Q: Jennifer Connelly and Dogville
co-star Paul Bettany have named their first son after you. On Conan
O'Brien, Connelly remarked that you said, "all
right, so now I get to suck at your wife's breast?"
when Bettany telephoned with the news. True?
Stellan: No. Well, Paul telephoned and said that now he
has got a little Stellan who sucks at his wife's breast. And
then I countered with that she can have a "Stellan" at each breast if
What did he say then?
That he'd have to check into that, ha-ha. Then he called from Canada and shouted, "I have talked with Jennifer and she says
that itís okay.Ē
Q: Actors used to say that
stimulating to play villains than heroes...
Stellan: ...but I donít agree. Bad guy roles are boring in Hollywood. They are
exactly the same character and the same film all the time. I say no to
some every year.
So why did you say yes to the role as the evil Cerdic in King Arthur
I said no to it as well at first because I thought the dialogue was
bad. But the director telephoned and said that they'd fix it on spot. We did that, but it was complicated.
So you didn't telephone mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and complain?
Not really. I rewrote my dialogue the day before production and so
we filmed. The team was extremely nervous since Bruckheimer
had not seen the changes. But he evidently
approved the results and did not interfere. It was the same thing with
Pirates of the Caribbean (note: - ironic that he eventually does
the sequels). The film company wanted to fire Johnny
Depp when they got to see how he staggered around like Keith Richards, but Bruckheimer
didnít give in...
And so came the success. Did you ever think when
you stood there in the clay with sword and false beard during the King Arthur production
that "Oh no, this is
exactly like Monty Python's crazy world - soon comes the evil
rabbit and bites us to death?
All the time. Everyone on the team joked about that from the first
production day on. Clapped their hands to imitate the horses, copied the
ďNih!Ē-knights and all that stuff.
Q: Monty Python crushed the genre a little, made it difficult to take this
kind of film seriously.
but people have probably forgotten it a little as there are many sandal
films ongoing at the moment - Troy, AlexanderÖ Gladiator
went well, and so Hollywood, inventive as usual, does the same thing again
been a lot of talk about the strange production of Exorcist:
The Beginning. What really did happen?
Stellan: The first director, John Frankenheimer, died when the production was
just half way done. Paul Schrader (the odd fish who wrote Taxi Driver
among other things), was taken in and he engaged me. A film for 40
million dollars with Schrader as director and SkarsgŚrd in the main
role... I thought, "they probably havenít got a f-ing idea about what
they are doing or they are geniuses.
Stellan: They didnít know what they were doing. It became an art film about a
man in a crisis, not at all that kind of popcorn movie the film company
had wanted. They panicked and tried to put in thriller effects. It
didnít help. Then they took in Renny Harlin to broaden up things. He
rewrote the script, took in new actors and 50 new millions. So it became
two different films.
Which one is best?
Stellan: I havenít seen them but it would be like comparing pancakes and pork
fillet. An art film and a thriller. The Renny Harlin version will be
shown in film theatres. It seems Schraderís film will be released on
Did you like the original Exorcist?
itís quite amazing. To make a film about a girl who puts a cross up her
vagina in 1973 requires courage.
What about the football film, Goal, where you play a coach with Alan
Shearer and others?
Stellan: It will come round for sure, but not with me. I wanted to work with
director Thomas Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo), but after a month he quit. He wanted to do an exceptional
film while the producer wanted something more popular.
How is your playing football then? Did you play when you were younger?
I was afraid of the ball.
Q: You didn't have a company team at
the theatre (in Stockholm)?
Stellan: At least not when I worked there.
What do your Swedish actor colleagues say when you meet? ďGreat that
youíre doing so fineĒ and things?
Sometimes. But often you get a feeling that you left those who drudge
for starvation wages at the theatre alone. Although I rarely meet any
Swedish colleagues at all. Iím at home doing the cooking when Iím in
You seem to be manically interested in cooking. A pal saw you once
standing and squeezing tomatoes for 10 minutes before you made your
Stellan: He must have seen wrong. I can decide within two seconds if the
tomatoes are okay.
You have to travel enormously in your job. Have
you missed many important family things?
Stellan: I have missed
birthdays regularly. Under certain periods when they
grow up, it would have been better to be at home
with the children. When they have turned16, you
cannot do so much more, then they stand on their own feet. But there are
many children who have worse lives than mine.
You have been married for a very long time, especially for an actor. How
do you manage it?
Stellan: You have to bear with each other and be ready to work on the trials.
Otherwise, you can just throw in the towel.
Are the Hollywood babes hitting on you a lot?
Stellan: I learned very early in my career that itís not a good idea doing
things like that. Besides, Iím working all the time. Itís not like Iím
lying at a pool all the time not knowing what to do with my body.
Are you good at playing drunk?
Stellan: Well, Iíve done a whole film,
Aberdeen, where I had to do the whole
register from warm-up to hangover and restoring. The basic principle
for that is that the brain is going slow in a way, and itís all about
What do you do with all the money you earn?
Stellan: Spending all the shit at once. And thatís not difficult at all. My
wages do not fill accounts on the Cayman Islands. When my agent
negotiated my fee for the film Timecode, which I wanted to do, she
telephoned and said with a trembling voice that she had never negotiated
so little money. There you see.
Hans Wiklund and kindly translated by Judith Pfaff]