SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2007 NEWS:

10.09.07:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)First production photos from the Norwegian media. Outdoor filming began last month on Skiathos and Skopelos, the two Greek islands chosen by the Littlestar and Playtone productions to re-incarnate the anonymous island where the musical, MAMMA MIA! takes place. This fairy-tale setting is where bride-to-be Sophia (Amanda Seyfried) gathers three ex-suitors of her tavern-owning mom, Donna (Meryl Streep), the better to learn which one is her father.

In a recent USA Today article, the play's creator, Judy Craymer, says, "Meryl obviously loves singing and was bursting to do it with various projects. We knew that she had seen the show because she wrote a letter to the Broadway cast five years ago. Now she gets to sing nine ABBA songs." The former James Bond never had the occasion to break into song in his 007 outings, although he warbled Irish folk tunes in 2002's Evelyn. Craymer assures, "He sings brilliantly. He does a sexy Springsteen-style thing." We'll have to wait until the premiere date of July to know how well our Swede can sing!

WAZ was screened at the Stiges International Film Festival in Spain yesterday with Tom Shankland in attendance. Finally we have an image of a poster! And check out several new photos from the film. During a press conference, the director commented on his intention to spin certain genre clichés, using violence as a context to explain a love story. In the same way, he exchanges the roles related to the profile of the customary psycho killer, contributing small sheens of regeneration to this type of cinema. WAZ was also screened in London at the Raindance Film Festival on September 28. Film critic James Merchant writes, "Skarsgård and George give compelling performances as the officers, who pushed to their limits, are forced into an unimaginable nightmare, while the supporting cast shows off familiar British actors... WAZ is a frightening piece of raw cinema. Dark, gritty, yet compulsive viewing, the film raises the bar in a genre difficult to permeate." And from Neil Young - "Skarsgård invests his chain-smoking character with a persuasively grave world-weariness; Belfast doubles unexpectedly convincingly for Manhattan, and there's a rather deft final 'twist' that concludes the bloody shenanigans on a reasonably effective and thought-provoking note." Also a review from Filmstalker - "I had no idea what to expect with this film, the thought that it might be a slick, polished Hollywood thriller was at the fore of my mind. What I found was something quite different. Something dark, edgier, far more clever than the typical Hollywood thriller I was expecting and definitely more uncomfortable. In short, something much better.... The partnership between the two leads is intriguing, and there's something about both actors on screen that pulls your attention to them." The film will open in Spain's theatres on November 30th. You can view the trailer at this link.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I thought this recent blurb about Stellan from wordpress.com was a bit amusing - "No one knows how many children Stellan Skarsgård has. Some speak of a legion of Nordic blondes raised entirely on arctic-chilled vodka; others guess six. There are few actors who have managed to balance international arthouse acclaim with Bruckheimer behemoths. Even fewer have done so and brought along a half-dozen kids for the ride. He is Sweden’s best-known actor working today and, according to buddy Paul Bettany – who named his first son after him – 'the all-time heavyweight vodka-drinking champion of the world.' But you might not be aware of just how varied Skarsgård’s career has been. He has survived, no fewer than three times, the bonkers directorial stylings of Lars von Trier; acted Pacino out of the water in the spectacular original version of 'Insomnia'; and endured six hours of make-up to play undead melancholic Bootstrap Bill in a couple of little films about pirates... Skarsgård remains unmistakably Scandinavian. He has played the younger version of fellow Swede Max von Sydow’s famously doomed character in 'The Exorcist' prequel, and now he’s set to pay homage to another of his homeland’s most famous exports, squeezing into some spandex flares for the big-screen version of Abba musical 'Mamma Mia!' What next? Ikea: The Movie? The Swedish Chef: A Biopic?"

9.18.07:

MAMMA MIA! writer, Catherine Johnson, has revealed that filming is going well. The ABBA musical is being directed by Phyllida Lloyd with Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson as executive producers. And if that bunch of A-listers weren't enough, Ms. Johnson adds, "It's fantastic casting, and the chemistry between them all is amazing. Everyone is having a good time and it really shows from the work that they're producing. They have tackled the singing and dancing with great gusto. People who you wouldn't have down as musical stars are coming out with these fantastic voices. It's great." After 10 weeks at Pinewood Studios outside of London, the production shifted to the picturesque isles of Greece in early September.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)In a recent interview, WAZ co-star Melissa George said the highlight of 2006 was working with Stellan. She says, "About two years ago I made a dream list of who I would most like to work with. There was Clive Owen, Sean Penn, Edward Norton, Al Pacino and Stellan Skarsgård. He’s an amazing actor. The first day of rehearsal he walked in and I looked at him and thought ‘My dreams have come true’. Stellan taught me don’t just deliver what’s in the script. Throw in 10 different emotions so the audience is thinking. Are they in love or is he going to kill her right now? Don’t just make it linear, add things. After working with Stellan, I feel that I’m really ready to take on better projects." Al Chambers of the British Federation of Film Societies (BFFS) reviewed the film - "WAZ is a nicely paced, tightly shot, delivers a few well-judged surprises, and benefits from a committed lead performance by Stellan Skarsgård."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I just came across a TV Guide video interview with Stellan that was done last summer regarding POTC: DEAD MAN'S CHEST. Enjoy!

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Colin Boyd of Bigpictureradio.com had some interesting comments about Stellan in his review of GOYA'S GHOSTS - "Skarsgård has always been an acquired taste, the sort of actor about whom people will comment, 'Well, he’s European…' But he’s really in his element here, and the film is strongest when Skarsgård is at work."