DECEMBER 2004 NEWS
In a recent interview, co-star Gerry Butler gave this
amusing comment about filming
Beowulf and Grendel
- "I got to go to the Blue Lagoon and the geysers and the hot springs, went up on the
glaciers. I'm actually one of the few people on this planet who can claim to be on a
snowmobile with (co-star) Stellan Skarsgård feeling my breasts. 'Nice pecs, boy!'
King Arthur is now
available. My copy came from Santa :)
"I'm generally a very positive person. I'm not
afraid of dying at all. It would be inconvenient at certain points, and it's not good for
my family, but I don't mind. We're going to die, all of us, and I've already had a
fantastic life - ten times better than most people in the world, so I don't deserve really
New York City - August 2004
Additions! First, there's a new image gallery for the photos taken on January 30, 2002, at
Dogville press conference in
Trollhattan, Sweden, (sometimes called "Trollywood") where the movie was shot on
a sound stage. It's interesting to note that the 12/20/04 issue of Newsweek
includes Dogville in their list of the "Ten Most Disappointing Films
in 2004". I think that's a notch up from the ten worst films. Personally, I took no
pleasure (or offense) in viewing the film, but I like the provocative and strange Lars von
Trier and agree with those who call him brilliant. Did you know Lars added the
"von" to his name when he was in film school? I love the story about how Stellan
and Lars first met and even though Stellan was warned that the man didn't like to be
touched, he still gave him a big bear hug! This picture of Lars seems to aptly capture his
addition is the film page for a 1988 little-known feature called FRIENDS. However, cinematographer Peter Mokrosinski did
win a Guldbagge for Best Cinematography, so it obviously has some merit. It was based on a
1967 play written by Japanese novelist, dramatist and photographer Kôbô Abé and became
a Swedish/Japanese collaboration when it was brought to the screen by director Kjell-Åke
Andersson. The lead went to American actor Dennis Christopher, most famous for his role in
the 1979 classic, Breaking Away. Stellan played one of the so-called
"friends" and was in prestigious company with Sven Wolter, Helena Borgström and
Lena Olin. I can't find any availability on video, so I imagine it remains stored on its
original reels somewhere in Sweden. What a shame...
the last addition is the film page for the Norwegian psychological thriller INSOMNIA. This is one of Stellan's finest works, and one
that he is deservingly proud of. As a first feature film by its young director, Erik
Skjoldbjærg, it was selected for the prestigious Critics Week at the Cannes Film
Festival, where it was hailed by critics from around the world. There are wonderfully good
reviews all over the Internet, but I appreciate this little gem - "Stellan is
perfectly cast... soulful eyes... a sort of Gary Cooper as Viking."
Another reviewer said that "Skarsgård perfectly embodies that moral ambiguity"
in Jonas Engström. And it's in that vein that Stellan is likened to Humphrey
Bogart. In John Huston's The Maltest Falcon, the classic film noir,
Bogie plays Sam Spade, a brooding private eye with a less-than-reverential attitude toward
the law. Good characters are not entirely good; bad characters have their charms and
emotional weaknesses. That is Stellan's trademark - moral ambiguity (presented gloriously
in the role of Willem Furtwängler in Taking Sides). Stellan himself continually
admits, "If I get a real bad guy, I try to find out his good sides. And I try to
explain, at least to myself, what he is lacking... what makes him bad. And if you play a
good guy, you have to find his flaws to make them more interesting and alive."
Insomnia was remade in 2002 with Al Pacino in the lead and
received better-than-average reviews.. Roger Ebert compares the two films - "Unlike
most remakes, Christopher Nolan's Insomnia is not a pale
retread, but a re-examination of the material, like a new production of a good play.
