses a bit of homosexuality in all his roles. Interesting... Such a talented guy!

Stellan also told a story from twenty years ago when he was filming "Wallenberg". During production, an older Jewish lady who lived in the area and had known Wallenberg asked him if he wanted coffee. He politely answered "yes" and she then walked away. Two hours later, she returned with a cup of coffee that she had  made at her home. Stellan admitted it was half-filled with vodka since it was too damn cold!

Since his next project was working with Lars Von Trier, Stellan spoke about his friendship with the Danish director. He described him as highly sensitive and related the story of how they first met when Stellan came to audition for "Breaking the Waves". Lars told him to keep his distance because he didn't want physical contact with an outsider. Stellan then hugged him until the director relaxed.

Speaking of directors, he pointed out how a director has so much more control if it's an independent film. He also commented on working with THOR's Kenneth Branagh describing him as fantastic and the most entertaining director he's ever worked with. He also appreciated Branagh's ability to add depth to a supposedly cookie-cutter story. Because of his contract, there was limited discussion on his role other than the fact that he plays a scientist named Selvig who works with Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, and the two of them discover Thor when he falls from the sky.


Among the many films to be screened this month at the Melbourne International Film Festival is A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN (aka En ganske snill mann).  Andrew Moraitis of Film Ink previewed the film and I share his positive comments here:

An imaginative and unexpectedly sprightly comedy from Norwegian filmmaker Hans Petter Moland (Zero Kelvin, Aberdeen), "A Somewhat Gentle Man" is a beautifully observed human comedy about redemption and revenge. A terrific star vehicle for its very game star, the Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård plays Ulrich, a slow, but well-meaning ex-con trying to return to normalcy on the outside. The film has an understated, Wes Anderson-style wit and fresh visual invention, benefiting greatly from a sly, inventive screenplay from Prague's Fupz Aakeson. All the actors are fine, but Skarsgård, in particular, gives a surprisingly warm, expertly comic performance as the frayed Ulrich. Beautifully photographed and sharply edited, "A Somewhat Gentle Man" is the most unexpectedly bright, wistfully unpredictable comedy since Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant.".

Nordisk Trust reports that the film has been sold to over 20 countries in Europe, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. The producers are very pleased that the film was met with laughter and a standing ovation from the press and public at the Berlin Film Festival, which has obviously had a positive impact on interest internationally. Producer Finn Gjerdrum is happy - "We seem to have a film that reaches a wide audience beyond the borders of Norway."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Here's a fan photo showing Stellan and Alexander in Stockholm this month. It's rare that you come across photos of the two of them. While shooting "Thor", Alexander and girlfriend Kate Bosworth visited him in New Mexico. Stellan had previously met with Ms. Bosworth on several occasions and has described her as "nice".  He confirms that the relationship is serious. When Extra met up with Stellan, he had just returned from the Sante Fe desert. He described the shoot as "Cold as hell, but fun," and added, "Kenneth Branagh is incredibly funny. You laugh as you cry during the shoot. And Natalie Portman is so incredibly good. And smart. Too bad she is a vegan!"

As far as reuniting with family,  Stellan makes sure he sees his children as frequently as possible even though they are often spread out. These days he goes on location with his wife Megan and 14-month-old son, Ossian, as much as possible. When asked if his older children sometimes seek out his advice, he responded, "No, none of them have done so. There is not much to tell them. Alexander has lived and worked in LA a long time now. I just go there to work." Though Stellan continues to work around the world and often in LA, he always returns to Södermalm and he is adamant about remaining there. He says he would never be willing to live in the US, one reason being that "everything is so career-oriented and social intercourse is all about business."