NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NEWS 2010:

12.31.10:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Many believe that David Fincher's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO  is unnecessary given the recent worldwide success of the original Swedish trilogy of movies, even if Fincher and the others involved - including Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara - are doubtlessly talented in their own right. You can count me among this group. However, Stellan argues that Fincher’s remake isn’t a needless effort at all.

“I’m not always happy when Hollywood does remakes of films, but that’s usually when they have a very, very, very good film and they take away anything controversial from it and make it flatter. I don’t think that will be the case here. David Fincher is a fantastic director and Steve Zaillian is a great writer. I have hopes that it will be an improvement.” He went on to praise the work of his Dragon Tattoo co-stars, particularly Rooney Mara as she takes over Noomi Rapace’s iconic role of Lisbeth Salander. “I’m convinced she can take it on,” he said. “I’ve only had a few very short encounters with her. Most of my scenes are with Daniel Craig. But, I think she’s good enough. I think Noomi Rapace was fantastic, and this is another kind of Lisbeth Salander. I think [Rooney Mara] will do something beautiful with it.” Frankly, I think the only improvement would be the ability to watch the film without reading subtitles.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment released the official trailer for THOR earlier this month. Kenneth Branagh reveals he took on the job of directing the forthcoming superhero movie because it reminded him of the works of the greatest English playwright.  The actor/director, best known for his adaptations of Shakespearean plays, says, "I read the script and saw an epic adventure with human dynamics at the center, which for me is what really works in comics. I looked at the relationships and saw brothers, mother, father and sons: the tight royal circle. When you get down to it, this is pure Shakespeare. It's a great drama about familial problems concerning those who possess great power."  In a recent interview, Stellan explained why he took on the project - "I chose 'Thor' because of Kenneth Branagh. The script was nice and we got to rehearse and talk to the writers and do some collaborating in the process to make it fit us." Read more of this interview here.

In another interview our Swede was asked what it was like working on the "Thor" set. He responded, "I had a great time. I also had a great director there. Kenneth Branagh is one of the funniest directors on the set. You laugh a lot. He’s very skillful. We were also allowed to have rehearsals before we started, and we would discuss the dialogue and change the scenes. It felt like you were invited to a very nice collaboration... I was not familiar with the Thor comics at all when I started but Kenneth gave me comic books and stuff and educated me."

Which poster do you think should win out? I personally favor #1 and #5.

12.17.10:

There's good news for Stellan this week. Co-star Halle Berry received a Golden Globe nomination for her lead role in the psychological drama, FRANKIE & ALICE. This now gives the film more credibility along with putting Stellan's name in the limelight.  Ms. Berry reacted with, "This movie a month ago was on the shelf. We got a distributor at the 11th hour. This nomination means that we can open in a big way. We might actually have foreign distribution now. That's what this kind of thing means to me."  The Hollywood Reporter lauded the film, with praise for Berry, Skarsgård, Rashad and the director: “Berry is spellbinding as Frankie…Sax’s astute guidance and the intelligent, nuanced performances of Berry and Skarsgård…the supporting performances are rock-solid." Ms. Berry previously won an Oscar for "Monster's  Ball" in 2001.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)The premiere of  KING OF BASTØY took place on December 15th at the Colosseum Cinema in Oslo with Stellan and wife Megan in attendance. The film opened today in Norwegian theaters and its rights have already been sold to several European countries. You can view a video clip of the premiere at this link and also another interview about the film at this link.

Stellan gave several interviews to the Norwegian media while promoting the film this week. Much of the reason he agreed to participate in this project was because of director Marius Holst's decision to cast his film with young boys with little acting experience. Stellan explained, "I've wanted to work with Marius for some time. I've known him for many years. The last script I received a little over a year ago was a really good film. Marius chose to work with mainly amateurs and I thought it was very exciting." He adds, "Several of the boys have lived a rather hard life, and it makes them that much more genuine in what they do in front of the camera. For me, it's a challenge to create the same feeling of authenticty that they do... It's very good to play with inexperienced people. Unlike theater, amateurs are often better than professionals on film. The only deciding factor is the pressure, gravity and veracity. Dedication, not skill, is what determines the end."


