OCTOBER 2004 NEWS
I'm following this movie around the world! This weekend it will open in Norway, Finland
and Denmark but won't reach Sweden until next Friday. This photo, which I've never seen
before, is from today's copy of Norway's Aftenposten. As of 10/27,
EXORCIST has grossed almost $46 million
worldwide. Reviews from other countries haven't been any better, but do continue to have
the usual good words about Stellan's performance. From the Sydney Morning Herald
- "With Skarsgård's brooding presence and Storaro's manipulations of light and
shadow, you could almost be kidded into the illusion that you're being treated a film with
some pretensions to be taken seriously." From the Scotsman: "The young
Merrin is now played by the excellent Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård who gives the movie
an air of gravitas it frankly doesnt really merit." From the FFWD Weekly in
Calgary - "Skarsgård, one of the best film actors of our time, manages to invest his
cliché role - as a priest who has lost his faith - with as much dignity as
Here are some new photos -
Harlin's final cut above and Schrader's version below
might like to check out a two-minute interview with Stellan on the set of
EXORCIST, actually the first video interview I've found so far. You can view it via Media
Player or Real Player at the Brazilian cinema site -
Stellan discusses the storyline and then finishes with "Izabella Scorupco is a
Swedish actress and it's very nice because we have two Swedish actors and a Finnish
director... a very Scandinavian production in that sense. One thing is that there's no
hierarchy, no divas... A very equalitarian Swedish society... a Scandinavian society is
brought into this production that makes it very relaxed. Izabella Scorupco is a lovely
actress, really beautiful, and also very talented. It's a pleasure to work with her."
interested, there are five film clips available through yahoo. Click on the scene links
quote on nudity:
"Being naked is no problem. I was born that way."
Filming for DOWNLOADING
NANCY had originally been slated to begin next month in Germany. However, co-star
Holly Hunter is reincarnating her Hester Swane role in By the Bog of Cats
previously performed in 2001 at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. She will make her West End
debut in London on November 19th. Filming has therefore been postponed until April 2005.
Commercial and music helmer Johan Renck is making his feature film directorial debut and
hopefully the original cast will be available six months from now. Holly plays the central
character Nancy, who is in an unhappy marriage with Louis, played by William Hurt. She
cannot bring herself to commit suicide, so she gets creative and goes on the Internet
where she meets a man named Albert, played by Stellan. She hires him to kill her, but
their relationship begins to become complicated by their attraction to one another. Sounds
Jon Gustafsson, webmaster at the Beowulf
and Grendel official site, emailed me this evening reporting that Stellan
has now completed his part in the production. Jon went on to say that Stellan "was
fantastic to work with and fantastic to get to know and chat with. We are all very
impressed with him." Stellan is indeed back home in Sweden and very happy to be
eating his own food again. (Remember he likes to cook) He admits that the menu could
sometimes be a challenge on the Iceland shoot. It included smoked puffin, raw whale,
rotten shark and pickled sheep testicles! Director Sturla Gunnarsson previously reported
that they had wanted to film in July and August, but when scheduling was pushed to
September, they weren't expecting such harsh conditions. Stellan confirms this with "Weather
was tough. We had a couple of hurricanes when we couldnt shoot, too many rocks and
debris flying around smashing up cars and blowing away sets, but we still worked in rain,
winds around 100km, and I once saw Eddie Marsan being picked up from his mark by the wind
and blown straight at me." All in all, though, Stellan says he "had a lot of fun
playing Hrothgar, such a large character... Decided early on that Overacting wasn't
possible." (I just saw Eddie Marsan in 21 Grams last night - great film!)
