In a 2015 article, the Atlantic’s Terrence Rafferty called Max von Sydow “the greatest actor” of our day. And if you’ve seen his work, you know that there’s a distinct possibility that is true.
The Oscar-nominated actor passed away on Sunday at the age of 90.
Von Sydow turned out critically-acclaimed performances in “The Seventh Seal,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Minority Report,” “Rush Hour 3,” “Shutter Island,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and several more films. In television, he had roles in “Game of Thrones” and “The Simpsons.”
Max von Sydow was born in Lund, Sweden in 1929. As a young adult he studied at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, and began landing small screen roles in the early fifties.
Since then, he has appeared in films from countries across the globe. His talent was evident in every role he played, whether a priest, a clairvoyant, a family lawyer, a Roman emperor or a Greek god. He earned several awards as both an actor and director.
Von Sydow married Catherine Brelet in 1997 and became a French citizen in the process, living in France until his death.
The actor was often cast as a villain due to his figure being so “tall and lanky, with sullen blue eyes, a narrow face, pale complexion and a deep and accented speaking voice,” says AP.
But even though he was frequently typecast, von Sydow was keenly aware that he was not to be pinned down. In a 2011 interview with Now Toronto’s Norman Wilner, the actor said,
“When you have a certain success with a certain type of character, [you’re] frequently asked to do it again, with some other name, some other surroundings, et cetera. But that is very boring for an actor. I want to fight it, because that’s not my thing.”
Fellow actors, friends and family are coming together to remember this accomplished artist.
Here was Max Von Sydow with his dear friend, master cinematographer, Sven Nykvist. Two great artists. Two true gentlemen. We were working on Bora Bora. I picture Max in heaven wearing his white linen suit, w Sven, Ingmar Bergman, Bibi Andersson, laughing & loving each other 💔 pic.twitter.com/ENdcB9bPKZ
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) March 9, 2020
R.I.P. Max von Sydow (1929 – 2020) pic.twitter.com/fuH3otSD8B
— Lost In Film (@LostInFilm) March 9, 2020
Legendary actor Max von Sydow, who played Lor San Tekka in The Force Awakens, has passed away at the age of 90. May the Force be with you. pic.twitter.com/q5JWK0qJn3
— Star Wars Holocron (@sw_holocron) March 9, 2020
The legendary actor who gave us both Brewmeister Smith and Ming the Merciless has finally laid down his King in the eternal chess match. Farewell, Max von Sydow. You were in many much more respected movies than Strange Brew and Flash Gordon but I loved you for those flicks first. https://t.co/ltytehF5Rm
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) March 9, 2020
Max Von Sydow, such an iconic presence in cinema for seven decades, it seemed like he'd always be with us. He changed the face of international film with Bergman, played Christ, fought the devil, pressed the HOT HAIL button & was Oscar nominated for a silent performance. A god. pic.twitter.com/klhJ9RusdQ
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 9, 2020
Max von Sydow won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Career Achievement Award in 2017. At the time, they wrote,
“From iconic roles in ‘The Seventh Seal’ and ‘Pelle the Conqueror’ to his most recent turns in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and ‘Game of Thrones,’ Max von Sydow remains a massively vital actor whose extraordinary work inspires us all.”
If you haven’t seen a von Sydow performance yet, now’s the time to dive into his lengthy filmography. In the meantime, we wish peace and healing for his family and friends.