exorcist4a.jpg (24100 bytes)The EXORCIST gross total at the U.S. box office is at $41.1 million as of today, not bad for a film that was unsparingly panned. I just came across an interview that co-producer Wayne Morris gave Dark Horizons regarding Billy Crawford and Stellan in the Schrader version. Morris states - "As everyone knows, we started with a different actor (Liam Neeson) and when Stellan came on, he had some very good, strong thoughts on the script and the approach to Merrin and tying it into the other story. Stellan came on just slightly after Paul did and he certainly was a great influence on the storyline. With Billy Crawford playing such a significant role in the picture (Billy is incredibly well-known, especially in France, as a singer and a pop star), we weren't sure just how strong and consistent Billy would be. I was actually at the screen test that John Frankenheimer did with Billy, and John saw a lot of promise... Billy has been incredible and he has taken Stellan on as a mentor, and Stellan has taken him not as a student, but as a fellow actor, who is willing to put in the time and dedication. If you watch the two of them, even after we shoot two masters and three pieces of coverage, while the crew is doing the set-up, they'll be outside still working on the scene. So, it constantly evolves. Even after you shot the master, it evolves to what would make this better and so forth. Largely, that's Stellan's influence and certainly Paul Schrader's influence, and it's just a very happy team of actors."

The picture heading the last paragraph shows Stellan with Billy Crawford and Clara Bellar, his original co-stars. Not sure I dig those shorts with knee socks! The photos below are from Schrader's production showing Stellan preparing for the Holocaust scene. Notice how he seems to be pacing. In regard to his role in Breaking the Waves, he once said, "Spending two weeks on my back in bed was an awful experience for me, because as an actor, I need to neurotically pace up and down all the time."

Stellan comments on this particular scene - "This is the very beginning of the film. It takes place in Holland towards the end of the war. It's a very cruel scene. It's nice to shoot it now when you know what it's going to lead to... I prefer shooting chronologically, but you never do that. It's good not to start with the most difficult or emotional scenes. You always want a slow start and gradually warm up...actually you want it to be slow and easy all the time, but it never is (laughs) because I'm naturally lazy."

When Paul Schrader was interviewed during filming, he revealed it was "fortuitous to have the best Swedish actor of his generation playing a role created by the best Swedish actor of his father's generation." When asked how much Max Von Sydow's performance would affect the role of the younger Merrin, he said, "You'll have to ask Stellan... He has been on stage with Max. He knows Max."  (Read Stellan's interview)

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I've been told that Stellan's scenes in BEOWULF AND GRENDEL will begin shooting tomorrow! That means we'll be seeing some photos of him as King Hrothgar very soon. Scriptwriter Andrew Rai Berzins notes that when Stellan's character Hrothgar is referred to as a "king", he's really talking about a tribal chieftan. (Cerdic comes to mind) Andrew has gone along with "king" because he's sticking to Germanic rooted (Norse origin) words as opposed to the Old French/Latin rooted "chieftan".


button_box.gif (205 bytes)About three years ago, another New Yorker obviously admired the talents of our Swedish actor enough to create  a web site -, which has since been closed down. During that time, some questions from fans around the world were presented to Stellan, who kindly answered them. I've now edited and posted some of those Q&A's, which will reveal his surprisingly down-to-earth attitude and good humor as well.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING moves into its sixth week in theatres; of course, it's getting out of the suburbs now and playing sporadically around the country in major cities. The film entered the international area last week starting in the Philippines, earning about $220,000 in its opening weekend. earning. The Manila Times echoed the sentiments of many critics with "Stellan Skarsgård ably steps into the shoes of Max Von Sydow as the young Merrin and he makes the film seem more distinguished than it actually is."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Here's an amusing KING ARTHUR comment from the Budapest Sun - ""Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård plays the Saxon leader very convincingly, adorned with a blond wig that would make any Metallica fan hot with desire."  

