Max von Sydow Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (28)  | Personal Quotes (19)

Overview (4)

Born in Lund, Skåne län, Sweden
Died in Seillans, Var, France  (undisclosed causes)
Birth NameCarl Adolf von Sydow
Height 6' 4" (1.93 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Max von Sydow was born Carl Adolf von Sydow on April 10, 1929 in Lund, Skåne, Sweden, to a middle-class family. He was the son of Baroness Maria Margareta (Rappe), a teacher, and Carl Wilhelm von Sydow, an ethnologist and folklore professor. His surname traces back to his partial German ancestry.

When he was in high school, he and a few fellow students, including Yvonne Lombard, started a theatre club which encouraged his interest in acting. After conscription, he began to study at the Royal Dramatic Theatre's acting school (1948-1951), together with Lars Ekborg, Margaretha Krook and Ingrid Thulin. His first role was as Nils the crofter in Alf Sjöberg's Only a Mother (1949). After graduation, he worked at the city theatres in Norrköping and Malmö.

His work in the movies by Ingmar Bergman (especially The Seventh Seal (1957), including the iconic scenes in which he plays chess with Death) made him well-known internationally, and he started to get offers from abroad. His career abroad began with him playing Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); Hawaii (1966) and The Quiller Memorandum (1966). Since then, his career includes very different kind of characters, like Karl Oskar Nilsson in The Emigrants (1971); Father Lankester Merrin in The Exorcist (1973); Joubert the assassin in Three Days of the Condor (1975), Emperor Ming in Flash Gordon (1980); the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again (1983); Liet-Kynes in Dune (1984) the artist Frederick in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986); Lassefar in Pelle the Conqueror (1987), for which he received his first Academy Award nomination; Dr. Peter Ingham in Awakenings (1990); Lamar Burgess in Minority Report (2002) and The Renter in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), which earned him his second Academy Award nomination.

He became one of Sweden's most admired and professional actors, and is the only male Swedish actor to receive an Oscar nomination. He was nominated twice: for Pelle the Conqueror (1987) in 1988 and for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) in 2012. He received the Guldbagge Award for Best Director in his directing debut, the drama film Katinka (1988). In 2016, he joined the sixth season of the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011) as the Three-eyed Raven, which earned him his Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

Max von Sydow died on March 8, 2020, in Provence, France, and was survived by his wife Catherine Brelet and four children. He was 90.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mattias Thuresson

Family (3)

Spouse Catherine Brelet (30 April 1997 - 8 March 2020)  (his death)  (2 children)
Christina Olin (1 August 1951 - 1979)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Children Clas S. von Sydow
Henrik von Sydow
Parents Rappe, Maria Margareta
von Sydow, Carl Wilhelm

Trade Mark (5)

Deep commanding voice
His towering height, sandy hair and thin face
Often played stern, oppressive characters
Often appeared in Ingmar Bergman's films
His ability to convincingly portray deeply complex emotions with minimal dialogue

Trivia (28)

