AUGUST 2005 NEWS

8.28.05:

This past week the media has finally widely publicized the news that Stellan will be playing Goya in GOYA'S GHOSTS. Goya (1746-1828), considered one of the fathers of modern art, was a bold and prolific court painter who continued working until he was 82. His uncompromising attitude in depicting his time, which included Napoleon's invasion of Spain, has long made him a subject of fascination. There have been several films about his life, including one by renowned Spanish director Carlos Saura. The film is Milos Forman's first directing project since 1999's ''Man on the Moon'' and filming is due to start in Spain in another week. Stellan's co-stars are pictured below. Do you know which of them Stellan has previously worked with and what film it was? Click here for the answer.


Cast: Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Randy Quaid, Michael Lonsdale and  José Luis Gómez

According to Cinematical.com, Stellan is a genius like Goya and this film should be a piece of cake for him. Well, I think this role will be quite challenging, but based on his track record, I'm sure he'll once again succeed in giving his audience a fascinating and multi-layed character. In an 1998 interview I'm about to post in the upcoming week, Stellan talks about filmmaking - "I do want my co-actors to feel good. But it’s not only to be nice. I feel better if I know they are feeling better. And the acting will also improve. At the same time it’s damn tough. My neck cramps up two weeks before I start shooting, and my blood pressure goes up a lot. I feel pretty bad before I get going; before I find my role and the transition into it. And I also need to find the social balance that I need on the set." That was seven years ago so perhaps Stellan finds it an easier transition these days. I'll have to ask him....

DOMINION was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival this past week. Director Paul Schrader introduced his film, which he described as a rare event in the UK as the film is going straight to DVD over here. Neil Young of Jigsaw Lounge comments on the festival entry -  "While it is indeed as highbrow as its reputation suggests, Schrader has (despite his own protestations to the contrary) made a proper horror film here, one with plenty of scary and/or nastily violent moments. It's a rather more serious affair than all three previous Exorcist pictures - concentrating on the moral, philosophical and spiritual struggles of Fr Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård, in top form) in post-war Africa...Reminiscent of Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus at numerous junctures, Dominion is easily Schrader's most satisfying work for years - though you will have to overlook some ropey CGI effects and a couple of slightly sub-par performances. As a series of films the Exorcist pictures have arguably been more trouble than they've been worth - but at least with this (presumably) final chapter, it goes out on something of a high."

Rory Ford of The Scotsman writes, "Skarsgård is excellent in both versions but here his Father Merrin is the focus of the film rather than a nominal protagonist. His experiences in Nazi-occupied Holland, which precipitate his crisis of faith, are echoed in the British Army's colonial brutality in protecting their architectural find. It's the clash of ideologies that interests Schrader far more than any simple notions of good and evil...Screening Dominion at Edinburgh is part of the process of bidding it farewell. You suspect that life has become much tougher for independent American filmmakers over the intervening decades, and that Schrader is no exception. If the chance to make a film like Dominion arose again, he might be powerless to resist because of a burning desire to work. Right now, he seems happy just to bid it farewell. 'The DVD comes out in October and then it's officially in the past,' he declares with a palpable sense of relief that the curse has finally been lifted." You can view the trailer at the Warner Bros. site.

8.15.05:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Good news for Exorcist and Stellan fans! The single DVD of DOMINION will be released in both Region 1 and 2. The UK release will be on October 17th and the US release will be on October 25th. According to dvdanswers.com, the US version will be priced at around $24.98. The film itself will be presented in anamorphic widescreen, along with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Extra material will include deleted scenes, and a stills gallery. Many thanks to my good friend, Robin Solsjö Höglund, for this news alert!

