NEWS: AUGUST 2021

08.30.21

I was interested in how many films with Stellan had been screened at the Cannes Film Festival and found these 7 films:

To my surprise, I wasn't aware of  "The Film Worker" shown in 2017. It's a biographical documentary centered on the life and career of Leon Vitali and his working relationship with film director Stanley Kubrick. Among those interviewed was Stellan who knew Vitali as the assistant director for the 1985 Swedish TV production of "Hamlet".

Stellan's contribution:

"Leon had a lot of knowledge not only about filmmaking, but also about literature and everything. And at the same time, he was a workhorse. Uh, he'd do anything. I mean, he'd carry logs for you. Film workers are slightly different than other people. And that goes for theater workers too. They're usually there for the love. They work the worse hours. They're usually not at home. And they do all this with a fantastic capacity of creating a functioning social unit that is extremely intimate within hours."

Stellan is asked - "Are you obsessive about creativity too?

"I don't know. I don't think about it. I am creative. I work a lot. And when I'm not working, I'm cooking. And when I'm not cooking, I'm fucking. It's all creative work. (Stellan laughing) I worked as an assistant for a very, very good Swedish director in the Royal Dramatic Theatre for several years. I did small roles in his plays. And I assisted and did a lot of assistant work. And I loved it. And after a while, you feel how he feels. You think how he thinks. And you learn to see what's going on with his eyes. And that's a fantastic revelation as an assistant."

Previously I had a very small image of a 1992 issue of Cafe magazine featuring Stellan on the cover. I can now post a much larger photo.

08.29.21

Son Bill's current film project has just begun shooting, according to Variety. It's called "Burn All My Letters" based on Alex Schulman's successful novel of the same name. It is a Swedish film directed by Björn Runge, whose last film "The Wife" (2017) I greatly admired. The story is described as a fiery love drama about Karin Stolpe's complex relationship with her husband Sven Stolpe (Skarsgård) and her torrid afffair with Olof Lagercrantz. The film shows the impact of jealousy, passion and anger across 70 years, involving different generations. Sounds very appealing to me. The film is expected to premiere in Swedish theaters in the fall of 2022.

Eleven years ago, I posted this information on a youtube.com video regarding Stellan cooking nasi goreng - November 2, 2011 to be exact. Yes, this archive of over 21,000 files is full of delightful trivia. If you google the name "Stellan" and "nasi goreng", you will bring up Stellanonline.com!

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You may have caught the following video on the Internet, but in case you haven't, you have to see it! Follow this link. It's from Swedish TV back in 1987 and shows Stellan preparing dinner for his family while also helping Alexander with his  homework. By the way, for those who may not be familiar with nasi goreng, it's considered the national dish of Indonesia. The fried rice dish was one of my favorite meals during the year I lived in Holland. Stellan made my mouth water!

I like to eat my nasi goreng with a loempia, always homemade in this house. If you live in New England, try Tasya's Kitchen in Somersworth, NH. Yummy!

And here's more trivia - did you know that Stellan was considered for the lead role in "Schindler's List" (1993)? He would have been awesome! Would he have won an Oscar? Probably not because Liam Neeson lost to Tom Hanks for his role in "Philadelphia". What a bummer for Liam!

08.28.21

IGN has given us a more detailed description of Stellan's role in DUNE. - "The Baron speaks - 'The desert takes the weak. My desert. My Dune.' One of the wealthiest members of the Landsraad, House Harkonnen is the bitter rival of House Atreides. This sinister family is ruled by the cruel, hedonistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. As Dune begins, House Atreides has been granted control of Arrakis by the Emperor, displacing House Harkonnen, who had controlled the harvesting of Spice for generations. While Baron Harkonnen pretends to be outraged over losing control of Arrakis to his rival, Duke Leto, in reality he hopes to use the situation as an opportunity to destroy his enemy once and for all. Actor Stellan Skarsgård endured hours of heavy makeup to transform into the monstrous, morbidly obese Baron, who is strapped into "suspensors" in order to move (or, more precisely, float) and literally lord over other characters." You can watch the video at this link. I think the photo below is the best one so far of Stellan.

