Acting legend Max von Sydow dies at age 90
It is with profound sadness that ComingSoon.net (via The Guardian) must report the passing of one of cinema’s true icons. The legendary Swedish stage and screen actor Max von Sydow has died at age 90 in Provence, France, leaving behind a legacy that spans over 70 years on the silver screen.
“It is with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max von Sydow on 8 March 2020,” his wife Catherine Brelet said in a statement.
Beginning his career on the Swedish stage, von Sydow had an auspicious launch in the movies as perhaps THE central collaborator with director Ingmar Bergman. From 1957’s landmark arthouse film The Seventh Seal (in which he portrays a knight who plays chess with Death) through 1971’s The Touch, Bergman and von Sydow made eleven pictures together. Other notable collaborations between the two include Wild Strawberries (1957), The Virgin Spring (1960) and The Passion of Anna (1969).
In 1965 von Sydow made the leap to Hollywood, and after turning down the villain role in Dr. No he made his studio debut as Jesus Christ in 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told. In 1973 he starred in arguably his best-known role as Father Merrin, the title character in William Friedkin’s horror blockbuster The Exorcist. He later reprised the role in the reviled sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic.
Over the next few decades he racked up roles in countless beloved classics and cult films, including as a hitman in Three Days of the Condor (1975), Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon (1980), King Osric in Conan the Barbarian (1982), Blofeld in Never Say Never Again (1983), Doctor Kynes in David Lynch’s Dune (1984), the uncredited voice of Vigo in Ghostbusters II (1989), Dr Peter Ingham in Awakenings (1990), the evil Leland Gaunt in Stephen King adaptation Needful Things (1993), Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (1995), the voice of Zeus in the Swedish dub of Disney’s Hercules (1997), as villain Lamar Burgess in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002), Varden Reynard in Rush Hour 3 (2007), Dr Jeremiah Naehring in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (2010) and as Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (2010).
In recent years he became known to a new generation of fans as the mysterious Lor San Tekka in J.J. Abrams’ 2015 phenomenon Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a highly memorable turn as the Three-eyed Raven on Game of Thrones. Von Sydow earned two Academy Award nominations for Pelle the Conqueror (1987) and a silent turn in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011).
Fans of the actor have long cherished this memorable moment from Bergman devotee Woody Allen’s 1986 dramedy Hannah and Her Sisters…
Here are some reactions to the death of Max von Sydow from Twitter…
— Tobias Tissen (@MrNiceGuybrush) March 9, 2020
“Do it, do it, do it. Watch good actors. See what they are doing and how they are doing it. You have to practically participate, I think, in order to develop yourself.”
Rest in peace, Max von Sydow, a film titan and one of the greatest actors to ever illuminate the screen. pic.twitter.com/BqEGesjOta
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) March 9, 2020
Goodnight, Max von Sydow, one of the greatest actors to ever grace the stage and screen, whose vigorous performances in films like THE SEVENTH SEAL will forever be carved into cinema history. pic.twitter.com/yfg4Oer2zU
— Criterion Collection (@Criterion) March 9, 2020
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
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
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
Farewell Max von Sydow. Can’t think of a stronger body of film work than his collaborations with Bergman. His performance in Shame especially is one of my absolute favourites of any performer as well as The Virgin Spring, The Seventh Seal and the endless list beyond those. pic.twitter.com/X7uqOFoXfu
— Adam Scovell (@AdamScovell) March 9, 2020
Hail Max von Sydow – gone now at 90 – one of the finest character actors ever to elevate every movie he generously appeared in.
“I’m not as serious as people think I am – I don’t even play chess.” pic.twitter.com/V6gy5vB8kc
— Marshall Julius (@MarshallJulius) 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
“Klytus, I’m bored.”
Max von Sydow portrayed so many amazing characters over his 90 years on this rock, but I’ll always remember him as Ming the Merciless in 1980’s FLASH GORDON. It *perfectly* showcases a classically trained master thespian’s grasp of melodrama and camp. pic.twitter.com/sTxLGgituB
— Ted Geoghegan (@tedgeoghegan) March 9, 2020
R.I.P. Max Von Sydow, who played Chief Judge Fargo in the 1995 Judge Dredd film. pic.twitter.com/QwW2npxulE
— 2000 AD Comics (@2000AD) March 9, 2020
We’re saddened to hear about the passing of Max von Sydow. He brought Esbern to life, and will forever be a noble member of the Blades in our heart.
Thank you for guiding the Dovahkiin in their battle against Alduin the World Eater. pic.twitter.com/WNr98Rt8ld
— Bethesda UK (@Bethesda_UK) March 9, 2020
This was the first Max Von Sydow film I ever saw. Being a kid, I just assumed he was a famous Canadian comedian. Turns out he was a lot more! https://t.co/JHextSeYEe
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) March 9, 2020
R.I.P. Max von Sydow (1929-2020) pic.twitter.com/oP2aQ23BlD
— Film at Lincoln Center (@FilmLinc) March 9, 2020
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)