INTERVIZYON - Turkish interview by FŁsun Nebil

Stellan SkarsgŚrd: About World Cinema and Cooking

November 28, 2004

Stellan SkarsgŚrd is Sweden's gift to World Cinema following the Ingrid Bergman and Ursula Andress tradition. I like the cinema as most people, but due to my attention to business in the last four to five years, I havenít followed it as I would like to, though some actors and directors still grab my attention like the one I will try to introduce you to in this article.

According to his filmography, he became internationally known with Lars Von Trierís Breaking the Waves. I first noticed him in Taking Sides. It was a true story. He played the role of  a maestro, who had been very famous in Hitler's time. The movie showed him being questioned as a war criminal after WWII by an American officer. Stellan showed many emotions - fear, pride to be an artist but also some regret and anger.

At a glance at his unoffical web site (, there are so many movies in his filmography. In Turkey we had the chance to see Ronin, Good Will Hunting, The Hunt for Red October, Deep Blue Sea, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville and nowadays Exorcist: The Beginnning and King Arthur.

When I tried to reach him over the Internet, he soon replied. He is interesting and different from other stars, such as having six children, a long-lasting marriage and political opinions.

What motivated you to become an actor as a teenager in 1968? A coincidence or a conscious choice? You said you wanted to become a diplomat. Why?

As a young boy, I had a romantic idea about being a diplomat. It sounded very important dealing with matters of war and peace, travelling the world, nice parties....I actually never decided to become an actor. I just started as a child and kept on working and still donít know what to become when I grow up.

Could you tell us about your Royal Dramatic Theatre years. You worked together with big names in those years like Ingmar Bergman.

I had a fantastic sixteen years at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, mainly working with great directors as Alf SjŲberg and Per Verner. I came there very young and stole as much as I could from the older and more talented actors, making sure I took a little from each one so nobody could trace the lot and believe I was copying anybody. I got all my theatre training there, and I had a lifetime contract when I quit, mainly because I had differences with the new head of the theatre.

Most actors can't maintain a marriage, but you are an exception in that matter with a long-lasting marriage and six kids. Would you tell us your opinion about marriage and kids generally, and  specifically what is your secret and opinion about your marriage and kids?

No clue, we all do what we can... and Iím not perfect in any way....

Your two sons are following in your steps with a career in movies. Do you like that?

Iíve never interferred with their choices in life. All you can do is give your children as much love and self esteem as possible when they are small, and then life has to be in their own hands. Though I must say it worried me at first since it is a tough business but I held back and once they had shown their talent, it only made me happy. Itís a beautiful profession and they bring something very good to it.

How do you define your career? What kind of movies or dramas do you like to do? We see you in both popular American movies like Ronin and interesting projects like Breaking the WavesÖ

I really enjoy having this privilege to be able to choose between so many different projects. As an actor, I usually find the more interesting roles in the smaller films, the European and American independent films, but itís also a lot of fun, and sometimes refreshing, to do the big American studio projects..... And be like a child playing with guns and swords and not have to worry too much about the psychology of the character.

What is your opinion of todayís world? I mean hunger, wars, weakness in political systems and political management, environmental problems. You are member of some public organizations such has Doctors without Borders.

The state of the world worries me a lot, of course, as it does anybody who isnít blind. I actively support Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders and Attac. And yes, I could talk about it for hours.... About the stupidity of the American foreign policy...  About the danger of mixing politics and religion...  About the way the western world steals from the poor through WTO, the World Bank and the general idea of Friedman economics... About the negligence of human rights all over the world and the lack of tolerance and willingness to see reality through any eyes but your own....

Exorcist is a kind of fantastic and unrealistic movie. What is your opinion about this kind of movie?

I see it as a fairy tale meant to be entertaining, but also about losing faith in a wider way... Not necessarily religious. Personally I donít worship any god, but I try to do good. And if there is a god, and a good one, he or she will not be vain enough to judge me by my worship, but by the good I do among my fellow humans.

Could you tell us about your awards and nominations?

I donít know... You canít compete in art, but itís always very nice when you are appreciated. It doesnít mean there arenít a lot of fantastic actors that were just as deserving...or more.. Check the IMDB site if you want some of them.

What are your plans? We read that you are in three new projects. Could you tell us about them?

I just finished a very interesting shoot in Iceland, a film based on the old Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. Had a lot of fun under very hard conditions. Two hurricanes and one volcano eruption was just a part of it. But the role was great fun and lovely people to work with. The next project planned is an American independent film with Holly Hunter and William Hurt called Downloding Nancy, a very dark, different and well-written project, planned to start in April. Iím now reading scripts to see if there is anything interesting to do before then but still havenít found anything... Might just stay home and cook for a couple of months.

Do you like to play in historical movies?

Doesnít really matter. There are more important things than the clothes.

Do you think as a Swedish actor that you've had enough chance to show your talent? Do you think you became internationally popular at a later time? Would you like to be an American actor? Why?

Iím so happy the way it is. Iím an international actor with a lot of interesting work to choose from and I have enough problems getting around without being recognized.

Could you compare the European Cinema  to American movies? Which advantages do they each have?

Thereís not much difference when you work with the smaller budgets. But when you get into the big studio productions with budgets sometimes a hundred million dollars and more, youíre in for more industrial work than art and the scripts unfortunately look very much the same.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Cook.....sometimes even Turkish.

For example?

I havenít done much Turkish cooking so if you know a site with recipes in English, please let me know. I have made some kŲfte, kebab and different salads. I do a lot of Moroccan cooking since I have been there on three films.

Do you have any knowledge about Turkey and the Turks?

Oh, I follow politics and read my history. Very grateful to AtatŁrk for his laws on secularism and equality between men and women, but still have some way to go though. Very pleased that you have entered the civilized world and abolished the death penalty. I also hope you will enter the EU so we can become the same nation.

Would you like to play in a Turkish movie?

Would love to... if itís good.....