Eddie Marsan, in the role of Brendan in
BEOWULF AND GRENDEL,
gave an interview at the
site offering some ennobling remarks about Stellan. "He was one of the
reasons I wanted to do the film because he was playing the king and I knew I'd be working
with him. He led by example in the movie by the way he embraced everything. You could come
here having never been to Iceland before and just complain about how difficult it is to
make a movie because it's so cold and we're playing Vikings and medieval people. Stellan
was the complete opposite. He said, 'Whatever is there, you've got to go with it.' He is a
very, very open and brave actor. I was a bit starstruck..." It is rumored that Sturla
would like to have the film ready by May to present it at the Cannes Film Festival. Five
of Stellan's films have been shown at Cannes - The Serpent's Way, The Women
on the Roof,
the Waves and Dogville. Here are a couple pics I just found that were
taken at Cannes last year. I believe the man with Stellan is Sam Klebanov, who operates
Russian label Films Without Frontiers.
latest interview published October 8th was conducted via telephone between Iceland and
Singapore. While making his next film, Stellan still took a moment to publicize
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING. After discovering there would
be re-shoots in Schrader's original version, Stellan admitted, "I hate re-shoots.
It's like having sex with a corpse." When further questioned about his two oldest
sons entering the film business, he said, "I never interfere in their career choices.
By the age of 16, your children should be able to take care of themselves and make their
own decisions. They also know the business. Fortunately, they're very talented." I've
just posted some
comments from Gustaf about
becoming an actor, as well as a new page in the "Images" section called "Skarsgård Children".
This site was
launched on June 13, 2004 with TWO pages. As of today, there are 75 pages, and many more
for fans in the US and Canada! The DVD of
will be released on December 21, 2004 (You can pre-order now at Amazon.com). It is the
director's cut - unrated and extended version. The DVD will include a commentary by
director Antoine Fuqua, an alternate ending, deleted scenes, Making of the Epic, Round
Table Video Commentary with cast and filmmakers, photo gallery, and 15 minutes of added
footage, which includes more intense battle sequences and the scenes "Rain and
Snow" and "Saxons Surrounded."
another new photo from
EXORCIST that just
cropped up on one of the cinema web sites in Japan, where it will be opening tomorrow.
Worldwide gross as of 10/13 was 44.3 million. [Rumor has it that Warner Home Video will
release the DVD on January 4th] It actually opens in Iceland today, but don't expect
Stellan to be at the cinema. According to the latest video interview,
BEOWULF director Sturla Gunnarsson feels that not
all actors would be willing to commit to this sort of film working in such an isolated
environment and sometimes under harsh conditions, but that's the kind of cast he has. The
director himself finds this adventure challenging and the elements most inspiring. In the
video interview that Sturla gives, he relates an amusing story of how Stellan the King
came onto the set ready to start shooting his scene despite the gale winds and the
desire of the filmmakers to shut down production that day.
continues to amass more information and yes, photos. There is now an image page for the
2003 Cannes Film Festival, as well as one for the 2002 Karlovy Vary International Film
Festival, and the European Film Awards. It was in 1998 that Stellan received recognition
for his performance in both Amistad and Good Will Hunting by receiving
an award for European Achievement in World Cinema, beating out Antonio Banderas, Pierce
Brosnan, Gerard Depardieu, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. But ironically when he was
nominated by the European Film Academy two years later for Aberdeen, he lost!
Such a powerful performance, one of his best. There's also a new film page for
GLASBLÅSARNS BARN (The Glassblower's Children),
a charming fairy tale based on Maria Gripe's book. It was received favorably at
several film festivals from 1998 to 2000 for its "magical realism". And
the last addition is a new page for the beautiful and touching Lars von Trier film,
BREAKING THE WAVES (1996), in which Stellan was
first widely introduced to American audiences, and the rest is history...
Stellan quote on his
"It takes a long time to make me beautiful, but it goes fast to make me ugly."
10.12.04: Beowulf & Grendel Update from the Director -
"The stormy south coast of Iceland has been particularly dramatic
this fall. We've had 160 plus kilometer an hour winds that took the roofs off local hotels
and blew cars off the roads, and well as driving rain and huge seas. Overall, it's been
quite difficult to work in but the resulting images are spectacular. So far, we've only
stopped production for one day when the winds were gusting at 180K and there were concerns
that our glorious mead hall was going to simply blow away. For the actors it's
been difficult, but on a certain level very rewarding. When the elements become
such a powerful character in your scene, it eliminates all preconceptions and forces them
to simply be in the moment. That is, after all, the kind of characters we're dealing with
in the story - people who survive and thrive in an extreme environment."