Had four sons, Clas S. von Sydow and Henrik von Sydow with his first wife; and Cédric and Yvan with his second wife. In 1951, von Sydow married actress Christina Olin with whom he had two sons, Claes and Henrik. His children appeared with him in the film Hawaii (1966), playing his son at different ages. He and Olin divorced on 26 February 1979 then he married French filmmaker Catherine Brelet in April 1997 in the Provence, France. He had two sons, Yvan and Cedric, with his second wife. Cédric has appeared and has worked with him since 1994. von Sydow resided in Paris, France with his second wife.
He was offered the title role in the first James Bond film Dr. No (1962), which went to Joseph Wiseman.
One of his favorite movies was Pelle the Conqueror (1987).
Had resided in Los Angeles, California, Rome, Italy and Paris, France.
He was one of the few actors to have played both God (in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)) and the Devil (in Needful Things (1993)).
Distant relative of Swedish speaker of parliament and ex-minister of defence, Björn von Sydow.
Had appeared in two films as a leading villain, in which plots include the use of eye replacement surgery as a means of fooling security eye scanners; as Blofeld in Never Say Never Again (1983) and Lamar Burgess in Minority Report (2002).
He appeared in 13 films directed by Ingmar Bergman: The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Mr. Sleeman Is Coming (1957), Brink of Life (1958), The Magician (1958), Rabies (1958), The Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Shame (1968), The Passion of Anna (1969) and The Touch (1971).
He was co-head of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1985.
After not appearing in an Ingmar Bergman film since The Touch (1971), von Sydow was reunited with the master, playing his grandfather in The Best Intentions (1991). While the film was directed by Bille August, the screenplay was written by Ingmar Bergman. Ironically, despite all the classic work von Sydow did with Ingmar Bergman such as the Knight in The Seventh Seal (1957), the eponymous role in The Magician (1958), and the father in The Virgin Spring (1960), his first Oscar nomination came under the hand of Bille August, for Pelle the Conqueror (1987).
He was one of very few actors to be nominated for an Oscar for a role in a foreign language film, for his performance in Pelle the Conqueror (1987).
His performance as Lasse Karlsson in Pelle the Conqueror (1987) is ranked #57 on Premiere magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Fluent in a number of languages, including Swedish, English, French and Italian.
In 2002, he received his French citizenship, at which time he had to renounce his Swedish citizenship.
Most of his ancestry was Swedish. His parents also both had more distant German roots, and his mother had a remote Scottish ancestor.
He was among the actors in the running for Dr. Hans Fallada in the horror film Lifeforce (1985). Frank Finlay was cast instead.
Appeared in five films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: The Emigrants (1971), The Exorcist (1973), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Awakenings (1990) and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011).
His second Oscar nomination (Best Supporting Actor for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)) came at age 82, which was the same age as front-runner Christopher Plummer who was competing with him in the category (also in a second nomination). Plummer won the Oscar for Beginners (2010), in a role previously turned down by von Sydow.
He and his The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) co-stars Donald Pleasence and Telly Savalas all later played the Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Pleasence in You Only Live Twice (1967), Savalas in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) and von Sydow in Never Say Never Again (1983).
He was one of six Swedish actors to be nominated for an Academy Award. The others are Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Ann-Margret, Lena Olin and Alicia Vikander. von Sydow is the only male Swedish actor to be nominated for an Oscar.
In his career, he had played Jesus, Satan, and was also the title character in the horror classic The Exorcist (1973).
He was considered for the role of William Fawcett Robinson in Somewhere in Time (1980) before Christopher Plummer was cast.
Adoptive father of Yvan and Cédric Brelet von Sydow, children of Catherine Brelet from a previous marriage.
Max von Sydow passed away on March 8, 2020, one month away from what would have been his 91st birthday on April 10.
He never retired from acting.
Is one of 4 Swedish actors to have received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. The others in chronological order are: Ingrid Bergman, Alexander Skarsgård, and Stellan Skarsgård.
First Swedish male actor to have received a Golden Globe nomination. The second was Alexander Skarsgård.

Personal Quotes (19)

