NEWS: JULY 2020
are some interesting tidbits from a 2016 interview with Stellan;
What's your home like?
I live in Stockholm, the southern part. It’s a former
working-class area, and now it’s more of a hipster area. A lot
of artists live there. It’s the most fun part of Stockholm.
We’re in a beautiful old 1908 apartment with a lot of life.
If you could own one work of art for your home, what would it
Oh, there are too many to pick one. It’s like asking me for a
favorite color. I cannot say which is my favorite color.
What about music? Is there anything that’s been playing in
your house as of late?
We are playing all kinds of new stuff. My wife listens to a lot
of jazz music. I have kids that listen to some horrible stuff.
You have to let them enjoy it—even if it’s very terrible.
What is the best-designed set you’ve ever worked on?
There was something old Hollywood about "Cinderella" (2015).
They built everything: the ballroom, the castle rooms. The
costumes were fantastic. Cinderella’s blue dress is probably the
most incredible dress I’ve ever seen. The pure aesthetics of
that film were fascinating. It was very beautiful.
What do you keep on your bedside table?
Books. Right now, I’m reading a book called "Postwar: A History
of Europe Since 1945" by Tony Judt. He was a historian in Europe
and has written several beautiful books. He died of ALS a few
years ago. This is a fantastic book, mainly about Europe, but
about history after World War II. It’s really good knowledge to
have in these dire times when we see the extreme right and the
extreme left sort of popping up again. [My husband also
read this book and thought it was excellent.]
What was the best movie prop you’ve gotten to take home?
ome people save their scripts or the back of their chairs or
something, but I don’t. I think I have too much, anyway. I want
to have as few possessions as possible.
Do you have a favorite architectural site that stuns you
every time you see it?
I stay at the Bowery Hotel whenever I’m in New York, and I’m
really happy to see the Chrysler Building every night when I go
Chrysler Building is absolutely stunning in the evening. Many
years ago I spent a July 4th weekend in a high-rise apartment in
the Turtle Bay section of Manhattan. Outside our bedroom window
was a close-up view of the art deco building all lit up in the
night sky. So beautiful!
I'm fortunate that I'm
only 90 miles north of the Big Apple and whenever I visit,
I definitely feel exhilarated. Love the energy! When filming
"Return to Montauk", Stellan commented, "Every time I
land at JFK, I get palpitations and my heart rate goes faster.
This surge of adrenaline does not subside before my departure.
We are tainted by the energy of this city. It
affects almost everyone. Having New York as a setting is very
special. We see it in so many films.
We have all these images in mind even without having been there.
The Empire State Building, yellow taxis..."
art featuring Valter, Gustaf & Bill, and Alex:
Stellan was recently asked by journalist Joseph Owens if he was
tired of defending the "ethical value" of the films of Lars
Von Trier, Stellan firmly replied, "No. I don't have any
ethical problems with Lars von Trier's films at all. That's not
a problem. You have problems with the perceptions of them when
he's accused of being misogynistic. No one has written as many
fantastic roles for women as he has, and he is those women! He’s
not very good at writing male roles though, which I have
suffered from but, of course, if you mean that if you don’t
portray a woman as a heroine, who is all-good, all-smart and
strong, then that’s misogyny, then you’re in trouble."
In another interview,
Stellan is asked if he feels like a star. No surprise, he
responds, "No! I hate red carpets, getting into uncomfortable
suits, parading in front of the paparazzi lens. For friends, I am Skarsan. And for actors, an ordinary work colleague, a normal
And his thoughts on the
pandemic - "All my film projects were canceled by the end of
the year... The world will never be the same again. Finally,
people will realize how vulnerable they are regardless of
whether they are rich or poor, educated or illiterate." And what
about the film industry? Stellan explains, "European independent
cinema has always had to fight for its survival, so it is
hardened and I believe that it will survive, although the number
of non-commercial cinemas may decrease. Certainly multiplexes
will do better. Despite the dismissed premieres, great
super-productions will somehow manage. And certainly the biggest
winners are and will be streaming platforms. They are just
recording huge customer growth. Anyway, when the epidemic is
over, people will want to go back to theaters. Only it takes
some time for them to feel relatively safe again."
STEALING HORSES (Ut og stjaele hester), directed by Hans
Peter Moland and starring Stellan, is set to be released in
American theaters and VOD on August 7. I love these Nordic
adaptation of Per Petterson’s 2003 novel of the same name made
Time magazine’s list of the Top 10 Fiction Books of 2007 and The
New York Times’ 10 Best Fiction Books of 2007 list as well. The
film itself was also Norway’s representative for Best Foreign
Film at this year’s Oscars but missed out on being nominated. It
has its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last
This is an excellent intro
to the film - "Summer is special, especially in one's years
leading up to adulthood. School break aside, it's the ideal time
for growth and exploration. Lifeguarding at the neighborhood
pool or cashiering at a grocery store sets the foundation for a
solid work ethic. Spending more time with someone you really
care about lets love’s experience into the heart
to—hopefully—flourish. Even the leisurely drives with all the
windows rolled down shows how much more of the world is out
there to take in. It's that season of the blazing sun that forms
much of the backdrop for 'Out Stealing Horses.'"
have created a special page
for eldest son Alexander. Among the photos I have posted
are several from his ads for Clarks, the British-based,
international shoe manufacturer and retailer. Alex has been
featured in both the Autumn/Winter 2019 and Spring/Summer 2020
campaigns. His quote is "Comfort is coming home." How true! On recalling his first pair of Clark Desert Boots,
Alex said: "The Gallagher brothers of Oasis wore them, so
naturally I had to get a pair. I remember thinking they looked
too clean when I got them, so I asked my dad to run over them
with his car. He went back and forth a bunch of times, so they’d
look aged and worn." What a good father!
know that Stellan is a foodie, but did you know he had a couple
kitchens built that he designed himself? He admits having an
aesthetic interest and says, "A kitchen has to work for me. I've
never wanted something that looked like it was 'designed'. I mix
styles and time periods to make them look as if they have been
there forever but have been changed and improved gradually.
