NOTE: This blog entry originally appeared in February 2012
by Chad Campbell, senior producer
Actor Max von Sydow first came to my attention as the arch villain Ming the Merciless in the 1980 Flash Gordon remake. I was an impressionable nine year old then. A year later, von Sydow was a soccer loving, “nice” Nazi officer in Victory. Next I saw him as Brewmeister Smith in Strange Brew. I probably didn’t know what range was back then, but Max von Sydow has demonstrated that he has it - though he complains that he’s been typecast during his six decade career on stage and screen. He has portrayed priests, doctors, popes, cardinals, dads, grandfathers, a James Bond villain, Jesus Christ and the devil to name just a few more of his many roles. His latest earned von Sydow an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category. In Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, he plays “The Renter” and his character does not speak a word in the film, having taken a vow of silence decades earlier. Before all of those movie and TV roles, von Sydow worked on the Swedish stage performing an untold number of plays with the acclaimed director Ingmar Bergman. He still reveres his mentor and credits Bergman for making him better. The pair went on to produce 11 films together, including The Seventh Seal, where von Sydow is a knight who challenges Death to a game of chess.
And just for fun, here’s a delightful stop-action re-imagining of that scene called The Seventh Skol.