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Stellan Quote on stardom:
"I try to make the movies I enjoy most. I don't want to be a star; I want to remain an actor."


button_box.gif (205 bytes)As of today, EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING has grossed $40.3 million, and is entering its fifth week in theatres, though the number of screens has been considerably reduced. It'll be interesting to see how much revenue the film will generate overseas when it opens in many European countries in October and November.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)This web site is a little older than three months and has grown to over 50 pages! There are now 12 individual movie pages that can be linked from the filmography section. Newly added are a couple more pages in the Images section, more interviews in the Press section, including one that had to be translated, so our thanks go to Judith Pfaff of Germany. Three new film pages have been completed - PASSION OF MIND, HARRY OCH SONJA, and ZERO KELVIN.

zerokelvin19a.jpg (20641 bytes)The reviews on Passion of Mind were not favorable, though the cast generally received good marks. It's interesting to me how one reviewer can compare Stellan's sex appeal to dried figs, while someone like Liz Braun of the Toronto Sun is thrilled that his "wonderfully dissolute face is finally being appreciated by filmmakers as the gal bait it truly is." (Applause) When it comes to Zero Kelvin, I can't say enough. For me it is a triumphant work of art in the way that Stellan so masterfully creates this multi-layered, bullying personality so beyond his true self that he's actually unrecognizable as far as I'm concerned. He's full of menace, and you're begging Larsen to shoot him, but then the devilish swine somehow manages to twist your sympathies and you're willing to offer forgiveness in a weak moment. Playing the crude, foul-mouthed Randbaek, Stellan admits, "I really enjoyed it because it's so nice to play such an asshole." Of course, filming in such an isolated environment was a challenge as well. Stellan's comments are funny - "It was closer to the North Pole than to a hospital. Or a good Italian restaurant. The Italian restaurant was the big problem."


eiffeltornet2s.jpg (17153 bytes)button_box.gif (205 bytes)There's a new film to add to Stellan's filmography. Last year he was cast in a short film called EIFFELTORNET (aka Eiffel Tower), which also starred one of his favorites, Pernilla August. Directed by Niklas Rådström, this 13-minute film has made its way around the film festival circuit this year - Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Poland, and this month, it will be screened in both Iceland and the USA. Though it brought home the top prize for Best Short Film at the Göteborg Film Festival in January, it does sound like a very strange story. One Sunday morning Jacob, a middle aged man, tries to tell his wife about a dream he had during the night. The city had its usual French charm, but the only thing he could think about was that the Eiffel Tower was nowhere to be seen. The poster is very odd as well. [that sure doesn't look like Stellan, but who else would it be?] A bit of trivia - back in 1985 Stellan was Hamlet to Pernilla August's Ophelia in a Swedish TV production of the Shakespeare classic. Great Stellan line in The Glass House - "Hamlet... don't you hate how he can't make up his mind."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I've posted the BEOWULF AND GRENDEL movie page to the site. As production info comes in, I'll keep updating the page. Stellan comments that he's "having a good time in Iceland with good people." Director Sturla Gunnarsson has indicated that the first week of filming "was tough but wonderful." They have just started their second week and will be doing the Beowulf and Selma scenes. He goes on to say that "the landscape is powerful and governs the tone of every scene."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)A reminder that Part I of HELEN OF TROY will be on in two days - September 16 on A&E. Stellan's scenes are only in the first part, so program your Tivo or VCR today. Film critic John Ruch of the Boston Herald notes that "while most of the Greeks are British, Skarsgård snarls in some kind of Beowulf-inflected English dialect." Is this man prophetic or what?