TIFF has announced their schedule and will screen DUNE several times beginning at noon on September 11 at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto and again on 9/13 at 8 pm.  It will also be screened at the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre on 9/11 at 7:15 pm, on 9/12 at 7:30 pm, and on 9/18 at 8 pm.

Headlines this summer announced that Alexander had joined the cast of Brandon Cronenberg's new sci-fi thriller "Infinity Pool". My first question is what cast? Production is about to begin in 9 days and there still is no word on who else will join Alex. What we do know is that the Canada-Hungary-France co-production has been stalled for a couple years due to financial problems, which have now been resolved.  Based on an original screenplay written by Cronenberg, the film will center on an rich couple named James and Em who take an all-inclusive vacation on a picturesque island. Outside the hotel gates is something dangerous and seductive which will give their vacation a sinister turn. The film will be shot in Budapest, Hungary and the coast of Croatia. Alex will also act as an executive producer. It is rumored that Robert Pattinson was offered the lead role, but passed.

Did you know that Brandon is the son of the famous David Cronenberg? OMG, he's directed so many films that I've loved - "The Dead Zone" (1983) with Christopher Walken, "Dead Ringers" (1988) with Jeremy Irons, "eXistenZ" (1999) with Jude Law, "Spider" (2002) with Ralph Fiennes, and three Viggo Mortensen films - "A History of Violence " (2005), "Eastern Promises" (2007) and "A Dangerous Method" (2011). Except for "Spider", they're all available via streaming at Amazon.

08.27.21

Though this photo was used in 2014 by a European newspaper, I believe it's a much younger Stellan. An unusually sexy shot!

I was finally able to view Alexander's "Godzilla vs. Kong" on HBO this week. I highly doubt this film will do anything positive for any of the cast members except give them a paycheck. Alex did fine, as usual, although I was almost embarrassed for him when he spewed out some of this really dumb dialogue. With its ridiculous plot and lack of character development and expected suspense, you have to rely simply on the CGI effects for entertainment. I ask you why can't a summer blockbuster be intelligent? Think of "Jaws", "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and the original "Star Wars". As CGI has progressed over the years, the phrase "mindless action movie" has surfaced. I long for the old school effects - those glorious days of men in rubber gorilla suits! My biggest complaint is the fact they stole from Spielberg's "E.T". We all loved the sweet relationship between the little girl (played by Drew Barrymore) and E.T. and their "phone home" connection. This time an eight-year-old does sign language with Kong signaling "home". Shame on the writers!

When Alexander was asked why he signed onto the film, he replied, "I did the 'Little Drummer Girl', which is a limited series based on the John le Carré novel about conflicts in the Middle East, and I had just come off 'Big Little Lies', two seasons of domestic abuse. They were two of the most rewarding experiences of my career but also really, really draining, really intense experiences. I was just craving something fun and exciting. I hadn't done any big tent pole matinee-style movies since 'Tarzan'." Okay, we'll forgive you, Alex.

This is a unique photo taken in either late 2002 or early 2003 during the filming of "Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist". The translation of the caption says Stellan is in Rome taking an opportunity to shop for such things as artichokes. He is happy with food and happy cooking. In the evening he plans to cook osso buco for his family and director Paul Schrader. Notice the dangling cigarette!

08.26.21

Production for Disney+ original series STAR WARS ANDORS has finally wrapped according to a report from Star Wars news site, Bespin Bulletin. Filming began all the way back in November and presumably due to various setbacks related to the COVID-19 pandemic, filming is just now concluding 8 months later. The only thing that we really know about the project is that it is a prequel to 2016’s "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and it follows Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor. There is yet to be an official trailer revealed for the series.

Comicbook.com reports that footage from DUNE has debuted this week at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. One segment features a heart-racing sandworm attack. As the sandworm emerges, everything starts to sink into its huge gaping mouth consuming everything in its way. Yowser! This sequence seems to assure fans that Denis Villeneuve's adaptation is following the beloved novel. Eight more days before the film's premiere in Venice!