8.05.05:

Paul Schrader's DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST will be featured at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The August 24th screening has been sold out but there are still tickets available for August 26th.  Click here to purchase tickets online. The festival describes the film as "a genuinely unnerving meditation on the nature of evil and redemption." It's disappointing for US fans that there's no news on a Dominion DVD release for Region 1; however, the Exorcist DVD Collection will be released in the UK on October 17, 2005, and will include The Exorcist, Exorcist II, The Exorcist III, Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion. Click here for more details. My thanks to Robin Solsjö Höglund for this news alert.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)As previously announced, Stellan was invited to become a voting member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I wrote him on June 28th asking if he would accept and he responded with, "How do you know everything??? I got mail from my manager about the academy after your mail already had arrived so I didn’t know or understand anything." Well, that sure gave me a wide grin :-) Anyway, Stellan gave me some updates yesterday. Yes, he will be accepting their invitation but he will not attend the September 27th reception due to his filming schedule. For the same reason, he says he will unfortunately have to miss the BEOWULF AND GRENDEL premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, commenting that he enjoys the Toronto festival because "the audience is great there."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)He will be shooting the Milos Forman historical drama, GOYA'S GHOSTS, co-starring Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem, from September 7 through Christmas with locations in Madrid, Salamanca, Toledo and Cuenca province in Spain. Stellan says while he's still on holiday in Sweden, he's been flying back and forth to London and Madrid to prepare for his role. There's been some prep such as fittings, which include a wig, teeth and  a "nice round little Goya nose". He's also had several script readings and works on the script a little each day wherever he is. Apparently, it has been a tough task for the Goya people to fit their schedules around his POTC shooting dates in the Bahamas but he adds, "I think they have managed - until the next schedule change." Right now Stellan is content to enjoy summer and some island life in Sweden and ends with "today I'll take the boat to sea."

More casting news for GOYA'S GHOSTS. Randy Quaid will be playing King Carlos IV of Spain according to a Beck/Smith Hollywood exclusive. Quaid says, "It's a wonderful script and a lot of it resonates today - the dynamics with religion, soldiers invading countries and expecting to be welcomed as heroes and liberators." He's been preparing for the role and says his neck is sore from learning violin and other places are sore from training in proper English riding style. And then there are the costumes - 1790s style complete with wig. Foreman told him he actually resembles the king! In Timeout news, co-star Natalie Portman says she can't wait to sink her teeth into the role (as Goya's muse) and immerse herself in the culture and history of the time. She exclaims excitedly, "There's tons of stuff  I'll have to learn for the film about Catholicism, about Spain, about painting, about art history and the history of the church in Spain. I'll also have to learn how to play the piano and conduct."

Director Milos Forman and producer Saul Zaentz have been scouting Spain for location scenes for the film. Today they were in Segovia where they were seeking to find exterior shots - streets and architecture that resemble late 18th century/early 19th century Madrid. Spanish cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe has been brought on board. Stellan will be working with quite a prestigious team - Forman is a two-time Oscar winner for Best Director (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, which both won Best Picture), Bardem received an Oscar nominiation for Best Actor (Before Night Falls) and Portman received a Best Actress nomination (Closer).

button_box.gif (205 bytes)In the 7/28 edition of Sweden's Aftonbladet, Keira Knightley talks about working with Stellan in both KING ARTHUR and POTC. Translated she says, "Oh, I love Stellan! He is the funniest, most generous actor I've ever met, and every day is a party when he is around. We collapse together with laughter. I'm very lucky to work with him." Thanks to Susan Norris for this info and to Robin for the translation.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Stellan's eldest son, Alexander, is on location in the US doing an American/Swedish film called Kill Your Darlings, a comedy-drama that focuses on two separate, yet strangely intertwined, LA to Las Vegas road trips. The cast includes Night Court's John Larroquette, Ally McBeal's Greg Germann, Lolita Davidovich, Hollywood 40/50's actress Terry Moore, and Swedish actors Andreas Wilson and Alexander in the role of a transvestite named Geert! The film is directed by Björne Larson, who co-directed the short film Att döda ett barn with Alexander in 2003. Here are some pics of Alex in costume:

8.02.05:

I've been offline for a month enjoying the sun and sea - hence, the lack of news in July. I'd like to thank Ella Stinger for informing me abut the August 2nd announcement at the Beowulf and Grendel web site. We finally have information! BEOWULF AND GRENDEL will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs September 8-17, and will be screened under "Special Presentations".  Last year Hotel Rwanda and Sideways were among the films shown under this category. The TIFF has not released their film programme so the premiere date is still unknown at this time. The Icelandic saga, in which Stellan plays King Hrothgar, is helmed by Canadian director Sturla Gunnarsson.