Stellan Skarsgård, who starred in the earlier film, took an existential approach to the
character; he seemed weighed down by the moral morass he was trapped in. Pacino takes a
more physical approach: How much longer can he carry this burden?" Some reviewers
took exception to Nolan's ending with one critic likening it to "Bergmans The
Seventh Seal remade with heavy special FX and a script by Stephen King"
indicating the difference between world cinema and this country's homegrown attempt to
imitate it. I haven't seen the remake so I can't comment.
quote on doing both popcorn flicks and arthouse fare:
"You can't live on foie gras. Sometimes you want a good burger."
publications are indicating that Liv Ullmann's A Doll's House is
now in jeopardy with headlines such as "Fighting for Nora". While Ms. Ullmann
was being honored in Barcelona at the European Film Awards this past weekend, she was also
troubled by financing problems. The film is budgeted at about $11 million. She expressed
frustration saying she was becoming "greatly disillusioned" and "will be
terribly sad" if the film is not made as she has been working on this project for
several years now. Two weeks ago Scandinavian sources also reported that Kate Winslet, who
was starring as Nora, had dropped out of the project. Whether she's in or out is still in
question. This production has seen a long list of possible cast members over the past year
beginning with Cate Blanchett in the lead role. Now Ralph Fiennes appears to be replacing
John Cusack as Nora's husband, Torvald Helmer. Stellan is supposedly playing Dr. Rank with
Annette Bening in the minor role of Nora's friend, Christine Linde. Other names that have
surfaced are Kevin Spacey and Tim Roth. Apparently funding has to be completed by
Christmas as pre-production will begin in January with a shoot date of July 2005 in
FROM MY OWN
Photo taken at the "King Arthur" premiere on June 28, 2004
(but not by me ;-)
was launched on June 13, 2004 (Stellan's birthday) and today marks its sixth month
anniversary. There are now over 75 pages, including 17 completed film pages, 500 images,
33 interviews, and a news archive! And many thanks to the steady source of contributors
(including Stellan) who help to keep this gal informed!
living in Sweden, SVT will be broadcasting the short film, EIFFELTORNET, this month. This 13-minute film made
the film festival circuit this year starting in January when it won Best Short Film at the
Göteborg Film Festival. Stellan plays Jacob, a man who tells his wife (played by Pernilla
August) that he's had a dream about Paris but the Eiffel Tower was strangely missing. It
will be shown on December 29 on SVT2 at 7 pm (19:00).
ago Seán Ó Cearrúlláin, editor and publisher of The Ireland Guide,
wrote for contact info to interview Stellan regarding
AND GRENDEL. The December issue is now highlighting the film, but next month
it'll feature interviews with both Stellan and Gerry Butler. Director Sturla Gunnarsson
was asked if he felt Stellan would influence the film's success - "Well, you know,
Stellan is just so awesome. He arrived out there in the middle of things when we had just
begun setting up and there were winds up to 130 km a hour, storms and freezing weather. He
was out shooting half naked battling the elements in his nightshirt. He's just such a
powerful force." Sean than asked if Stellan was amused at playing the Danish king.
Sturla replied, "Yeah, he was amused actually. He laughed a little at it and thought
it was great." And does Gerry Butler compliment Stellan in the film? "They are
both very powerful actors and give a tremendous amount to the film." And Sturla's
expectations for the story's impact in America? "I'm hoping it has immense theatrical
impact in the States and does really well. It's a Diamond in the Mud Production!"
"They come runnin' just as fast as they can,
coz every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man"
Do you recognize these two celebs? If you do,
name the movie they starred in together. [Answer here] What's
with the shaggy hair?
Special thanks to Eva Ding of France for this fun contribution
will be in Barcelona this weekend. The European Film Academy is hosting an actors
summit called "Shop Talk: Actors Talk About Their Work" on Saturday, December
11th. Taking place in the morning and early afternoon before the evening's Awards
ceremony, the conference will focus on the working conditions, challenges and
opportunities for actors in Europe and will include a conversation between Stellan
and Hungarian director István Szabó (Taking Sides) on the topic
of "European Stars: Illusion or Reality?" Norwegian actress/director Liv Ullmann
(who will be directing Stellan in A Doll's House next year) will be receiving
this year's prize for European Achievement in World Cinema, the same award Stellan was
honored with in 1998 for Amistad and Good Will Hunting. Stellan also
attended the 2000 ceremony when he was nominated for Best European Actor in Aberdeen. He
failed to win but picked up prizes for Dancer in the Dark on behalf of
Björk and Lars von Trier. See
European Film Awards.