Other news coming out of Cinema.Con is a report that Focus Features revealed some early footage from Alexander's "The Northman", directed by Robert Eggers. The footage, actually unfinished since they are still shooting in Iceland, was described as brutal and somewhat weird. That's not surprising if you've seen Eggers's "The Lighthouse". That is one awesome film that shouldn't be missed. This cinephile absolutely loved it. And I'm thrilled that Willem Dafoe has been cast once more. Because of the pandemic, the production has endured many setbacks. They were scheduled to begin filming in March of last year in Belfast, Ireland, but were forced to quarantine following a shutdown. Filming picked up in August and ended in December.

Co-star Ralph Ineson told the press, "It’s an enormous movie... The marriage of Rob Eggers’s imagination and Viking folklore…Jesus, man." Eggers wrote the screenplay with Icelandic poet and novelist Sjón and the film will mark the most ambitious directorial effort of his career. Ineson also discussed his co-star - "Alexander Skarsgård looks like an absolute beast. [There’s] a scene where he beats this guy in a battle; bends down and rips his throat out with his teeth, screams to the gods and he’s got his shirt off – and you think: ‘My god that’s not a bodybuilder doing a scene, that’s like a proper serious actor!’ He’s made himself look like some kind of monster for the part, the dedication’s incredible. I think it will be a bit of a masterpiece, to be honest."

 The $110 million Viking epic will hit theaters on April 8, 2022.

Seated next to his younger brother Kettil is Stellan in a darling photo taken in 1959. You might mistake him for a young Alexander. I love the story how Kettil decided to make some money as soon as Stellan got his "Bombi" role. He had his brother sign a bunch of autographs and then sold them to his classmates for 50 öre a piece.

Eight years later, here's Kettil in the first photo in a publicity shot for "Bombi". Kettil has, among other things, worked as a manager at Sturehof Restaurant in Stockholm and written books about food and drink. The second photo, taken on the same day - April 27, 1967 - is a joyous one - Stellan with his parents celebrating his "Bombi" stardom. In several interviews over the years, Stellan has often expressed how grateful he is to his parents for making sure that he remained stable even when he received all the attention of a pop star. 

08.25.21

The Skarsgård family has reason to celebrate today. It's Alexander's 45th birthday. Using FaceApp, an anonymous fan cleverly shows us how he might look in another ten years. Still a handsome guy!

For those of you who understand Swedish, two audiobooks have been released this year based on journalist Gunnar Rehlin's biography of Stellan. In 2000 Fischer & Co published the book "Stellan". I was able to purchase one of the last copies. Vibery Audiobooks published Part 1, narrated by Mikael Andersson at 5 hr. 13 min., on March 20, 2021 and Part 2, narrated by Jesper Gustafsson at 1 hr. 46 min., on June 11, 2021. The description reads, "In the first part we are thrown straight into Hollywood and the mythical hotel Chateau Marmont where Stellan, at times, lived next door to stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Pierce Brosnan. We then go back in time to Stellan's childhood, which took place in a long line of Swedish cities before he moved to Stockholm and broke through with 'Bombi Bitt' as a 16-year-old. In the second part of the biography, we get to follow Stellan from his 50th birthday in 2001 all the way to his 70th birthday of this year. Finally, Johan Renck tells in the epilogue about his memories of Stellan.

So often filmmakers romanticize alcoholism and I'm not sure why such abhorrent behavior has to be glamorized. Fortunately, in the hands of director Hans Peter Moland, you have a movie like the Norwegian-British production "Aberdeen" (2000), in which the abusive alcoholic father is seen in more authentic raw moments, such as throwing up on his daughter while she's driving. (gadzooks!) The daughter in this case is actress Lena Headey, best known for her role as Cersei Lannister in "Game of Thrones". The film, which was quite successful, was the second collaboration between Skarsgård and Moland having worked together in "Zero Kelvin" (1995), which featured Stellan as a heavy-drinking mean trapper. "Aberdeen" made its US premiere in NYC at the Village Cinema on August 17, 2001. The year before it was screened at the Haugesund International Film Festival in Norway where Stellan was in attendance. Love that cigarette!

08.24.21

The prestigious New York Film Festival has added DUNE to its lineup. It will be screened in the Spotlight section. The festival will take place from September 24 to October 10. In other "Dune" news, it's reported that the film will be accompanied by a behind-the-scenes book titled "The Art and Soul of Dune" and will come in both trade and limited-edition versions. It will include several exclusive interviews with the film's director, cast and crew.

