Facts about Max Von Sydow
Max Von Sydow Biography
Swedish actor Max von Sydow’s long career included two super-highlights: his roles as the knight who plays chess with Death in Ingmar Bergman‘s The Seventh Seal (1957), and as the priest who rescues little Linda Blair from evil in The Exorcist (1973).
Max Von Sydow trained for the Swedish stage and made his film debut in 1949, the year he turned 20. He gained international recognition for his performance in Bergman films during the 1950s, including Wild Strawberries (1957), The Magician (1958) and The Virgin Spring (1959). During his career, Von Sydow appeared in 11 Bergman films. He was only 43 when he filmed The Exorcist, starring as the “elderly” priest Father Merrin, who dies of a heart attack while battling the devil.
His first role in an American movie was as Jesus Christ in 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told (co-starring John Wayne), and he went on to appear in dozens of movies, usually as a taciturn villain or authority figure. Among those roles: A frosty hit man (1975’s Three Days of the Condor, with Robert Redford); an Asian supervillian (1980’s Flash Gordon); a cynical artist (1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters, by Woody Allen); a devilish shopkeeper (1993’s Needful Things, with Ed Harris); and a shadowy government boss (2002’s Minority Report, by Steven Spielberg).
His performance in 1988’s Pelle the Conqueror earned him several international awards as well as an Oscar nomination as best actor, making him the first native Swede to be nominated as best actor. Max von Sydow was nominated for an Emmy in 2016 for his role as a guest star in Game of Thrones.