Share
View All

Watch It

In Theaters
  • Jerusalem

  • Minority Report

  • Dune

  • Flash Gordon

  • The Emigrants

1 of 5
At Home
  • The Best Intentions

  • Muumi ja punainen pyrstotahti

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • March or Die

  • Solomon Kane

  • Branded

  • Death Watch

  • Brass Target

  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

  • Code Name: Emerald

1 of 10

Max von Sydow Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Apr 10, 1929
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001
  • Birth Name: Carl Adolf von Sydow

Standing over six feet-four inches tall, the bony Swedish actor Max von Sydow spent much of his acting career portraying stern, oppressive characters. Born to a family of academics in Lund, Sweden, von Sydow studied at the Royal Dramatic School in Stockholm, where he made his screen debut in [[Feature~V143280~Only a Mother~baraenmor]] and married his first wife, actress Christina Olin. In 1956, he moved to Malmö and met director [[Performer~P81548~Ingmar Bergman~ingmarbergman]] at the Malmo Municipal Theatre. After starring in [[Feature~V43870~The Seventh Seal~theseventhseal]], von Sydow went on to star in more than a dozen films with [[Performer~P81548~Bergman~ingmarbergman]], including [[Feature~V54583~Wild Strawberries~wildstrawberries]], [[Feature~V201792~Virgin Spring~ohsoojung]], [[Feature~V49806~Through a Glass Darkly~throughaglassdarkly]], and [[Feature~V54902~Winter Light~winterlight]]. He worked almost exclusively with [[Performer~P81548~Bergman~ingmarbergman]]'s acting company until 1965, when he took the role as Jesus in [[Performer~P118815~George Stevens~georgestevens]]' epic [[Feature~V20845~The Greatest Story Ever Told~thegreateststoryevertold]]. This part opened the door to American films, where he was often typecast in strong, humorless roles, like the rigid missionary Abner Hale in [[Feature~V21708~Hawaii~hawaii]]. In the '70s, he went back to Sweden to work with [[Performer~P81548~Bergman~ingmarbergman]] in four more films and appeared opposite frequent co-star [[Performer~P114863~Liv Ullmann~livullmann]] in [[Performer~P114581~Jan Troell~jantroell]]'s two-part saga [[Feature~V90413~The Emigrants~theemigrants]] and [[Feature~V103816~The New Land~nybyggarna]]. It wasn't until 1973 that he made his first big Hollywood blockbuster with the role of Father Merrin [[Feature~V16331~The Exorcist~theexorcist]], which he reprised in [[Feature~V146750~Exorcist II: The Heretic~exorcistii:theheretic]]. Moving to Rome in the '80s, von Sydow had a fun role as Ming the Merciless in [[Feature~V17730~Flash Gordon~flashgordon]], played Barbara Hershey's intense artist boyfriend in [[Feature~V21429~Hannah and Her Sisters~hannahandhersisters]], and received his first Oscar nomination and numerous other awards for his work in [[Feature~V37621~Pelle the Conqueror~pelletheconqueror]] (1988). After making his directorial debut with [[Feature~V119685~Katinka~katinka]], he worked in several theater projects and a couple of biblical TV miniseries ([[Feature~V42721~Sampson & Delilah~samsonanddelilah]] and [[Feature~V39931~Quo Vadis~quovadis]]). It was during this time that he was cast as the devil in the [[Performer~P97473~Stephen King~stephenking]] film adaptation [[Feature~V34722~Needful Things~needfulthings]], marking von Sydow as the only actor to play both God and Satan. He also appeared in [[Feature~V134919~Judge Dredd~judgedredd]] and [[Performer~P116407~Wim Wenders~wimwenders]]' [[Feature~V51943~Until the End of the World~untiltheendoftheworld]]. He continued acting sporadically in Hollywood for [[Feature~V172903~What Dreams May Come~whatdreamsmaycome]] and [[Feature~V181150~Snow Falling on Cedars~snowfallingoncedars]]. Moving on to the international circuit, he appeared in [[Feature~V259381~Intacto~intacto]] (Spain), [[Feature~V237168~Vercingetorix~druids]] (France), and [[Feature~V242034~Non ho Sonno~sleepless]] (Italy). In 2002, he co-starred with [[Performer~P86295~Tom Cruise~tomcruise]] for the [[Performer~P112325~Steven Spielberg~stevenspielberg]] blockbuster [[Feature~V262610~Minority Report~minorityreport]].

He continued to work steadily throughout the decade in projects as diverse as Rush Hour 3, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Shutter Island. Coming nearly sixty years after his earliest film work, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close earned the venerable actor his second Oscar nomination - a Best Supporting Actor nod for his portrayal of a mute grandfather. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Advertisement