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Max von Sydow (1929)

Max Carl Adolf von Sydow

Type :  


Max von Sydow is a Swedish actor. He has also held French citizenship since 2002. He has starred in many films and had supporting roles in dozens more. He has performed in films filmed in many languages, including Swedish, Norwegian, English, Italian, German, Danish, French and Spanish.

Some of his most memorable film roles include knight Antonius Block in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal , Jesus in George Stevens's The Greatest Story Ever Told, Father Merrin in Friedkin's The Exorcist, Joubert the assassin in Three Days of the Condor, Ming the Merciless in the 1980 version of Flash Gordon, Dr. Liet-Kynes in David Lynch's 1984 film version of Frank Herbert's novel Dune, and as Brewmeister Smith in the 1983 film Strange Brew.


 early life
Von Sydow was born Carl Adolf von Sydow to a wealthy family in Lund, Skåne, Sweden. His father, Carl Wilhelm von Sydow, was an ethnologist and professor of Irish, Scandinavian and comparative folklore at the University of Lund. His mother, Baroness Greta (née Rappe), was a school teacher. Von Sydow was brought up as a Lutheran and later became an agnostic.

He attended the Cathedral School of Lund, and learned German and English starting at the age of nine. At school, he and some friends founded an amateur theatre company. He completed National Service before studying at the Royal Dramatic Theatre ("Dramaten") in Stockholm, where he trained between 1948 and 1951 with the likes of Lars Ekborg, Margaretha Krook and Ingrid Thulin. During his time at Dramaten, he made his screen debut in Alf Sjöberg's films Only a Mother , and Miss Julie (Fröken Julie, 1951), a screen version of Swedish playwright August Strindberg's well known play.

In 1955 he moved to Malmö, where he met his mentor, Ingmar Bergman. His first work with Bergman occurred on stage at the Malmö Municipal Theatre. Von Sydow later would work with Bergman on films such as The Seventh Seal , Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället, 1957) and The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukällan, 1960). In The Seventh Seal, von Sydow is the knight who plays a chess game with Death to buy time for his companions. The scene and the film were both international breakthroughs for actor and director alike. It was in these films where von Sydow honed and perfected his craft.

Von Sydow came to dominate the screen as he did the stage, becoming an idol of the international arthouse film scene. Critical recognition came as early as 1954 when he was awarded the Royal Foundation Culture Award. He worked profusely on both stage and screen while in Scandinavia, resisting the increasing calls from the United States to go to Hollywood.

After being seen in Bergman's Academy Award–winning films and having been first choice for the title role of Dr. No, von Sydow finally went to America after agreeing to star in the film which led to much greater recognition, in the role of Jesus in George Stevens' all-star epic The Greatest Story Ever Told . Because his talents were soon in demand in other American productions, von Sydow and his family eventually moved to Los Angeles.

From 1965, von Sydow became a regular on the American screen while maintaining a presence in his native Sweden. In 1969 he appeared in John Huston's The Kremlin Letter. Though perhaps typecast as a villain, he was rewarded in the United States with two Golden Globe nominations, for Hawaii in 1966 and The Exorcist in 1973. In the mid-1970s, von Sydow moved to Rome and appeared in a number of Italian films, becoming friendly with another screen legend, Marcello Mastroianni. In the U.S., he played a memorably professional Alsatian assassin in Three Days of the Condor , a role which won him the KCFCC Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, von Sydow appeared in such films as Flash Gordon , Strange Brew , David Lynch's Dune , and Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters . In 1985, he was a member of the jury at the 35th Berlin International Film Festival. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the Danish film Pelle the Conqueror , which itself won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Von Sydow has since won the Australian Film Institute's Best Actor Award for his title role in Father , the Guldbagge Best Director Award for his only directorial foray, Katinka , based on a novel by Herman Bang, and the Best Actor Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival for The Silent Touch (Dotknięcie ręki, 1993). He received international acclaim for his performance as Nobel Prize–winning novelist Knut Hamsun in Jan Troell's biopic Hamsun. He received his third Swedish Guldbagge and his second Danish Bodil for his depiction of a character often described as his King Lear. In 1996, he starred in Liv Ullmann's Private Confessions . Back in Hollywood, he appeared in What Dreams May Come.

He was acclaimed for his role as an elderly lawyer in Scott Hicks' Snow Falling on Cedars. In 2002, von Sydow had one of his largest commercial successes, co-starring with Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg's science fiction thriller Minority Report. In 2003, he played mentor character Eyvind in the European TV adaptation of the Ring of the Nibelung saga. The show set ratings records and was released in the USA as Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King. In 2007, von Sydow starred in the box-office hit Rush Hour 3. He followed that with Julian Schnabel's award-winning foreign film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, based on the memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

Recently, von Sydow appeared in Showtime's drama series The Tudors, where he portrayed Cardinal Otto Truchsess Von Waldburg, a German-born clergyman who tries to organize the defeat of King Henry VIII. He also appeared in Martin Scorsese's 2010 film adaptation of Shutter Island and Ridley Scott's 2010 adaption of Robin Hood, playing Robin's blind stepfather, Sir Walter Loxley.

Von Sydow voices the character of Esbern in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was released on November 11, 2011. He narrates the initial teaser trailer for the game.

 personal life
On 1 August 1951, von Sydow married actress Christina Inga Britta Olin, (1926 - 1998), with whom he has two sons, Claes and Henrik. His children appeared with him in the film Hawaii, playing his son at different ages. He divorced Olin 26 February 1979.

Von Sydow then married French filmmaker Catherine Brelet on 30 April 1997 in Provence; they have two sons, Cedric and Yvan . He currently lives with his wife in Paris, where he enjoys reading, listening to music and gardening. He received French citizenship in 2002.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Max von Sydow", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.