Stellan on location with director Marius Holst

Apparently the film's star, star Benjamin Helstad, was still in drama school when he was offered the role. The school's rules dictate that during the year of training, a student is not allowed to take advantage of any acting opportunities outside the school. When presented with this dilemma, Helstad naturally opted for the film. Stellan's response was, "What a silly rule! You get your chance of a lifetime but you have to sit in school and listen to what teachers are saying? It's completely bizarre!  I have never heard of anything so fucking stupid!" Helstad has since entered his theater training for a second time but admits it was hard auditioning again. A second audition?? You gotta be kidding!

Besides accepting the role, Stellan decided to invest some of his money in the film as well. Therefore, you will see his name listed as executive producer. He admits, "I don't think I will get rich from it, but I do this often with smaller films. Commenting on his role as schoolmaster in the film, Stellan said, "The challenge was to find a balance where I could be awful enough without losing the humanity in the character. Bastøy was dysfunctional not because of the manager's evil, but because of the system."

In regard to his other proejcts, Stellan was asked if it was scary to perform in a new version of the Stieg Larsson thriller right after its foreign release. He answered, "I don't see it that way. For me, it's a new movie and a role I'm doing for the first time... Usually Hollywood will weaken the action of a European film remake by making it less dangerous but, in this case, I think it is quite the opposite." He will play the role of villain Martin Vanger, who was played by Peter Haber in the original. Note the resemblance. Stellan hopes to live up to that Haber's performance.Always on the move, he will be spending Christmas in Los Angeles where filming will continue.

When questioned about eldest son Alexander being a candidate for the role of Thor Heyerdahl in the forthcoming effort, "Kon-Tiki", Stellan had little to say but when he was informed the lead actor must speak Norwegian, he replied, "He (Alex) learned the American accent in a short time, but Norwegian is a difficult language. There are certainly many Norwegian actors who can fit the role."

Stellan was again quizzed about why he's been doing Norwegian films to which he replied, "One reason has been Hans Petter Moland, who has given me some of the best roles in my career. There has been interesting material and very exciting roles. I don't care about the nationality of the projects I do. In Sweden they have not come up with something interesting. The Danes have. The most important thing for me is the project... There are a lot of good Norwegian actors I've worked with many times and they beat most in Hollywood. I personally wish it was a little warmer in Norway, but the human world is fine here."

And according to Stellan, Scandinavia is "the best place on earth" and that is why he still chooses to live in his native Sweden. "I live in Sweden all the time. I've never lived anywhere else. My whole family, family and friends are here. But it's also because I think Scandinavia, for now, is the best place on earth. We have high taxes but free schools and hospitals. It is an unselfish society." He admits he's not so happy with the glamor life in Hollywood - "It doesn't suit me. It's more about the job. It's much quieter over here, more relaxation and less hierarchical." He tells the press that he plans to work as long as possible and that he has no desire to retire. "I'll hold on until I die, but it could be tomorrow for all I know. I've never planned my career. It's difficult to plan your life. I am surprised all the time," he chuckles.

11.19.10:

On November 14th the 24th Braunschweig International Film Festival honored Stellan with the "European Actors Award". He received the award for his outstanding artistic performances and contribution to European film culture. The prize money of 10,000 Euros is donated by the festival's main sponsor, Volkswagen Financial Services AG. The laudatory speech was given by Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland, whose film, A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN, opened the film festival on November 9th. Stellan was honored with a retrospective of the following films, "Breaking the Waves", "Signs & Wonders", "God Afton, Herr Wallenberg", "Mamma Mia", "Goya's Ghosts", "Taking Sides", "Aberdeen", "The Eiffel Tower", and "Torte Bluma".