Since 2005, an exhibition called "Welcome to my Hometown" has greeted passengers at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. It consists of photographs of well-known Swedes in culture, art, music, fashion, sport and business. No surprise that Stellan is featured. In 2015 most of the 93 photos were replaced but Stellan's remained along with those of director Ingmar Bergman, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, children's author Astrid Lindgren and tennis legend Björn Borg. These portraits hang in Terminal 2 and 5 arrival halls beyond the security checkpoint.

Since I occasionally post news on Alexander's career in my updates, I was curious as to how many web sites have been created as an archive of his television and film work other than Wikipedia. I'm talking about professional web sites where you purchase the domain name and pay monthly fees for the server. I came up with the following two web sites though there was no content - simply freebie photo galleries, which are popular on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook. If I've missed any web sites, let me know.

alexanderskarsgard.fr - called Alexander Skarsgård Daily. It has not been updated since January 2021. I had to continually remove ads from dateefly.com which covered the entire screen as well as infolinks ads that repeatedly popped up at the bottom of every page.

alexanderskarsgard.net - called Alexander Skarsgård Network. It has not been updated since June 2021.

By the way, if you're really into Alex, you might check out pixels.com. You can purchase his photo printed on towels, pillows, shower curtains, totes, t-shirts, notebooks, blankets and even your Covid-19 mask! What next!

Well, I guess if you can think of it, it's probably out there. Yes, more sh**. If anyone wants a Baron Harkonnen throw pillow, you can purchase it at realsimple.com.

The following photos show the premiere party last week for the cast of Viaplay's new Swedish series - "Zebrarummet" starring Valter. The trailer is available at this youtube link. Viaplay will supposedly be available in North America in December and will feature English subtitles.

08.22.21

Here's a new black & white photo of Stellan taken in 2004. With all the warnings about smoking since the 70's, it is surprising that he's photographed with a cigarette in his hand. Plus his wife at that time was a doctor! And the series of three photos from 1989 look like they're from some cigarette ad. Let's hope that our he's given up this bad habit in favor of better health.

 

And here's another one! This was featured in Vecko magazine in December 1988.

As reported yesterday, Total Film magazine has devoted 20 pages to DUNE in its latest issue. Included is the following interview with Stellan:

Denis has said that one of the reasons he cast you as the Baron is that he finds you scary on screen. Did you take that as a compliment?

SS: Well, it's not a compliment if he's only seen me in "Mamma Mia", but I'm very grateful he thought I could be scary enough to play the Baron.

How do you relate to a character like the Baron?

SS: The Baron has a function that is very clear as the threat to the hero, Paul Atreides and his family. There's no need or room to try making a psychologically complex character of him. In the film, he 100% evil.

How did the prosthetics and body suit help you find the character?

SS: I would say that the prosthetics is the character. It's all in his appearance and my job is not to stand in the way and let the frightening visuals work.

The Baron is so large he can't even walk. Was it a challenge to convey the character's power while remaining largely static?

SS: Not at all, still is powerful and the threat is contained but felt. The lion makes no unnecessary moves while the antelope never rests.

One of the more striking moments in the trailer sees the Baron emerge from a very sticky-looking bath. What was it like to lie in that?

SS: I never quite understood what the recipe for the goo was but it was a black, oily liquid with rather high viscosity. Not pleasant to get in your eyes and definitely nothing you'd like to drown in.

Did you and Denis talk about what's to come for the Baron?

SS: What the continuation for the Baron will be is already written in Frank Herbert's book but how Denis will express it, I don't know yet. I'm, of course, somewhat divided in the possibility of doing Part Two. I'd love to be on Denis' set again and what him work but I'm not sure I can find any pleasure in getting into that body again or being submerged in that sticky liquid.

Here's a flashback - 20 years ago - a young Alexander!

08.21.21

With DUNE premiering in less than two weeks at the Venice International Film Festival, we can expect to see more magazines focusing on it. The cover below is from the latest issue of Total Film, which hit shelves yesterday. It includes 20 pages of exclusive access to director Denis Villeneuve discussing Sandworms, David Lynch, and how "Arrival" and "Blade Runner" got him ready for this sci-fi epic.

