Max von Sydow, the legendary Swedish actor from film classics The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist, as well as recent genre fare like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Game of Thrones, has died at the age of 90. “It’s with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max von Sydow on March 8, 2020,” his widow, French documentary filmmaker and producer Catherine von Sydow, wrote in a statement released to the public on Monday.
Born in Lund, Sweden, in 1940, von Sydow’s remarkably long career stretches back to the 1940s. But his breakthrough performance came in 1957’s The Seventh Seal, the first of his 11 films with director Ingmar Bergman. In it, he plays a game of Chess against Death personified — it’s great. von Sydow would later be nominated for two Oscars, Best Actor for Pelle the Conqueror and Best Supporting Actor for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (he lost both), and should have been nominated for portraying Father Lankester Merrin in The Exorcist. He’s perhaps best known to contemporary audiences as Lor San Tekka in The Force Awakens and the wise Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones, and like every famous person ever, voiced a character on The Simpsons. (He’s also the terrifying voice of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II!)
“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,” Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright wrote on Twitter, one of the many tributes to von Sydow on social media.
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
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
There is no better, neater definition of cinema than Max von Sydow’s face.
— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) 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
“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
(Via the Hollywood Reporter)