button_box.gif (205 bytes)The Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from September 9-19, is screening "As If I'm Not There", a feature film directorial debut by Irish filmmaker Juanita Wilson with a cast that includes Stellan. This has not been confirmed and although the IMDB lists this information, the database has often been wrong. The Bosnian war drama, adapted from a book by Slavenka Drakulic, follows the story of Samira, a young teacher who finds her life turned on its head the day a young soldier walks uninvited into her kitchen and she is sent to a concentration camp. Ms. Wilson has previously been nominated for an Oscar for her 2008 documentary short, "The Door". Coincidentally, last year Stellan presented her with the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Award in recognition of this short film. He spoke highly of her at the ceremony, so perhaps there is a connection and he accepted some minor role in her feature film.


button_box.gif (205 bytes)There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the casting of Lisbeth Salander of the Stieg Larsson trilogy. The coveted role in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO has gone to newcomer Rooney Mara, who is probably best known for her role in the remake of "Nightmare on Elm Street."

As you can see from the photo, she has a darling sweet face but we know a black wig and gothic make-up will transform her into the asocial, dark and damaged computer hacker! I'm not sure audiences are aware that Rooney Mara, born Patricia Mara, has created her stage name from the fact that her paternal great grandfather is none other than New York Giants founder, Timothy Mara, and her maternal great grandfather is Art Rooney, founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers! Money, money.....

Good news for DVD releases in the US and Canada! ARN: THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR will finally be available on DVD and Blu-ray on October 12th.  In a land of brave knights, powerful queens and treacherous kings, Arn, a skilled swordsman, is sent off to war as a Knight Templar. Separated from his one true love, Arn must fight the forces of a cruel and jealous world to survive. The Swedish production has English subtitles with original languages in English, Swedish, Arabic, and French. The cast includes Joakim Nätterqvist, Sofia Helin, Vincent Perez, Simon Callow and Stellan as Arn's uncle, Birger Brosa.


button_box.gif (205 bytes)Casting is underway on David Fincher's upcoming American adaptation of Stieg Larsson's hugely popular Swedish novel-turned-film - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you haven't picked up the trilogy, head to your nearest bookstore and start reading. This is intelligent and compelling crime fiction at its best. I absolutely loved it! Daniel Craig is locked to play journalist Mikael Blomkvist, while the more important role of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander has yet to be decided upon. Rooney Mara is the top contender. Three more relatively unknown actresses are also competing for the role - French actress Léa Seydoux and Australians Sarah Snook and Sophie Lowe. Frankly, I think they should just re-cast Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who fully inhabits the complex role in the original scary and gorgeous thriller. Come to think of it, didn't the Swedes got it right the first time? Let's get real - foreign films far excel re-made Hollywood productions.

However, the exciting news of the day is that Stellan is in talks to play Martin Vanger! He's one of the principal suspects in the plot which chronicles the forty-year-old disappearance of a teenage girl. Of course, once upon a time, Stellan would have taken on the Blomkvist role in the Swedish version. Think "Insomnia". What a film! About his upcoming project, Stellan said, ""I have met David Fincher, I want to work with him. He wants to work with me. I have had a concrete offer and now we are in negotiations. The contract is for the period September to March, but I don't know yet when I am supposed to start my part of the film. Most of it is to be shot in Stockholm, but some studio work will be done in the U.S. I think there might be some location work there as well when it becomes too dark to shoot here." It's a shame that Stellan is not up for the role of Lizbeth's sadistic guardian because he'd have a chance to get naked again! (chuckling...) By the way, Robin Wright Penn may be playing Erika Berger, a role that was minimized in the Swedish version. Erika is the editor of finance magazine Millenium and the sometimes lover of Blomkvist.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Stellan was present at the press conference held Monday, July 26th, in the Swedish town of Trollhättan at the start of production on Lars Von Trier's MELANCHOLIA. The director was careful not to reveal much of the film's plot saying, "I have a plan and nobody will ever find out what the plan is." All we know of this plan is that the film is about two sisters – and a planet. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg play the sisters with John Hurt playing their father. Keeping a close eye on her director during the press conference, Ms. Dunst was equally cagey about the plot: "I'm afraid of what I can say and can't say. I don't want to tell the story either." Next to her, co-star Kiefer Sutherland was gushing about the prospect of swapping a decade of Jack Bauer in "24" for arthouse cinema.

We do know that the first scene has been shot - the wedding between Kirsten and Alexander Skarsgård, whose proud dad commented, "It's like working with any talented actor, but I understand him well and I like to look at him."

Cinematographer Manuel Alberto Claro said, "Von Trier finds an energy in the scenes before and make up with photographic aesthetics. It suits me fine.” He continuted, “all are on to improvise and take it from the hip. Each day we begin without instruction, and are then given instructions along the route. The actors are completely wild and very sweet and well prepared.”

Though the film falls into the psychological disaster genre, the filmmakers are also calling it "a beautiful movie about the end of the world." The impending disaster is in the shape of a planet called Melancholia that is heading closer and closer to Earth. The English-language film started shooting July 22 and will continue its shoot through September 8. The film is set for release in May-June 2011. The cast also includes Charlotte Rampling, Jesper Christensen, Udo Kier, Brady Corbet and Cameron Spurr.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Swedish newspaper Expressen ran an article on July 30 describing the Skargårds as one of the world's greatest acting families. Three of Stellan's sons: Alexander (33), Gustaf (29) and Bill (19) are working actors. In the last year Alexander, in particular, has stepped out of his father's shadow by major roles in the American TV series, "Generation Kill" and "True Blood".

Son Sam (28) has, however, chosen to follow in his mother's footsteps in his ambition to become a doctor. Both My and Sam have also appeared in film in small roles, specifically, as mother and son in "Jim & piraterna Blom" back in 1987. In addition, Walter (14) appeared in both "Arn" films as well as two other films. This means seven Skarsgård family members have made it to the silver screen.

Ever since the kids were little, Stellan has taken his family on location when filming thereby introducing them to the acting profession. Several of his sons have expressed in various interviews that it can be tricky when your father is a famous actor. "I want to be hired because I have a talent rather than a name," Alexander told Expressen. It appears that this eldest son has finally freed himself these days, distancing himself from his father's shadow.