NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2015 NEWS

12.12.15

For those of us with Netflix membership, we have gleaned the rewards of excellent crime drama via the BBC series, RIVER. Without Netflix, there is now one more option - the DVD or Blu-ray, which became available on November 30th. Having watched the series myself, I wish to share my enthusiasm for this interesting and intelligent creation of Abi Morgan's. John Doyle of the Globe and Mail echoes my sentiments exactly -

River is a stunningly successful hybrid of Nordic noir and the traditional, gloomy British police procedural. It is also about solving a murder, but mainly about the intricacies of the human mind dealing with loss and terrible grief. It is melancholy itself.

One of the truly striking aspects of the series is its adherence to the unglamorous. Almost every face, including Riverís, is middle-aged and haggard. The weight of the world and all its woes have made every character immutably fatigued and careworn. And yet there is a macabre sense of humour running through everything, a gentle sense of comedy that eventually underscores the poignancy of Riverís grief.

Like Abi Morganís The Hour, River also has an exquisite visual richness. It is mostly emphatic greys, with flashes of colour arriving at disconcerting moments. You can almost smell the wet, wintry, overcast London in which it is set. And it has a lyrical literary quality, something it shares with the Nordic noir genre.

It is simply astonishing to find the police procedural as cleverly reinvented as it is in River, and with such wry, poignant force. It is brilliantly done, a little masterpiece of entertainment raised to the level of grave, heartbreaking storytelling.

In regard to Stellan's work in both film and television, he voiced his opinions in a recent interview:

"I have very limited experience on television, but I think now that all the films between two million and a hundred million dollars are gone, then all those character driven, well written films by the best writers, directed by the best directors and acted by the best actors, they are all gone. So that kind of storytelling will now be in television. But it also means that television has to adapt to it more, and that they canít produce television as factories anymore because they will have to adapt to different talents. And I think it is disastrous with the method they have of directors that come in and just direct two episodes each. The first season of True Detective for instance was made by one director, and it makes a big difference because then it is one creative centre. Of course in America the writers are usually the creative centres, but that means that you destroy a whole generation of directors because they become just movers of cameras as they donít have enough input. I think anything that should have a lasting value has to come from one creator and have a very strong personal voice. So I would like to see more power to the directors in television and I want to see a bigger flexibility from the producers in television. We were lucky on River, but I know many, many producers work like they used to when television was totally based on all the information being in the dialogue. It didnít matter what actors or what director you had because you just said the lines and people could follow it. But it is not like that anymore.

And how has his acting career changed him?

"There is not one project, not even the really bad ones that I havenít learned from. I cannot always say that I knew what I had learned, but I knew I was learning. And, to me, my entire career is like a growing process that through life, through the friends you have made and the family you have, and your experiences, you grow as a human being. You grow also through your work. And when your work has so much to do with not only the technicalities of the work, but you are actually dealing with human reactions and human thought all of the time, then that hopefully develops you. But I know that it gradually changes you."

There's a good article in The Guardian, published on November 27, in which Stellan discusses his family values. Click here.

11.20.15

BBC's RIVER, created by Abi Morgan, is Stellan's first long television series since his debut with "Bombi Bitt" nearly 50 years ago. This past Wednesday Netflix gave their worldwide viewers a chance to be entertained by our Swede's role as a police detective plagued by inner visions after a difficult loss. Stellan describes the series as "more cinematic than regular TV." He says the shooting, which took five months, was the toughest he has done because he was in every scene. The series has been very successful in England and received good reviews. Hull Daily Mail writes, "Stellan SkarsgŚrd has delivered a superb performance in the lead role. He could have been an unsympathetic character, a raving lunatic almost, but the Swedish star has been note perfect throughout - something that doesn't surprise Morgan. 'I was a huge fan of Stellan since Breaking the Waves,' says the writer. 'He has tremendous warmth and stillness and so when we started to talk about who could play River in the early days, Stellan was absolutely at the forefront. I just didn't think he would even look at it because, to me, he's a film star. By some miracle Jane Featherstone flew the script to him and he responded very quickly, and after a lovely boozy dinner with him in Stockholm, he just signed up to it. Stellan being Swedish is interesting because originally I didn't write this for a Swedish actor, yet that became an important part of the storytelling; his back story, the remoteness of the man and this idea of him being displaced emotionally and literally. It was really helpful, quite powerful and added something to that performance.'"

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR will make its theatrical premiere in the UK this spring. Rumor has it that it may be screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Adapted from the John le Carrť novel, the screenplay was penned by Hossein Amini and directed by Susanna White. The American-British spy thriller began filming in late March 2014 and continued for ten weeks with locations in Londons and its suburbs, Finland, Bern, Paris, the French Alps and Marrakech. Besides Stellan, the cast includes Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Naomie Harris. Lionsgate has acquired the U.S. distribution rights. The synopsis reads: A British couple get embroiled with a Russian oligarch and high-profile money launderer Dima (SkarsgŚrd) while on holiday in Marrakech. Dima leads them into a tortuous journey through Paris, the Swiss Alps and London amid the Russian mafia and Britain's Secret Service.

11.08.15

Filming began last month on Stellan's newest project - MUSIC, WAR and LOVE. Inspired by true stories of talented musicians of the 1930s and 40s, the film begins in pre-war Poland and ends almost 20 years later in New York. Directed by Martha Coolidge, the drama boasts an international cast of actors from America, Australia England and Poland. Stellan has been commuting between Stockholm and Poland for his role as an opera singer. He says, "I cannot sing, so I will be dubbed. But it will, after all, look as if I could sign arias for real." Other cast members include Connie Nielsen, Adelaide Clemens, Tony Sebastian, Adam Levy and Leo Suter. Filming is set for Lodz, Krakow, Berlin, London and New York.  Post-production of the film will take place in the United States. The film's premiere is planned for 2016. No shots of Stellan have surfaced yet but you can sense a flavor of this film by the following production stills.