The theater is more a medium for an actor than the cinema is. You are totally responsible for what you do on the stage; in a film, someone else can come in and edit you and do something totally different to what you had in mind originally, and they can cut you out, play around with the scenes or the chronology of the story. This happens always-more or less-in the cinema. On the stage, you deliver a performance and that is your responsibility. So filmmaking is much more a director's medium than it is an actor's.
If I watch my old films, for example The Seventh Seal (1957), I realize I do a lot of stage acting there; I have always been disturbed by the declamatory fashion in which I speak in a film like that. But then television suddenly swept through Sweden, and we were all soon accustomed to realism, from newsreels, talk shows, and then of course there was the Method school of acting, which exerted an influence in Europe also. Today, theater actors, and film actors with a stage background, use a different style to the one we subscribed to during the 1940s and 1950s. Bergman's dialog in those days was very stylized, so it would have been difficult for me to speak those lines realistically.
Sometimes I receive strange letters, and occasionally people come up to me in the street and say odd things. They want to be deceived, so it is difficult to disabuse them. At times, it is tiring not to be allowed to be a private person. If you are really marked out as a film star in the United States, then it must be absolutely exhausting and hard to maintain your integrity. Fortunately, Swedes are very reserved as a people and seldom show their emotions or feelings in public, so one is not subject to that kind of pressure in the country where I come from.
I admire people like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Spencer Tracy, who seem to be so very real-I don't know how they do it. When I was young, I admired Leslie Howard enormously, in films like The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Pygmalion (1938). Also Gary Cooper; perhaps he was not a great actor, but he had a great presence.
At home [in Sweden], the actor's profession was not considered particularly reputable, but being an actor or star in a Hollywood film was something very important in American eyes. Then I slowly realized that as an actor in Sweden you were allowed to be involved in some kind of artistic project which could be a flop and yet still be justifiable if it carried artistic weight and ambitions. In Hollywood, on the other hand, if you do not succeed you are nobody. You become a mere piece of paper with a figure on it. You are just as good-or bad-as your last film was financially. And while Sweden remains sufficiently small for you to work in, say, Malmö and still make films in Stockholm, in the States you either work in Hollywood or you live somewhere else and you work for the legitimate theater.
I have been brought up as a stage actor and there is where I feel at home, but I still feel that the cinema has one great advantage over the theater. Namely, proximity to the audience. Of course in a film an actor always has only himself as an audience while on a stage he can achieve a result along with his audience. However, when you stand on a stage, you can never work with your face in the same way as you can in front of a camera.
I am considered to be an intellectual actor and I also am one inasmuch as I want to be aware of what I am doing. But I never try to influence the writing of the manuscript.
Many persons believe that an actor must identify himself with his role. I do not do that, although I do become involved with my parts while I play them. But I find it a virtue to do things which are not of myself. This is the Swedish concept of an actor.
You have to get more involved in a [Ingmar Bergman] film than you do in others, because it deals with much deeper and more philosophic questions than the average movie. He also establishes a much closer relationship with his actors and technicians than would ever be possible on larger productions.
I don't think they [Ingmar Bergman's roles] were written for me as a personality. Many of his characters through the years have been related: there are those who want to believe but cannot, and there are those who believe like children and it's no problem for them at all, and there are those who do not want to believe, and there are the strains between these various characters and their conflicts, which are all probably conflicts within Ingmar himself.
People seem to think I'm a very religious person, very serious, that I'm an old man by now - and that I play a great deal of chess. Actually, I'm a family person. I'm rather private. I enjoy my work very much when it's interesting and, fortunately, it's been mostly interesting. I like nature and being outdoors. I'm a gardener at my summer home. I like to travel. I'm not as serious as they think I am - I don't even play chess. And I really don't know myself too well.
Acting is such a weird profession. It's such a futile thing. Even when it's there on film, there's nothing really to it. It is not like making a piece of furniture or writing a book.
[on how he wants people to perceive him] I want people to think, "Maybe there is something more there." I want to be a mystery.
When we were filming The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), we were in Utah and many of the people on the set expected me to behave like Jesus all the time, day and night. But it's not method acting, is it? I couldn't have my wife visit me openly because Jesus was not married, and I couldn't take a drink and relax when I was Christ. It's much easier now.
[on making The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)] Playing Christ, I began to feel shut away from the world. A newspaper became one of my biggest luxuries. I noticed that some of my close friends began treating me with reverence. Playing the role of Christ was like being in a prison. It was the hardest part I've ever had to play in my life. I couldn't smoke or drink in public. I couldn't. The most difficult part of playing Christ was that I had to keep up the image around the clock. As soon as the picture finished, I returned home to Sweden and tried to find my old self. It took six months to get back to normal. When I finished the role of Christ, I felt as though I'd been let out on parole. A man who has served 18 months isn't eager to go back to prison.
You see, I had an odd upbringing. My father was a scholar, a professor in the town where I was born, and his subject was folklore. He was a master at telling stories -- folk tales and adventures. I was very shy as a boy, and heard more fairy tales than the average child because of my father. This and my shyness prompted my imagination, and led to an interest in make believe.
I want variety, and I have had it, but at times it's been difficult and tough to achieve because people have a tendency to typecast you. If you have been successful doing one thing, they want you to copy that success all the time. And I hate that.
[2012] The characters they offer me are most of the time grandfathers, or old fathers who are nice people but not terribly interesting. Most of the time they're not very well, and very often they die on page 36.
The film you hear about the most is The Exorcist (1973). When people come up to me and say, 'Oh, you scared me!' I was the good guy in that film!

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