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Just to set the record straight, those dime-a-dozen celeb sites should show a little respect and quit the hype. Alexander should be referred to as the son of Stellan Skarsgård. Aren't you tired of Stellan being called Alexander's dad as if Alexander is the one with the 38-year acting career! It's obvious who's riding on whose coattails.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)I've added more photos to the Cannes 2010 page and the Venice 2009 page.

Stellan was recently interviewed at the 2010 Nordic Film Days in Lubeck, Germany.  Read the full interview here and check out the photos. On the question of his favorite roles, he answered, "There are about ten films, which I particularly like. None of them are absolutely perfect but there are some characters that are remembered in the long term. Hans Petter Moland has given me three of the best roles of my life - the really evil guy in "Zero Kelvin", the alcohol-dependent father in "Aberdeen" and the role in "A Somwhat Gentle Man". They were all close to my heart. Well, so was the character in "A Simple-Minded Murderer" for which I received the Berlin prize in 1982. There are also other movies that I like. "Breaking the Waves", for example, which I'm proud of. Also, "Good Will Hunting", "Insomnia" and "Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg". Most of the films that I look back to proudly are European productions. The more money involved, the less brave the filmmaker. The more money put into a project, the more input from the financers.

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Reporter Anna Lindberg of Stockholm spent some time with Stellan last month and put together a brief interview with the famous Swede. It's heartwarming to come across a contented man. Stellan explains, "I think I've had an incredible life. Sometimes it has been difficult and painful, as it should. There is no man I envy and whose life I would rather have lived." We also learn that his hidden talent as a good cook is enhanced by the fact that he has a keen sense of smell.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)On November 17, FRANKIE & ALICE had a special screening in New York City. No, Stellan did not attend, but plenty of Halle Berry's friends were there. The film will open in both NY and LA on December 17th before its regular theatrical release on February 14th. The psychological drama is based on the harrowing true story of Frankie Murdoch, a woman suffering with multiple personality disorder in early 1970s Los Angeles. In anticipation of the release of the film, AFI Fest 2010 featured a "Conversation on Acting with Halle Berry" on November 9th at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. "Bringing this story to the big screen has been a challenging, yet very satisfying, filmmaking experience," stated Halle. Producer Vincent Cirrincione stated, "We are thrilled to have this film finished, completed and ready for release. 'Frankie & Alice' was a real labor of love for Halle and me, and we look forward to sharing this very personal and gripping true story with audiences." You can click on the photo below to view a clip in which Stellan as Dr. Oz speaks with his patient.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Stellan presented Gus Van Sant with the Visionary Award at the Stockholm International Festival on November 20th. You might remember that one of Stellan's more famous American roles was in "Good Will Hunting", directed by the talented director. Holly Hunter also read a tribute to Van Sant.

11.02.10:

Here's an update from Dagbladet on Stellan's latest film, KING OF BASTØY, which will see its premiere in Norway on December 17th. As reported back in May, producers were in Cannes promoting the film with twenty minutes of footage showing four scenes. Its international title is "King of Devil's Island". According to director Marius Holst, there are high expectations with the release of this blockbuster starring Stellan, Kristoffer Joner and Benjamin Helstad. The action is based on events from real life, where dozens of boys between 10 and 20 years rebelled at the prison-like school at home in Bastøy in 1915. "These events are an example of raw abuse of power among people in authority in the Norwegian society," says producer Karin Julsrud. "The state responded by sending an armored ship with 150 armed soldiers to restore order in Bastøy. It's a dramatic epic film, which we hope can reach a wide audience, both nationally and internationally. We've already done several European sales of the film with Sweden, Denmark, Poland and France." The film was shot on a peninsula in Estonia and is one of the most expensive Norwegian productions. The screenplay is written by Dennis Magnusson, and is based on an original story by Lars Saabye Christensen and Mette Marit Bølstad. You can view the trailer at this link.

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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!