Though Mikael Persbrandt and Stellan are both Swedish actors, they've never acted together and have rarely been seen together. What they have in common is they have both played espionage agent Carl Hamilton. The first photo shows the pair at the 2002 Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund. The second one was taken at the 2011 European Film Awards in Berlin.

Thelocal.se ran an article in December 2013 on Mikael Persbrandt and they asked the question - "Can he knock Stellan Skarsgård off his perch?" They predicted he might seek international acclamation like Stellan and become the latest overnight Swedish success story. Eight years later, now at 58 years old, there's little chance he will get that breakout role. Stellan still reigns! Personally, I find Persbrandt an exceptionally interesting actor with intense screen presence and I admire several of his performances such as in "Dag och natt" and "Stockholm East". However, off screen, his history reads more like Sweden's Sean Penn - a bit of a bad boy. There again, I greatly admire the work of Sean Penn on film but am not enamored by his personal life.

It was just announced yesterday that BILL Skarsgård has just been cast in producer Sam Raimi's newest film project called "Boy Kills World". The story is about a man named Boy, who seeks revenge for the death of his entire family. It will be directed by Moritz Mohr. Bill has also signed on to appear in "John Wick: Chapter 4". I'm not a major fan of action movies but I do enjoy this franchise with Keanu Reeves. Here are two adorable photos of Bill at ten years old.

08.18.21

In an interview with Sight & Sound magazine, Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloe Zhao said she was "blown away" after seeing a screening of DUNE. She was very impressed with the hotly anticipated sci-fi movie but expressed her fear that audiences may not see it at the cinema. She added, "It gives me hope that a filmmaker like Denis is able to really harness his vision and put together something that's so incredible, so cinematic." The "Nomadland" director confessed that she is uncertain about the future of cinema as the pandemic has led to a significant shift in viewing habits. How true! Not only has the pandemic changed where and how we view movies but certainly all these streaming services have enabled audiences to enjoy the cinema experience in their own home. Most films, especially arthouse films, do quite well without the big screen.

When I created this web site 17 years ago, Stellan was hardly known in this country. Forget Alexander. Cinephiles might have remembered Stellan from "Good Will Hunting". For information, I had to dig deep and I relied on Tradera.se for magazines and films or devoted Swedish fans to help with the translations. It's a different world today. After all these years of research in building this site, nowadays my job is a lot easier. I can now rely on tumblr or twitter for photos or trivia such as this - did you know that when Danish director Lars Von Trier was trying to cast "Breaking the Waves", his first choice to play the role of Bess was Helena Bonham Carter? She dropped out just before shooting was to start due to the large amount of nudity and sexuality required by the role. She probably didn't want to mess around with Stellan's private parts (laughing). Von Trier was eventually won over by Emily Watson's audition, even though she was a complete unknown in the film industry at the time. The above photo was taken at the 2015 Berlinale screening of "Cinderella" and Helena actually resembles Emily in this photo.

Casting for movies is an important job and the filmmakers for the 2011 Marvel film "Thor" were looking for the right actor to play the lead role. Of course, we know that Stellan nabbed the part of Eric Selvig but Alexander was actually considered for the role of Thor. He joined a handful of others who made it to the final casting stages, meeting with Marvel executive Kevin Feige and director Kenneth Branagh. He auditioned in costume and described it as "fun" but ultimately lost to a relatively unknown actor at the time - Chris Hemsworth.

Alex was back doing reshoots three weeks ago for Robert Eggers' viking film, "The Northman". The film also stars Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke and two actors who have worked with Alex's dad - Ingvar Sigurdsson ("Beowulf & Grendel") and Björk ("Dancer in the Dark"). The film is an epic revenge thriller that explores how far a Viking prince will go to seek justice for his murdered father and is scheduled to hit theaters on April 8, 2022.

Sometimes you have to wonder what criteria the IMDB uses in selecting the defining photo for each person. Stellan's is very respectful and I approve but what were they thinking when they decided on Alexander's? Back in 2016 he was a presenter at the MTV Movie Awards and for a joke, he came out on stage dressed in his tuxedo sans the pants. What idiot or idiots at IMDB thought that was a perfect choice for his photo!!

