DECEMBER 2011:

12.20.11:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)With THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO opening in theaters today, most film critics have lavished the film with much praise though differing opinions are continually offered on Rooney Mara vs. Noomi Rapace. I'll give my opinion once I see the film. Personally, there are two factors in film that can prove highly annoying to me. They are wigs and accents. If you're going to spend millions of dollars on a film, pul-leese do not use a noticeably bad wig. Secondly, I am extremely sensitive to proper accents. For instance, in the Tom Cruise film, "Valkyries", the cast consists of British actors, some of whom play German generals, who deliver lines that sound like, "Jolly good, let's have a spot of tea." It's absolutely unwatchable! Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail, had this interesting comment on accents and Stellan's character:

"The odd variety of strong, weak and non-existent Swedish accents is only slightly distracting at first, and eventually, the speech styles seem almost a reflection of character. Curiously, it is the castís major Swedish actor, SkarsgŚrd, who sounds the most American, which does nothing to undermine the power of his performance. While fans may argue for years over the superiority of Team Noomi or Team Rooney,  the version of SkarsgŚrd's Martin Vanger tops both the book and the previous adaptation. He brings the story a much-needed sardonic zest for evil." 

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Since Stellan has been out and about promoting 'DRAGON TATTOO', he gave several interviews. Here are some links to his interviews. (Click on each photo) The first one is from this morning's Today Show and the last link is the whole cast on the Charlie Rose show, which aired on December 15th.

AmNewYork spoke with Stellan last week about the film.

Q: In general, how do you feel about remakes?

Stellan: I'm fine with remakes if the remake is better. The problem usually with remakes has been that some brilliant European auteur has made a movie, and then some Hollywood executive says, "That was a great film - let's do it." So they take away everything that's edgy, everything that's personal, and then they hire a generic director to do it. When it comes to this film, it's not like a remake of an Ingmar Bergman movie - it's another movie based on the same book. And it's actually made by an auteur. It's made by David Fincher, who's one of the greatest directors in the world.

Q: Was it at all strange to shoot a Hollywood movie in English in Sweden?

Stellan: I've filmed in English in Sweden before, but that's been with [director] Lars Von Trier and in another part of Sweden. But it's the first time in 20 years I've been able to go straight from my own bed to work every morning, and that was very, very pleasant.

Q: Since your sons Gustaf, Bill and Alexander are all actors, when can we expect a SkarsgŚrd family movie?

Stellan: [Laughs] We could do that. We could do that. I can bring in my mother, too, and we can cast quite a crew.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)In a recent interview with the Irish Times, Stellan discusses his upcoming projects and without mentioning the actual name of the film, he reports that the project has been dropped due to financial problems. Stellan does mention the next Marvel movie and working with Lars von Trier again. Here are some comments from Stellan about von Trier from a recent interview with IndieWire.

Stellan explained that before "Melancholia," von Trier had been considering giving up filmmaking altogether, saying "He had a six year depression, weíve been in touch all the time, and it was really, really bad for a long while. When we started 'Melancholia' I sat down and talked with him and he said, 'I donít think itís fun anymore' and I said 'Well, you better, because you canít live without it.'" Fortunately, and ironically, given the title of the film, his apocalyptic drama seemed to find him reclaiming the joy of his profession, according to his actor; "Eventually I think he started to enjoy himself on 'Melancholia.' He had a very playful attitude on the set... his depression is over now, and we are going to be doing a film this summer."

Stellan was actually the first actor on board the director's next project, "The Nymphomaniac," which will co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg in what promises to be another taboo-pushing piece of work. Apparently, von Trier called and said, 'Stellan, I just want to book you for next summer, so donít take anything else. Iím going to make a porno film and I want you to play the male lead.' 'Yes of course, Lars,' I said. 'But you will not get to fuck in the film.' I said okay, he said, 'But you will show your dick at the end, and it will be very floppy.' 'Okay Lars, I will be there, if thatís what youíre doing.' "

Did Stellan have any hesitations?  "None. Itís fun. If you make as many films as I do, the process of making it is where you live. Itís not the release dates and the reviews and rewards. My life is to be on set and I want to do interesting work. Thatís why I want to work with interesting directors. I want to have fun, thatís my problem." Given his reputation as a prankster, I'm sure he'll have fun.