[Correction 12/13: Stellan was also nominated by the EFA for Best European Actor in 2001
for Taking Sides but lost to Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast.]
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING
DVD will be available March 1, 2005 at the price of $27.95. The ONLY extra material will
be an audio commentary with director Renny Harlin, a making of featurette and the films
theatrical trailer. This single-disc release will NOT include the Paul Schrader version of
the film. I don't know public opinion, but I really dislike the artwork they chose for the
now an interview with Stellan at the BEOWULF AND GRENDEL WEB SITE. Some
of it was previously seen in the RUV clip last week. Other interviews
can be assessed as well by the producer, writer and star Gerry Butler.
Here's another Sci-fi interview with Butler - "I think the story is so
beautiful and powerful and human, and yet gritty and real. And the
dialogue is so incredibly poetic, but tough."
In preparation for the role of King Hrothgar:
"I didn't do the traditional way. Since I was playing a king, I would have to live
like a king for years... (pause)
I do that anyway (big grin).
The DVD of The
Perfect Murder (1988) will be available in Region 1 format (US and Canada)
on January 18, 2005 at Amazon.ca.
"Few literary forms are more comforting than the classic
murder mystery, which opens up the chasm of death, chaos and fear beneath our feet only to
resolve it: as a symmetrical puzzle in which all the pieces fit, all evil is avenged or
exposed, all memories dovetail and correspond. The often delicious, occasionally arch 'The
Perfect Murder', based on one of H.R.F. Keating's Inspector Ghote novels, fits into that
form, but also, subtly, expands it. The puzzle has the intricate design of an Oriental
carpet, yet a sweet breath of realism often drifts across its surface."
NEW VIDEO AT
AND GRENDEL WEB SITE! Be sure to visit and view the eight-minute clip
that was aired November 30 on RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. It
includes interviews on location with Sturla as well as some of the cast including Stellan.
Co-star Gerry Butler recently discussed Beowulf in a Phantom of the Opera
interview - "From the first word, from the first description of the characters, I
realized that I was reading something very different." [Read
full article] In Canada's Globe and Mail Review, it was reported that Jon E.
Gustavsson, not only has a small role in the film, but is also in charge of the
"Making of" documentary, which should be quite fascinating.
"You will feel the weather in the film. It will be present as
another actor, as a character in the film... It's been a very interesting experience, not
only because the landscape is so outlandish and stunningly beautiful... I haven't see any
similarity to it elsewhere in the world... They've had conditions here that you
cannot create with wind machines or snow machines or rain machines." ...Stellan
never know what will pop up when you put "Skarsgård" into an Image Search. Don't
be startled - Stellan didn't REALLY have brain surgery,
though Danish make-up artist
,Morten Jacobsen, sure makes the stitching and scarring look real.
There is something else fake in this photo. Anyone? Favorite thing to do
while on location? Stellan responds, "Except for the pleasure of the work
and the joy of playing with my friends on the set, definitively taking off the sideburns
at the end of the day." If you don't know this film, drop everything and
head to the nearest Blockbuster to rent
The film page has now been completed
ÅKE OCH HANS VÄRLD, (Åke
and his World). Set in a small Swedish city in the early twentieth century, the film
presents us with the characters and events as seen through the eyes of a six-year-old boy.
