MAX VON SYDOW Biography - Actors and Actresses


Biography » actors and actresses » max von sydow


Name: Max Carl Adolf von Sydow                                                               
Born: 10 April 1929 Lund, Skåne, Sweden                                                     
Max Carl Adolf von Sydow (born April 10, 1929) is an Academy Award-nominated                 
Swedish actor, known in particular for his collaboration with filmmaker Ingmar               
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, Friherrinnan (Baroness) Greta (née Rappe), was a school teacher.                     
Little material is available on his childhood, except that he was apparently a               
shy, quiet child with no siblings.                                                           
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, where his acting career began. He completed National Service                 
before going on to study 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 (Bara en Mor, 1949), and Miss Julie (Fröken           
Julie, 1951), a screen version of Swedish playwright August Strindberg's well                 
known play.                                                                                   
In 1955, Von Sydow 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 (Det                   
Sjunde inseglet, 1957), 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 -- a scene and a                 
film which were both breakthroughs for the director.                                         
It was in these films that von Sydow perfected his craft, beginning to display               
the great talent that enabled a 53 year screen career. Von Sydow came to                     
dominate the screen as he did on stage, becoming an idol of the international                 
arthouse. Critical recognition came as early as 1954 when he was awarded the                 
Royal Foundation Culture Award. Von Sydow worked profusely on stage and screen               
in Scandinavia and resisted 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 was to lead to much greater                 
recognition, in the role of Jesus in George Stevens' grandly titled, all-star                 
epic The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). 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. Though perhaps typecast as a villain, he was                   
rewarded in the United States with two Golden Globe nominations for Hawaii 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 (1975). In the late 1970s and early 1980s,               
von Sydow appeared in both serious films, such as Woody Allen's Hannah and Her               
Sisters (1986) and David Lynch's Dune (1984), and less serious ones, like Flash               
Gordon (1980) and Strange Brew (1983).                                                       
Von Sydow has since won The Australian Film Institute Best Actor Award for his               
title role in Father (1989), the Guldbagge Best Director Award for his only                   
directorial foray Katinka (Ved vejen, 1988), 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, von Sydow starred in Liv Ullmann's                 
Private Confessions (Enskilda samtal). Back in Hollywood, he appeared in What                 
Dreams May Come in a role which was something of a tip of the hat to his                     
performance in The Exorcist.                                                                 
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 widely popular sci-fi thriller Minority                 
Report. In 2003, he played mentor character Eyvind in the European TV adaptation             
of the "Ring of the Nibelungs" 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         
Von Sydow will next star in Truth & Treason, opposite Haley Joel Osment. The                 
film will be based on Helmuth Hübener's life during World War II. He has also               
been recently casted as Josiah Kane in Soloman Kane, based on the story and                   
characters by Robert E. Howard. In February of 2008, Von Sydow was casted in                 
Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Shutter Island.