Finally we get a close-up of Stellan outfitted in a couple of his costumes
for his role of Hrothgar. That chain mail armor doesn't look very
comfortable, probably heavy, but bound to keep another warrior's sword at bay! With his
stature and height, he carries himself well as a chieftain warrior, as we witnessed in
King Arthur. He can be very menacing with or without his leather trappings.
Hope you've had
the time to view the beautiful costumes at the
B&G official web site. Everything looks gorgeous from their helmets and fur capes to their
embroidered robes. This is a costume designer's dream to create this film's wardrobe!
Director Sturla Gunnarsson took a moment today to post this message - "The shoot is crazy-tough. 160K winds, horizontal rain, our base camps
blown halfway across the country. But beautiful dailies, great performances from Gerrie,
Stellan, Sarah, Ingvar and the whole incredible cast, plus the unscripted and overwhelming
character in every scene - the elements." In an interview co-star Sarah Polley
said, I find that the environment on the set is collectively probably the hardest
that I've ever seen people have to work in ." I'm sure Stellan is enduring as usual.
Stellan paper dolls!
Issued in conjunction with his 1968 Swedish TV mini-series
"Bombit Bitt och jag"
There seems to
be no end to the publicity of
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING
as it journeys worldwide. In the past week the film has generated another million
overseas. It's playing in Singapore with similar reviews. The Straits Times
reports that "Skarsgård is reliably watchable, which only reinforces the regret over
what might have been had this actor been handed a script worthy of his talents." Amen
to that. And Singapore's Electric New Paper states that "the always terrific
Skarsgård is the only cast member who brings dignity and conviction to the film,
effortlessly capturing the torment of his personal demons and crisis of faith... Also
stunningly shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro." On Thursday it
opened in Argentina with a new poster. Critic Hugo Zapata of Cines Argentinos
says that "the choice of Sweden's Stellan Skarsgård as Merrin is perfect because
beyond being a great actor, he looks enough like Max Von Sydow, and his work is really
Here's the first image
of Stellan from
BEOWULF and GRENDEL! At the
official web site, you can view the video clip
showing the scene where King Hrothgar and his warriors chase Grendel's father. I came
across an article from Canada.com that had some interesting comments regarding the film -
"Iceland remains an undiscovered, untapped and unspoiled gem. And the perfect
backdrop for an Icelandic-Canadian film director shooting an epic film about an epic
tale. Director Sturla Gunnarsson says, 'We really have three different kinds of
film-making cultures between Iceland, the UK and Canada, but it's working. I think that
this will be the first film made entirely in Iceland to reach a mass market. And I think
that will have a huge impact on Iceland when the people see these phenomenal landscapes,
and the kind of spiritual energy that you feel here.'" What's interesting to me is
that the article then discusses Baltazar Kormákur's first English language film, A
Trip to Heaven, which he is now being shot in Iceland and, coincidentally, stars
actor Peter Coyote (whose
official web site
I also created). On a personal note, I highly recommend the following Icelandic films -
Kormákur's The Sea (2002), a tragicomic family saga, and then a strange but
beautiful film called Cold Fever (1995).
More additions to this site.
Judith Pfaff of Germany kindly translated another
interview, which took place back in 1999 when Deep Blue Sea was
released. Though Stellan claims to be lazy by nature, he certainly worked hard doing four
films in a little over a year! Besides Deep Blue Sea, he also starred in the
enigmatic Signs and Wonders, the dreamy
of Mind, and the powerful road movie, Aberdeen. And what a performance.
It's not surprising that he was looking forward to having some time off.
EXORCIST has reached a worldwide gross of $42.5
million, about half of their $80-90 million production budget. Its major European release
will come at the end of this month, and that'll be interesting to monitor. I'm sure the
upcoming reviews will continue to include the highest regard for Stellan's performance.
Click on the film poster and you'll see that it's actually the original one designed for
Paul Schrader's version. Frankly, I prefer this poster to the dull gray one. I hope when
they release the DVD, the producers remember how Stellan dignified this film, ultimately
putting him on the front cover!