SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2015 NEWS

10.25.15

A familiar face is among the portraits now being shown at the Martin Schoeller exhibition called "Up Close" at Fotografiska in Stockholm. The renowned American photographer has captured several famous faces, such as Hillary Clinton, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Quentin Tarantino and Lady Gaga. As seen in the photo below, Stellan's portrait hangs on the wall at about two square meters. I'm surprised Schoeller didn't do something more creative with our zany Swede but instead captured his "Swedishness". The exhibition will continue through February 7, 2016.

On the BBC blog website, Stellan once again discusses the RIVER series and his character. He says, "Like me, he doesnít sing karaoke. Or dance. But she [Stevie] makes him do it and she forces him to go outside of the shell that ties him down. And that is something great about when we meet someone who makes us become richer than we normally are. Itís fantastic...  But those singing and dancing scenes? I did not enjoy them. I was really embarrassed. But this profession is constant humiliation [laughs]. My entire organism revolts at the thought of doing karaoke. I canít do it. And Iím a bad singer."

From writer Abi Morgan and director Richard Laxton:

Abi:  When I wrote the first episode, I didnít know who was going to play River. But as soon as Stellan SkarsgŚrd came on board, I really started to write for him. Heís an extraordinary actor in terms of his range, and my concern with Riverís character was that an audience could be quite exhausted by it, because heís in every single scene. And when you put an actor under that much scrutiny, like us all, you see the tricks. But Stellan somehow doesnít have the tricks. I think itís because he comes into every
scene really fresh and ready to play with it.

Richard: Stellan as a man is incredibly compassionate, mischievous and opinionated, in the most lovely way. And I think that part of his nature means he can play that character. Because thereís no ego in that, he just wanted to do good work. He cared about it. But also his sound, and his look to a certain extent, he feels like someone who is different.

He is acutely intelligent, acutely funny and acutely instinctive about human nature. My challenge was to take the audience and put them in the top-pocket of a man who has a mental health problem. We both had a delight and fascination for Abi Morganís script. I knew how to get the story out of him, through the lens and on to the screen. We had a very sympathetic working relationship. We both understood what was needed and he was open to notes and direction. With many actors, they want to lean back into the arms of the director so they have the freedom to make a mistake. Stellan is a gift for a director.

10.14.15

Great news! Netflix has just announced that all six episodes of the new BBC series RIVER will be available starting November 18 in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, DACH, Benelux and the Nordics.

10.09.15

Our Swede is spending time in the UK this week doing press for the upcoming RIVER series. He's done several interviews with various media outlets. First off, let me give you the link for the full trailer, which has just been released. It premieres on BBC One on October 13.

Stellan readily admits it was award-winning British playwright and screenwriter Abi Morgan who first drew him to the coveted BBC One role. "She's a special writer," he says, "very poetic and not all linear in her storytelling." However, he did not just turn up and do as he was told.  He explains, "I would complain when I wasnít happy and weíd talk about it. I let everybody know exactly what I think about everything all the time. Sometimes she used what I said, sometimes not. But we havenít been co-writing. Sheís the writer. And sheís good."

His issue with most police dramas in the past was the procedural dialogue. He says, "Iím really bad at it. Itís more to do with my incompetence than anything bad with cop shows in general." He actually asked Morgan to write out the few procedural lines that were in the script. "Abi definitely has taken a new tack on how to deal with a cop show," he adds. "Sheís got all the ingredients - the buddy, the boss, the aging cop - but she kind of put them in a blender and made something totally different."

While some of the situations become comical and some are tragic, Stellan puts much of the show's focus down to human behavior, and "a lot of love for life". He adds, "I want the audience at home to be entertained in a different way; maybe they can find some fascination that they don't usually see."

The series was shot in East London but Stellan insists he hasn't picked up any Cockney slang. He says, "It's fun and an incredible culture, but it's hard to understand." By coincidence son Alexander was in town shooting "Tarzan" at the same time. Stellan says, "He was on such a strict diet that he would only have small portions every three hours, and then two in the days before he wrapped filming. He actually moved in with us, because he knew he would get food!"

Although he claims the six hours of "River" are "like a finished piece," Stellan is optioned for another series, but only so long as Morgan is writing. He says, "Iím not a serf to them, I still have my integrity intact."

And River could be followed by another TV series, this time with his long-standing collaborator Lars Von Trier, who last year revealed he was working on "The House That Jack Built", an eight-part series about a serial killer.

"Weíve talked about it and if he says letís go and play, Iíll come,Ē says Stellan. "I donít have to read it. I said yes to 'Nymphomaniac' before it was written." Von Trier, he says, hasnít yet written the series, but is working on it "off and on depending on how he feels."

And then thereís Stellan's ongoing less-arthouse appearances as scientist Erik Selvig in Marvelís increasingly interwoven franchises. His last appearance was in this year's "Avengers: Age of Ultron", in just a couple of brief scenes with Chris Hemsworthís Thor, but his superhero adventures may be drawing to a close.

"They have one more option on me. The contract was five films and Iíve ticked off four," he says. "So weíll see. I think theyíre making another Thor, so I might be in that. If they call, Iíll come."

10.06.15

BBC One's six-part crime series RIVER will be premiering in the UK on October 13th. Everyoneís favorite rumpled Swede, Stellan SkarsgŚrd brings his big-screen charisma to this new television drama. The List writes, "'River' is the boldest new UK crime series for many a year... Stellan SkarsgŚrd produces another hefty role in a CV forged by rank misery, with this one set up to explore big-hitting subjects such as mental illness, guilt and grief. His overall performance is aided and abetted by a wonderful face seemingly etched with innumerable traumas and tragedies in the line of Riverís duty." Check out the new 40-second trailer.

On signing up for his first role in a TV series, Stellan explained, "What attracted me to the script is that it didn't look like any other script I've read. I've turned down so many cop shows because there's too many of them and I can't do procedural lines. I can't say, 'Download the CCTV from the site and go through his bank accounts'. It doesn't fit in my mouth." He also admits, "I've always envied actresses because actresses get to show everything but actors don't. We're supposed to be manly, which means we hide everything and don't show feelings. Here, I've got a part that allows me to be an actor and an actress at the same time."

In an article in yesterday UK's Independent, Stellan terms his character's feelings of grief, depression, guilt, loneliness, hyper-sensitivity and suicidal thoughts "River Syndrome". "Heís an intelligent man,Ē he says, "but that doesnít mean he has full insight into whatís going on in his head. Heís not delusional, but heís having a real conversation with these people and learning from them as we do from our inner dialogues."

The DVD will be released in the UK on November 23, 2015. And hopefully this series will eventually cross the Atlantic because of its popularity.