Åke (played by Martin Lindström) is an unremarkable child, but very winning. He comes
from a loving family, his father practices medicine, and disaster doesn't lurk in the
wings. But Åke does see some of the injustices and horrors of the world through his
neighbors, and he does not live in an idyllic paradise. He has an insane
older cousin, who stays in bed because she considers human beings dangerous, a
chain-smoking mother, a grandmother who believes in spirits and enjoys spooking the
children with ghost stories, a frail playmate named Kalle Nubb (played by Alexander
Skarsgård) and a neighbor, the lunatic shoemaker Ebenholtz (played by Stellan), who
preaches religious fanatism and also delights in sharing tales with Åke about his
This film, based on Bertil Malmberg's book, premiered in Sweden in 1984
and a year later was featured at several film festivals reaping both an award and a couple
nominations. Critics generally applauded the film for the way Åke's sweet childhood
innocence permeated the screen. They also agreed that Edwall's version remained faithful
to author Malmberg's original idea - While the boy exists, the light will exist.
Stellan's eldest son, strikingly handsome
28-year-old Alexander, made his film debut in Åke och hans värld.
Allan Edwall was primarily an actor, who had worked with Stellan in both theater and film.
In just the previous year, they had both starred in Ingmar Bergman's Hustruskolan and
Hans Alfredson's P&B. Allan had written a screenplay based on the 1924
book, which was first adapted for Swedish television in 1959. He was ready to direct the
film and pick his cast, so Allan suggested to Stellan that his seven-year-old son should
audition for the title role. As it turned out, Alexander was given the role of Åke's poor
and sickly friend, Kalle Nubb, since he was far better suited with his pale complexion and
waifish appearance, whereas actor Martin Lindström had the freckled, healthy and
well-to-do look needed for Åke. Allan ended up taking on the colorful role of Principal
Godeman, a harsh believer in strict education.
Interestingly, Martin Lindström went on to make only two
more films - Falsk som vatten (1985) and Jim & piraterna (1987) -
both of which starred Stellan. Alexander has since starred in 18 films and also directed
the short film,
ATT DÖDA ETT BARN,
narrated by his father and starring his brother Valter, the youngest of the six
Skarsgård children. I'm a lover of family photos so here's a precious set.
fathers and sons,
LIGHT KEEPS ME COMPANY (Ljuset
håller mig sällskap) is an endearing documentary by Carl-Gustav Nykvist on the life
of his father, renown Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Combining footage from family
events in the year before his father's death along with scenes on and off camera from the
Ingmar Bergman collaborations and interviews with various directors and actors,
Carl-Gustav has created a grand tribute to a gifted filmmaker. Stellan appears several
times revealing his memories of working with him, not just when Sven was the
cinematographer, but also when he made his directorial debut with THE OX. The first three photos below are screen caps from
the documentary. Note how the cow is photographed through a cold frosty window with the
light encircling it as it were an apparition to the starving Helge Roos. The fourth image
shows a new find - a poster highlighting the film's 1996 Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes
Nykvist was also the cinematographer for one of my all-time favorites - The
Unbearable Lightness of Being (1987). I have a video copy I bought a decade
ago, but I'm trying to purchase the DVD, evidently rare these days and therefore
exorbitantly priced even on Ebay. I asked Stellan recently to share some of his thoughts
on this beautiful poetic film and whether this role led to future offers. "As far as
I know, Lena [Olin] was not involved in getting me the role but it was, in some ways, a very
Swedish production with Sven Nykvist as director of photography, Bertil Olsson as producer
and Erland Josephsson in another role. One day we were all on the set and I think Philip
[Kaufman] might have become a little uncomfortable when we all suddenly started talking in
Swedish... Working with Juliette [Binoche] was, of course a dream... she is so alive and
different in every take.... It was very brief though... I basically flew down, shook her
hand and went to bed with her and then headed back to Sweden. I have no clue if it, in any
way, helped my international career."
"I think that the films that have been most important are - first,
Simple-minded Murderer that got me
Noon Wine and
an agent....the hardworking, tough, never-giving-up Jeri Scott, who is now my manager.
Then two Norwegian films -
and Insomnia - that gave me a good reputation in the film
community and, of course,
Breaking the Waves
that suddenly gave me a lot more interesting options, including
Hunting that put me on the map for a wider audience... This is all my guess,
of course. At the moment Im reading a lot of scripts but still havent found
anything I would like to leave home for, but I do look for something to do before
Nancy [in April]."