Aftonbladet (Swedish newspaper) - January 2, 1998

Stellan Skarsgård talks about movies, Paris and his father's illness.

Busiest at the movies? Actor Stellan Skarsgård is currently bringing us six new movies. Right now he is in Paris shooting the movie Ronin.

PARIS. Today is the world premiere of Glasblåsarns barn. Stellan Skarsgård has five new movies, and is the busiest man at the Gothenburg film festival. He’s here in France doing his next big role in the thriller Ronin with Robert De Niro.

He can give a lot of thanks to Breaking the waves. Its success has given Stellan Skarsgård new roles as did the Norwegian Zero Kelvin and Insomnia. Now we’ll see him in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, in Good Will Hunting with Robin Williams and the British film, My Son The Fanatic. And also Glasblåsarns barn.

Did you work extra hard the last few years?

"Last year I made three and a half movies... But the Gothenburg Film Festival is showing what I did during the last three years"

Even so, he hasn’t been able to do every movie that he wanted to.

"I’ve lost a lot of good roles by the financers not believing in me. Wayne Wang wanted me in Chinese Box, but the financers settled on Jeremy Irons. They are familiar with him...

Stellan Skarsgård has been in France since October to shoot in mostly Paris, but also the Riviera.

What’s the best thing about living in Paris for a few months?

"The food, although it’s a damn shame that you can’t cook yourself. When we were in Nice, we had a house. I had the family with me, and you could cook."

When he's at home in Stockholm, it’s the house and six children that matters.

"Cook and change diapers. I can be at the stove for four hours a day..."

Do you listen to music?

"No, we’ve got three CDs playing at the same time at home, plus my wife listens to P1 (a Swedish radio station). If I could put on a record of anything, it would be silence."

What’s the most common misconception about big Hollywood sets?

"That it’s so glamorous. It’s very practical. They spoil the hell out of the actors with trailers and chauffeurs, but the actual work is just grinding for twelve hours when it’s cold and messy. It’s tough."

You’ve done 50 pictures. Are you still impressed by working with people such as Robert De Niro?

"I don’t look at it that way. Of course, I’m aware of what an icon he is, but I know he’s just as nervous as anyone else. He’s a terrific actor, but there are many terrific actors that nobody knows about. From a pure actor's standpoint, it isn’t more of a big deal to work with De Niro than with Pernilla August. She’s just as good. Shooting involves a lot of waiting and long breaks."

"Paris is an amazing city. When I’m off, I can walk around for five hours straight. But I have a hard time being a tourist alone. For each experience, I want to turn to a familiar and loved face, look into someone’s eyes and nod agreeably. If I don’t have someone to share the experience with, I’m very bad at enjoying it."

If you see something cool, but nobody else sees it, it’s like it doesn’t exist.

"Exactly. Then it doesn’t exist. It’s a handicap. I’ve never learned to be alone."

You seem to have a close connection to your family. You have six children and spend a lot of time with your siblings.

"Yes, I do. I often speak with my siblings and they visit me on the sets. Both mine and my wife’s siblings, who are my childhood friends. My main party."

Your father died recently.
"Yes, at 77 years old. It’s also an odd experience. Memories you have with someone. If that person dies, they disappear. He was an amazing father even if we argued. And we had a lot in common. Every time I came up with a new meal, I told him."

Did he also enjoy cooking?

"Yes, to the very end. He stopped eating, drank only wine, smoked and weighed 99 pounds when he died, although he was six feet tall. But until the very end, he read books about cooking. He knew what it would taste like even if he couldn’t taste it himself. He had ideas and came with suggestions."

"I thought his time had come, but you can’t be sure how to react in advance. It was fast. He had a second stroke after being in a wheelchair for six years, and it was over in a few hours. He never woke up. I thought it would be easier. It shifted between crying like hell and a weird humour. It was a rollercoaster of emotions."

You’ve worked with many different directors.

"Bo Widerberg is the one who taught me most about making films. He was an amazing director. He had sort of an absolute demand for truth."

Stellan Skarsgård on:

Amistad:  " Steven Spielberg is a nice fellow. Very relaxed, even if he works in a raging tempo. Often directs with one of his kids in his lap.”
Glasblåsarns Barn: "It will be a different children’s movie. It has a script unlike anything else, for better or worse.”

Good Will Hunting: "Robin Williams is great. He is neurotically funny all the time, sometimes to the point of feeling sorry for him. Nice script by intelligent Ben Affleck and Matt Damon."
Insomnia: “Interesting thriller by Norwegian debutant director. I act rather hard, and he manages to set the mood for the movies atmosphere.”
My Son The Fanatic: "  
Ronin: "Nice crowd to work with. But shooting action is boring. Car chases and you just sit waiting all night while a bunch of stuntmen go back and forth. Then you get called in for 30 seconds of close-ups in a hundred miles per hour.”

[Kindly translated by Robin Solsjö Höglund with our sincere thanks]