Helsingborgs Dagblad - December 19, 2007 (excerpts)

Stellan talks about Arn, religion and the difference between stage and film

The Arn books:
"Jan Guillou is both an educator and someone who creates interesting opinions. In the long run, his opinions have influenced many in the view of the Palestine conflict and the opposition between world religions. He writes about Big Questions that are important to us all."

Filming of Arn:
"The actual shooting of 'Arn' wasn't American at all. The finished result might be some sort of international standard. But for me it was the return to a Scandinavian shoot without hierarchies. All of that varies. Sometimes it's a question of a pure industrial production, and then the directors are expendable. But take 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' as an example. Gore Verbinski is a strong director filled with his own vision, and those scenes were a blast to make because we as actors were given great freedom despite all the massive scenes. But directors you'd like to replace might as well be about small independent films.

High and low budgets:
"Peter Flinth was never expendable. In a way, the whole 'Arn" project was a train he had to run right in front of. In Swedish terms, you might think we were talking about a big production. But considering what was to be done with six to eight hours of film, it was more like a low budget movie!"

Religion:
"After September 11th, the question of God's existance has been completely indifferent to me. If there were a good God who sees what I do in this world, and therefore doesn't send me to hell, he's too vain if he demands to be worshipped. When I listened to President Bush after September 11th, the man said he was appointed to this by God. I decided I would read the Bible and then the Koran. And both books are, if you choose to take them literally, horrible. Awful tales and horrible stories. If you don't follow the religion, you'll burn in hell for eternity. Amen. You separate the righteous from the infidels, and that is of course the source of all conflicts. Those who aren't with us are against as and shall therefore burn in hell!"

Feeling drawn to theatre:
"Sometimes I want to go back to theater. But it's been so long since I've been on a stage. I did do a reading in London with a few actors a few years ago though. When we rehearsed, I felt that it wasn't working. I panicked, and stood there waiting for my closeup, and it never came. But at the same time, when I walked in on stage that night, there was a sort of click in my spine - I was lifted, and everything is then sort of slower, but is very different and present. But theater actors have a whole different profession and are trained in another kind of way."

The best he's ever done:
"The very best I've done as an actor is Sven in 'Den enfaldige mördaren', the horrible Randbaek in 'Zero Kelvin', and the drunk Tomas Heller in 'Aberdeen'. I like these roles with a lot of space to act in. Remember that it's two films by norwegian director Hans Petter Moland. But those three characters are old, dear friends that live in me."


[With thanks to  Robin Solsjö Höglund  for his translation]