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There are two new interviews you can check out on the Press Page.

12.17.11:

The Observer has a series called "The film that changed my life" and today's edition featured Stellan:

When I was about 11 years old, my father stood me in front of the television at home and said: "This is a film you have to see." It was "Les enfants du paradis", directed by Marcel Carnť. Shot in Paris during the Nazi occupation, it's about a troupe of mime artists and performers in the 1880s.

It's a very beautiful, epic story, but what moved me the most was the scene where Jean-Louis Barrault, who plays the mime artist Jean-Baptiste Debureau, is performing a pantomime on stage, his face painted white. He looks into the wings and sees the woman he loves with another man. You see his face crack behind the mask. For me, that moment captured what acting is all about Ė what is happening behind the mask.

The French actor Arletty, who played the love interest Garance, aroused me as an 11-year-old boy. It was her enormous sensuality Ė her way of moving, her way of speaking, her way of looking. Another wonderful character was Lacenaire, the murderer who goes around killing people for most of the film. His aim is to be hanged for his crimes in Paris, not some small-time town, and he eventually succeeds. It is beautifully written, very poetic. Carnť worked with the writer Jacques Prťvert on a couple of other beautiful films as well, and they were extremely successful together.

Seeing "Les enfants du paradis" interested me in the idea of becoming an actor, and I've used the "layers behind the mask idea" in my work. I've told lots of people about it Ė it's Emily Watson's favourite too, so I'm in good company. But I don't watch it often Ė perhaps once every 10 years Ė because it's already had its impact on me. There's no film I go back to more than a few times. There's too much fresh work to see.

12.14.11

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Columbia Pictures has announced that the US opening of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO has been changed to December 20, one day ahead of its previous announced debut. The film has earned raving reviews following its London premiere on Monday. As of today, the Rottentomato meter is registering 94% with 31 reviews. It's definitely going to be a huge winner at the box office. The weather did not cooperate on Monday evening but the stars bravely walked the red carpet in the bitter cold and rain. Rooney Mara showed up in a lace creation by Givenchy Couture. She was joined by director David Fincher and co-stars Daniel Craig, Joely Richardson, Geraldine James, Yorickk Van Wageninge, and Stellan, who was accompanied by wife Megan, wearing a mini-dress - she must have been shivering as well.

When questioned about the problem of treading in the successful footsteps of the Swedish language version, Stellan responded, "It doesn't matter. Any good film is good because it has the personal view of the director that does it, and Fincher has a very strong personal view in everything he does, so I think it will be interesting."

Here are some pics from the world premiere in London:

Last night the film had its Swedish premiere at the Sergel Theatre in Stockholm. Stellan spoke to reporters and explained that although the film explores a very fictional dark side of society, its portrayal of feminine strength was particularly Swedish. The country is known for its cradle-to-grave welfare system and Ikea department stores. The film and books paint another picture, more in tune with its bleak and cold winters and a dark side found in a number of Swedish crime novels that have taken the publishing world by storm in the last decade. Stellan said foreigners, in general, did not know much about the small Scandinavian country and hoped that Sweden would not be too associated with the crime wave genre that has put Swedish Noir at the top of the modern world's literary map.

"I hope they don't think that the way Sweden is portrayed in those books and films is the way Sweden is, because it is still a very peaceful and lovely and very nice country to live in," he said.

Stellan further commented on his concern that people would connect the country to rape. Leave it to him to say, "I do not know anybody who has been raped anally. You might not believe it but that's the case, and I have never been raped anally." Yup, that's our man!

And then tonight, the New York premiere was held at the Ziegfield Theater. Attending were Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer and Stellan, again accompanied by wife Megan, wearing another mini-dress. You've got to give a round of applause for those cast members who traveled the publicity circuit this week to promote the film.

Be sure to visit the "Dragon Tattoo" gallery for more photos from all these publicity events.