That gives a kitchen a very personal feeling. They don’t look
like an architect who doesn’t care has drawn them. A home, to
me, has to breathe and express the people living in it. It’s
about more than just aesthetics."
But does he build it
himself? He says, "No, I just design it. I am really lousy with
building. I’ve tried. I wanted to build some beautiful
outdoor furniture in oak with a slightly Japanese design, very
simple and very delicate. It took me forever to build
it. Oak is hard to work with. Three weeks after it was
finished it turned out that the oak hadn’t been aged enough, so
it started to bend and everything fell apart. I gave away all my
tools to my more able brother."
Several years ago
Stellan's wife Megan did a bunch of food videos. I have no idea
if the kitchen she used was her own so I can't say that it was a
"Stellan" design. However, do note that the stove is placed
almost against a wall, not allowing the proper space to work in
to the right. A "no-no" in my kitchen design!
It seems plausible that
Megan is just as much a foodie as her husband. Stellan was asked
was he a self-taught cook or did he use cookbooks. He replied,
"I learned from my parents. Both my father and my mother cooked
a lot. But I have a huge collection of cookbooks. I read
cookbooks, and some things I just invent myself. Usually I start
by trying somebody's recipe." When he's off on location, he
reports, "I try to pick up as much as I can of the local
cuisine. I always eat what they cook in the country
I’m in." He says
when he's home he does a lot of Italian because it's pure. He
adds, "I also love doing French because I love making
stocks. I have in my freezer chicken stock, beef stock, veal
stock, and others that I’ve made, so I can always make a good
sauce." In his retirement, maybe Stellan
could equally excel at doing a cooking show on Swedish TV with
people recognize "A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man" as
being the work of Irish writer James Joyce. However, if you drop
the "A", in Swedish, it reads "Porträtt av en konstnär som
ung man" and now you have a Dramaten stage production with
solo performance by Stellan. Personally, I think the title
rip-off and makes for too much confusion. Sweden's production
was written by Per-Verner-Carlsson, whose play is based on a
August Strindberg letter written as a youth. It premiered on May
14, 1981 and had 16 performances. The first photo shows Stellan
on stage in a rather bizarre costume. The second photo was taken
at Riksradion (National Radio) with Stellan doing a reading of his role on Sunday,
January 20, 1985.
was 1996 when Danish director Lars von Trier's haunting
masterpiece "Breaking the
Waves" premiered at the
Cannes Film Festival. Starring Stellan and Emily Watson, the
film was a smashing success.
Twenty years later, it
premiered as an opera at the Kimmel Center's Perelman
Theater in Philadelphia. The controversial director’s
fable about a woman told to sleep with other men by her
paralyzed husband is a work of
extreme emotions so it adapted well to an
orchestra, a chorus and heart-rendering arias. Back in 2016,
Librettist Royce Vavrek told the press he was 14
living in Canada when he first encountered the film - "I saw
it at the 1997 Golden Globe Awards when they showed a scene
where Jan asks Bess to take up other lovers. It just blew my
mind... I found Lars von Trier to be this master
storyteller. I just loved his audacity. 'Breaking the Waves'
is something I’ve been carrying with me for 20 years." The
opera was the recipient of the 2017 award for “Best New
Opera” by the Music Critics Association of North America.
The following year it
premiered at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in
NYC. In 2019 it had its West Coast premiere in Oakland, CA
with West Edge Opera and it will again be performed on the
West Coast at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles
from February 27 to March 21, 2021.
I've added the TV page for RAPPORT TILL HIMLEN ("Report to
Heaven"). While compiling info on this 1994 Swedish mini-TV
series, I noted it was written and directed by Ulf Malmros, a
name I immediately recognized. I have seen three of his other
films -"Min så kallade pappa", "Smala
Sussie" and "Bröllopsfotografen".
He definitely has a quirky sense of humor and this fantasy-like
series sounds like a cross between "Twin Peaks" and the "I see
dead people" film "The Sixth Sense".
The story starts out with
Victor (played by Johan Widerberg) drowning and apparently dead
for 12 minutes. Later he begins to see dead people.
He meets Anna (Lina England), who has been the victim of a
serial killer. In order for her to enter heaven, she must find
her killer and then fill out a report. However, not everyone
wants her to go to heaven. Stellan takes on the unpleasant role
of a nasty police officer called Gary. Ulf Malmros himself has
said that the series was a project he is most satisfied with.
SVT did not request any control over the script, recording or
editing so that gave him the artistic freedom he wanted. The
series is available on DVD in Sweden and some clips can be
viewed at youtube.com.
Skarsgård men on the cover
of Swedish magazine Café -
garnering rave reviews from critics and audiences on the
festival circuit for the past nine months, IFC Films has finally
set a theatrical and VOD release date for the Czech
black-and-white war drama THE
PAINTED BIRD this month. The film is set to hit select
theaters, drive-ins, digital platforms and VOD on July 17.
The photo below was taken
during the 43rd edition of Sweden's Göteborg Film
Festival in January when the film was screened. During a
conversation with the festival's artistic director, Stellan
said, "It was absolutely impossible to get financing
for such a film which is a traditional arthouse film but the
director Vaclav Marhoul succeeded. He filmed
it for two years... and it is like the old cinematic masterpiece
of Eastern Europe. Black and white and wide screen. Almost no
dialogue. It is cinematic storytelling and it is fantastic."