scanorama904s.jpg (26694 bytes)If you happen to be traveling via the Scandinavian airlines SAS, you'll probably come across this courtesy magazine. This month Scanorama has Stellan on its cover with the title "Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård chilling in a limo on Lidingö outside Stockholm." It goes on to say that he "is as close as Sweden comes to an A-list-Hollywood actor. Yet, he is surprisingly mellow about the whole deal, regularly blowing proceeds by bringing his family along on shoots." I don't know how much of his family travels with Stellan these days now that his two older sons, Alexander (28) and Gustaf (24) have film careers of their own. But he certainly has enjoyed a reputation for taking along his wife, six children, sometimes a mother-in-law and even friends. Dogville co-star Paul Bettany says, "I would love six children. The Skarsgård way, as I call it... They all travel around with him. And it's wonderful. They have a hell of a life." [Last year Bettany named his first son "Stellan"] The photo below, published in Sweden's Aftonbladet, was taken four years ago and shows some of the family. That's his wife My cuddling with Sam, and his only daughter Eija is sitting in front of Gustaf, and Alexander is in the front row with his Dad. Missing from the photo are Bill and Valter.

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At eight years old, Alexander made his screen debut in the 1984 Åke och hans värld, one of his father's films. Three years later, wife My and son Sam starred alongside Dad in Jim & piraterna Blom, with the film's screenplay co-written by Stellan. Then, in 1989 at the age of 9, Gustaf entered the film scene in Täcknamn Coq Rouge (1989) in which Stellan plays Swedish secret agent Carl Hamilton. Bill followed with his 2000 debut in Järngänget, also starring big brother Alexander. Valter's first screen performance is described under the 9/10/04 update below. The question is if and when 12-year-old Eija will be bitten by the acting bug as well.

hrothgar1.jpg (23424 bytes)button_box.gif (205 bytes)According to a September 5th posting by the director of BEOWULF AND GRENDEL, filming was to begin the next day. Though August 30th had been the target date, Sturla Gunnarsson explains that "the delays had mainly to do with the logistics of mounting the production, and we are currently waiting to see if we'll begin tomorrow with our Plan A, which is the Geats travelling through an eerie iceberg passage in a Viking ship. Prepping the ship is a little behind schedule and we may have to move to Plan B tomorrow to give the ship's captain a little more time to get the ship ready. Either way, we begin filming tomorrow." As Stellan impressed audiences with his role as the Saxon chief in King Arthur, he will ultimately bring that same intelligence, imposing strength and commanding screen presence to King Hrothgar. From Beowulf - "After Hrothgar became king, he won many battles: his friends and family willingly obeyed him; his childhood friends became famous soldiers. So Hrothgar decided he would build a mead-hall, the greatest the world had ever seen, or even imagined. There he would share out to young and old alike all that God gave him."


attdodaettbarnpt1a.jpg (22224 bytes)button_box.gif (205 bytes)Now in its fourth week EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING remains in theatres across the country. That's good news for the filmmakers. There are some new additions to this site in the press and image sections. Included is a brief article about Stellan dated January 2000 by Swedish journalist, Stina Lundberg. She ponders the question - "Will we lose him completely to Hollywood, the glamour and breathtaking salaries? Or is Stellan this down-to-earth guy he pretends to be and will choose Sweden, after all?" Four years later, he's obviously quite grounded and still enjoying family life in his native country. In fact, last year a Skarsgård family project came to the big screen at many film festivals. An 8-minute short film called ATT DÖDA ETT BARN (To Kill a Child) was co-directed by his oldest son, Alexander, starred his youngest son, Valter, and was narrated by Stellan. It won the Grand Prize at the 2003 Odense Film Festival in Denmark. Be sure to follow the link for info and photos.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Stellan Quote - Hollywood vs. Sweden
"In Hollywood, you've got work around you all the time. You can't get a taxi without the driver handing you a script. Where I live [in Sweden], people still read books that can't be made into film."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Update on GOAL trilogy - Stellan has left the Diego Luna soccer production with the absence of director Michael Winterbottom.