I've added some older magazine covers on Alexander's page. Here's a more recent one from Spanish magazine Fotogramas in conjunction with the premiere of "Godzilla vs. Kong" earlier this year.

Critics gave the blockbuster 75% on the Rotten Tomatometer, but the audience score was 91%, and that's because it's easy to ignore the mediocre story and characters when there's plenty of action and incredible effects. I go way back to seeing the 1956 North American "Godzilla" version at 13 years old when I was a horror film enthusiast.

Tumblr photos of the day:

This is a publicity shoot for the 1989 espionage film TÄCKNAMN COQ ROUGE in which Stellan plays a James Bond-like character named Coq Rouge - aka Agent Carl Hamilton. Stellan won the award for Best Actor and Göran Nilsson won the award for Best Cinematography at the 25th Guldbagge Awards. Here's another old photo of Stellan also from 1989.

08.16.21

Actor son Valter Skarsgård is presently training for an upcoming role as ice hockey icon Börje Salming. The unnamed series will be broadcast on Viaplay with the start of production scheduled to begin next year. In the meantime, Valter admits there have been many falls on the ice. He tells the press, "I warned them early on that I can basically stand on a pair of skates, but no more than that." Though he is not allowed to reveal too much about the preparation for the role, Valter says a transformation will definitely take place. These photos accompanied the Swedish media articles:

With the premiere of  "Zebrarummet" via Viaplay streaming services in another week, Cafe magazine featured a short interview with Valter and referred to an earlier interview when Valter mentioned that he had received advice from his father that nothing is clear... Valter finishes with "until you see yourself on the screen. Yes, he usually says that and I have also experienced that. So I try not to have too high expectations. I'm just happy to be able to work. I have had periods where I have not had a job, and then it is clear that you will be stressed. I'm just happy to have something to do and that I am involved in projects that I am passionate about."

Finally, an official DUNE poster is released but, alas, no Stellan even though he gets 5th billing. With all the hype regarding this film, it's a very drab poster.

08.09.21

The new book cover for Frank Herbert's novel DUNE has been shared online. The image of Stellan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen really stands out.

There has been no official poster for the film as of yet and this image is only being used for tie-in promotional materials. As previously reported, following its premiere at the Venice Film festival, the film will be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival next month as a special event on an IMAX screen at the Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place. Director Denis Villeneuve will also be honored receiving the TIFF Ebert Director Award. Cameron Bailey, artistic director and co-head of TIFF, said, "Denis Villeneuve's many films are a testament to his boundless ability for authentic, passionate storytelling. There is no question Denis is an accomplished and outstanding filmmaker. It is wonderful to be celebrating his career at this time."

Both Denis and Stellan have expressed high regard for one another -

Denis; "As much as I deeply love the book, I felt that the baron was flirting very often with caricature. And I tried to bring him a bit more dimension. That’s why I brought in Stellan. Stellan has something in the eyes. You feel that there’s someone thinking, thinking, thinking - that has tension and is calculating inside, deep in the eyes. I can testify, it can be quite frightening."

Stellan: "I've always wanted to work with Denis partly because he’s such a wonderful man, but also because he’s a brilliant director. It’s fun when you get one of those big sci-fi movies and you know it’s going to be directed by a true filmmaker... What he’s really good at is creating this strange atmosphere with his imagery and this cinematic poetry that is his trademark and that adds so much richness to the pretty simple story... He is a lovely man to work with! It is so pleasant being on the set with him. There is no shouting, no misbehaving."

For those of you who want to view the film HOPE online, you can visit this link at Music Box Theatre and rent the film for $12. The Rotten Tomatometer gives the film a 98% rating and I would personally give it a 101% rating for the rich dialogue by director/writer Maria Sødahl and Stellan's impeccable performance.

I have only a couple criticisms - the lighting in the majority of the film is much too dark and actress Andrea Bræin Hovig's hair should have received more attention. Just because you've received a diagnosis of cancer doesn't mean you must look bedraggled.

 

 

   

 

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