JULY 2012:

07.10.12

More location photos can be found on THE PHYSICIAN film page. I assume a special day was set aside for the press to meet with the cast and do interviews with the German media.

Director Philipp Stölzl says, "The novel is not only a great adventure revealing the fascinating world of medieval medicine, it also explores some of life's big questions about the meaning of death, whether religion is a liberating force or a prison of the mind, and the culture clash between East and West - all topics that concern us more than ever today." Noah Gordon's eponymous novel has sold more than 21 million copies around the world, and not only forms the basis for an emotional and visually breathtaking adventure film, but is also a modern-day plea for peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance. Stellan's role as mentor to the main character, Rob Cole, has him playing a father figure, a warm and endearing part for our Swede, who should not only be well equipped to handle the role but perform it was just the right  mixture of vulnerability and humor that he does so well.

07.05.12

Here is the first photo showing actors Tom Payne and Stellan in costumes for the film adaptation of the novel THE PHYSICIAN, which is currently being shot in the Harz region of Germany. The scenes will depict England in the eleventh century with the help of computer graphics. The production will film for 13 days in eastern Germany. Stellan says, "Filming in Harz is a lot of fun. When I saw the great forests, I thought why do the Germans go to Sweden for the woods?" He explains his role, "I am playing a barber/physician/surgeon/seller of potions and a big drinker of alcohol and a screwer of whores and it is a funny role." The producers of this international production with a budget of 26 million euros believe it is a wise investment. For co-producers Nico Hofmann and Wolf Bauer, this is a long-time cherished dream. It took five years of visiting with novelist Noah Gordon in Boston to convince him that they could make the movie.

Harry Harris of Sabotage Times posted a quirky interview today with Stellan called "God, Devils and a Lot of Shagging".  Harris notes the following - "It seems Stellan is masking his disdain with a warm conviviality, a gentle smile, a casually unbuttoned shirt, a friendly handshake…I knew he was good at this acting lark, but to see it live is formidable." Harris asks Stellan what makes Scandinavia such a breeding ground for films, such as "King of Devil's Island". He replies, “Well we’ve been very successful in the crime novel business for a while, probably because we have a great tradition of grounding our crime novels very much in a modern reality, just think of the success of the Millennium books, the Wallander books, and Henning Mankel’s books. The thing about these novels’ successes is to do with Swedish society, which is the most emancipated society in the world, so, for example, it’s easy to create a heroine that’s as tough as Lisbeth Salander. Also the Scandinavian climate is good because we get heavy subsidies for making films, and also I think that Lars Von Trier with his Dogme 95 and Zentropa in Denmark have shown that you don’t have to do things by the book. You can be freer and you can be bolder. That also gives Scandinavian work an edge.” You can read the entire article at this link.

Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet conveniently summarized the British reviews of THE KING OF DEVIL'S ISLAND when it opened in the UK last weekend. The Guardian's Xan Brooks reviewer believes Skarsgård gives a "wonderfully weighted and authoritarian" performance in the film, while Jason Solomons, who has reviewed the film for the same newspaper, has this to say: "There is an impressive force in the performances." The Independent calls the film a "gripping drama" and hands out praise to both Skarsgård and Helstad. "The gloomy landscape can get you to pick your teeth with the regime's atrocities. Prompted by the manager's divide-and-rule strategy, you should get your blood to boil. Skarsgård measures a potent dose of manipulative malice, while Helstad does good work as the thorn in his side, writes Anthony Quinn, the newspaper's reviewer.

Website Whatculture.com writes in their review, titled "Gloomy, gripping prison drama": Skarsgård is a wise choice for the passive-aggressive manager, apparently unable to prove even more threatening when he speaks his native language," writes reviewer Shaun Munro. The Scottish Daily Record states, "The ingredients of this 'youth prison' movie may seem very familiar, but it's a mixture of breathtaking scenery, great acting plus a heartbreaking story." In another review, Patrick Gable for the film blog CINEVU writes, "Marius Holst's 'King of Devil's Island' is a fine example of how even the ugliest and well-hidden events in history can be the basis of something deeply beautiful. The film is, despite the fact that it basically looks like a male version of 'The Magdalene Sisters' (2002), difficult to describe as anything less than an uncomfortable, haunting journey to the breaking point of the human spirit, which, despite its few missteps, will remain with you long after you leave the cinema." Filmoria concludes, "It's a shame that it has taken two years to see this on the screens in the UK, but it was worth the wait."

On the London Bytes web site, a blogger wrote about Stellan's appearance in late June at a preview screening of "The King of Devil's Island" at the Curzon Soho cinema in London.  It was stated that "Skarsgård is incapable of giving anything less than an excellent performance." I'll second that! During the Q&A, Stellan spoke about his extensive early career in theatre, and how he enjoys alternating between big and small budget films, for the different experiences they offer. He admitted that he is not completely satisfied with any of his acting performances to date – even in Breaking the Waves, he sees things he would like to change. When playing a character with a profession, such as a butcher, he looks for meaning and inspiration from within the script, rather than learning practical skills from the butcher’s trade. He enjoys improvisation and the lack of structure on a film set, and likes to use a new approach for each take of a scene. When asked for his advice to aspiring filmmakers, he said that they should be driven by the desire to tell a unique story – and added that none of his four children, all in the entertainment industry themselves, had ever asked him for professional advice. He spoke with affection of his friend, the director Lars von Trier, describing him as a masterful storyteller.

According to the blogger, Stellan happily mingled with fans afterwards and was asked if he’d ever been approached to appear in "True Blood". He said he had indeed been asked to appear in the show, but was too busy to fit it into his schedule. What a shame! Here are some photos taken at that event, courtesty of Klinge.

Son Gustaf has joined the cast of History channel's first scripted series, "Vikings", which premieres in 2013. "Vikings" is a 10-episode drama from MGM TV from executive producers Michael Hirst and Morgan O'Sullivan ("The Tudors").  Gabriel Byrne has been cast as Earl Haraldson, a powerful figure in the historical telling of the Norsemen who raided and explored during Medieval times. Gustaf has been tapped for the role of Floki. Travis Fimmel will play the role of Viking leader Ragnar Lothbrok. Jessalyn Gilsig will play Siggy, the wife of Earl Haraldson. Clive Standen will have the role of Rollo with Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha. The previously announced George Blagden will play the role of Athelstan, an Anglo-Saxon monk captured by Ragnar on his first raid in England. "Vikings" will follow the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok, his band of Viking brothers and his family as he rises to become King of the Vikings tribes. Johan Renck and Ken Girotti are slated to direct multiple episodes of the series.