Now let's have some praise from the film critics:

"It moves like a mad dog, looks like a hi-def dream and is deliciously cast from top to bottom. Go and bask in the lushly photographed luridness."   ...Keith Uhlich, Timeout, New York

"Mr. Fincher also knows how to bring out the fearlessness in actors. As James Bond, Mr. Craig is a terrific mixture of sarcastic charm and sartorial splendor, in or out of the sack, but when the role calls for something darker, heís equally well equipped. Mr. SkarsgŚrd is especially scary because of the sheer exploitation of power with which he manipulates people under the guise of polite, amiable calm - making his later scenes from friendly to ferocious doubly shocking. Ms. Mara is a damaged ferret, her eyes darting, her tongue rubbing her stapled lips as she helps the mentally distraught reporter try to make sense of a deepening mystery. It all adds up to a noxious brew of teeth-grinding, knuckle-whitening brutality."   ...Rex Reed, The Observer

"Fincher teases out the full mythological grandeur of the material. He's not just a great director - he's an artist with the eyes of a voyeur, and he has made The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo into an electrifying movie by turning the audience into addicts of the forbidden, looking for the sick and twisted things we can't see."  ...Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"A controlled, mesmerising, beautiful thriller scarred by scenes of unshakeable brutality and breathless tension."   ...Jamie Graham, Total Film

"What is wonderful to see is the grand severity of the northern Sweden landscapes. Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth captures the coldness of the climate and remoteness of the countryside in a tactile fashion to complement the frosty and distant nature of the characters."   ...David Germain, Associated Press

I'm always curious about a film's soundtrack and this is what film critic Tony Macklin had to say - "What distinguishes Fincher's film is its power, at times excruciating... The soundtrack should win an Oscar. It's terrific... There's the crunch of feet on snow, the whistle of the wind, the buzz of a floor cleaner, the boom of a night club, the zoom of a motorcycle. The music by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor is the pulse of the film - throbbing, beating, increasing tension, communicating horror."

"While the European take on this guttural European tale was quite marvelous with its performances and frosty execution, the Swedes didnít have David Fincher. With its isolation, rage, and penetrative possibilities, the celebrated director was practically born to helm this graphic murder mystery. "   ...Brian Orndorf, Blu-ray.com

"Adapting the story with his usual flair for the dramatic and dark, David Fincher draws out themes and ideas that were barely present in the novel, creating a film that's less about the lugubrious story than the fascinating characters who inhabit it. It's a vast improvement on the source material, a brooding and gripping mystery that's captivating even if you know exactly how the story turns out."   ...Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

12.04.11

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Here we have photos of Stellan attending last night's 24th annual European Film Awards in Berlin.

And I am thrilled to report that Lars von Trier's apocalyptic drama, MELANCHOLIA, which had received eight nominations, garnered trophies for Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Production Design! The award for Best Director went to another very talented Danish director, Susanne Bier. Von Trier's wife, Bente Froge, accepted the Best Film prize on behalf of her husband, announcing that Lars had taken a vow of silence after his Nazi remarks at Cannes "but he did ask that I should wave to you in a kind and gentle way." The film's stars, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, were both nominated for Best Actress but lost to Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin") and I'm not going to complain about that choice. She's the indie's counterpart to Meryl Streep. I highly recommend her performance in "Io sono l'amore" (aka I am Love) where she speaks Italian with a Polish accent!

Stellan was on hand to give out the EFA Lifetime Achievement Award to Mads Mikkelsen. You may remember that the pair starred together in "King Arthur". According to the Hollywood Reporter, the biggest laughs of the evening came when our Swede paid tribute to the Danish actor turning his speech into a mini-roast.

"I don't admire you for your looks, because you're not good looking," Stellan riffed. "You have an 'interesting' face. I know you've been voted sexiest man in Denmark like 6 times but those are by people who don't know you. And we have to remember Denmark is a very small place." He ended on a sweet note with, "Mads, everything you do has a clarity to it. There's nothing fuzzy about what you do. You're acting is clean, graceful and very poetic."

I have to agree that Mads is an A+ actor and his so-called "interesting" face has given him magnificent screen presence such as the villain in "Casino Royale". However, my favorite Mads film continues to be "Elsker dig for evigt" (aka Open Hearts), which you can rent at Netflix.