exorcist23a.jpg (16388 bytes)EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING begins its third week in theatres. California's Milpitas Post had some interesting comments on the film and Stellan - "Stellan Skarsgård, as anyone who's seen the original Insomnia or Ronin knows, is a phenomenal actor, and his portrayal of the world-weary Merrin is spot-on. He gives Merrin real force of personality and makes it believable that he might turn out to be the powerful exorcist of the original film... Furthermore, the film is beautifully shot... Merrin's initial descent into the church is a rhapsody of light and darkness, and one can only mourn the fact that the rest of the film was not up to the par of the visuals."

helenoftroy2a.jpg (17930 bytes)button_box.gif (205 bytes)In April 2003 the USA network premiered the mini-series, HELEN OF TROY, starring Rufus Sewell, Sienna Guillory, Matthew Marsden, James Callis, John Rhys-Davies and, of course, our very own Stellan. If you haven't rented or bought the DVD, you can catch it on A&E this month. It will be shown in two parts on September 16 and 22. Inspired by Homer's Iliad, the story depicts the famous battle fought to win the love of the woman who launched a thousand ships. Stellan, who plays the gallant Theseus, King of Athens, lends mythic stature to this legendary warrior.

dinard2001ff3a.jpg (13985 bytes) Back in the spring of 2000, Stellan played comic in a little film with Chris Penn and Paul Bettany called KISS KISS (BANG BANG) directed by Britisher Stewart Sugg. It didn't go much further than the film festival circuit, and then was released on DVD and video throughout Europe and Japan. It actually became quite a hit in Japan with T-shirts and buttons being sold.  I haven't personally seen the film yet, though I have a copy sitting here that needs to be converted to Region 1 format. Anyway, there's an interview online via Real Player at the Dinard British Film Festival site. You can also read the transcript. It's short, but interesting - Stewart introduces the film and then Stellan discusses his role. I love it when he says, "I want to be funny as well as sad and dark and serious. I don't want to be serious and taken serious all the time."

perfectmurder1a.jpg (26393 bytes)Odyssey Quest has announced the UK DVD release of the THE PERFECT MURDER. (With thanks to Ruth Mitchell of England for this news) Stellan stars in this 1988 high-spirited comic mystery set in Bombay, based on one of British writer H.R.F. Keating's series of novels featuring his character Inspector Ghote. When a servant is nearly murdered in his employer's home, Inspector Ghote (Naseeruddin Shah) is alternately assisted and pestered by Swedish criminologist Axel Svensson (Stellan). While investigating the attempted homicide, they also unravel a diamond-smuggling caper. TV Guide says, "Light, lively, and good fun, this English-language mystery-comedy set in India could be called a Lethal Weapon for movie lovers who relish witty wordplay over gunplay". This film is being released as part of a Merchant Ivory Collection on September 6. Though Ivory was executive producer arranging financing and distribution, he had little part in the actual shooting of the film. The Perfect Murder premiered at the Angelika Film Center in NY on March 1990. Remember this DVD is being released in Region 2 format. If you live in the US or Canada, you will need to convert it to Region 1 format unless you own a multi-region DVD player.   

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button_box.gif (205 bytes)Adapted from the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, Beowulf, BEOWULF & GRENDEL is a medieval adventure that tells the tale of a Norse warrior's battle against the great and murderous troll, Grendel, and within this tale lies vengeance, loyalty and mercy. The cast is led by Scottish actor Gerard Butler as Beowulf and Icelandic actor Ingvar Sigurdsson as Grendel. Helmed by Icelandic-Canadian director Sturla Gunnarsson and written by Andrew Berzins, this saga will begin filming in Iceland on August 30th. 

Principal photography will take place on the south coast of Iceland in areas that have remained unchanged for a thousand years. Filming is scheduled to last 10 weeks, for the most part in Höfn and Vík. Some of the sets include real glaciers, a specially-built 6th century village and a replica of a Viking ship. Gunnarsson hopes to have the film ready to premiere at next year’s Cannes Film Festival.