Actor Max von Sydow has passed away at the age of 90.
Best known for his roles in The Exorcist and Game of Thrones, von Sydow appeared in more than 100 films and TV series throughout his life.
His family have announced the sad news ‘with a broken heart and infinite sadness’. He reportedly died on Sunday, March 8.
The news of his death was confirmed by his wife, film producer Catherine von Sydow, who he married in 1997.
Speaking with Paris Match, she said:
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 March 8, 2020.
Max von Sydow (1929-2020), world cinema's rock of ages. Ancient & elemental even in his youth. The Exorcist, Hannah & Her Sisters, most of the great Bergmans. Played Death & won back in 1957 pic.twitter.com/TFuuU0EGgA
— Xan Brooks (@XanBrooks) March 9, 2020
Another legend lost. So many good films heightened by his presence. Too numerous to mention. RIP Max von Sydow. pic.twitter.com/Y7EcR9Tomu
— Richard Littler (@richard_littler) March 9, 2020
R.I.P. Max Von Sydow, fly on the wings of Pazuzu my friend pic.twitter.com/MLiQNuJK85
— Davis. (@realdaveimboden) March 9, 2020
Max von Sydow’s film credits span more than six decades, including roles in iconic films such as Minority Report (2002), Shutter Island (2010) and The Exorcist (1973), where he played the doomed Father Lankester Merrin.
One of the most memorable roles of his career was in The Seventh Seal (1957), which included an eerie scene where his character played a game of chess against Death itself.
The veteran actor continued working in later life, voicing a character in The Simpsons in 2014 and playing the mysterious Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones in 2016. He also played Lor San Tekka in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
— Tobias Tissen (@MrNiceGuybrush) March 9, 2020
R.I.P. to the all time great Max Von Sydow pic.twitter.com/0dLfTN2b4K
— Justin (@JustinByDawn) March 9, 2020
RIP Max Von Sydow. I was starting to think he would live forever, but he certainly has achieved screen immortality. An absolute king of cinema, from THE SEVENTH SEAL to STRANGE BREW, what a legend pic.twitter.com/7yqDzBmYny
— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) March 9, 2020
Born in Lund, Sweden, in 1929 to a folklore professor father and teacher mother, von Sydow began his career through collaborations with renowned Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, with whom he worked with on 11 movies.
This included revered cinematic classics such as Wild Strawberries (1957) and The Virgin Spring (1960).
von Sydow went on to become one of very few actors to receive an Oscar nomination for a role in a foreign language film, for his portrayal of Lassefar ‘Lasse’ Karlsson Pelle the Conqueror (1987).
His second Oscar nomination came when he was 82 years old, for his moving portrayal of Thomas Schell Sr./’The Renter’ in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011).
Now there was an actor. This picture of Max von Sydow at KVIFF is from 1994. pic.twitter.com/pLHIqe1zTy
— Ian Willoughby (@Ian_Willoughby) March 9, 2020
Oh no. RIP Gurney (Max Von Sydow) – always a reliable and varied actor.
(Seen here with the Sheriff of Nottingham, Picard and Agent Cooper) pic.twitter.com/YKKEWs241C
— ToboBobo (@tobobobo) March 9, 2020
You could well argue that watching the just departed Max von Sydow’s filmography will give you more of an education than years of film school – his work was not only prolific but ran the gamut and encompassed cinema in all its colourful, powerful glory. pic.twitter.com/icAgJY5Jg2
— Garth Franklin (@darkhorizons) March 9, 2020
von Sydow’s deep, authoritative voice, 6″4 stature and tendency to play stern characters made him an instantly recognisable and distinctive actor.
Although widely regarded to be an individual who took on weighty, intellectual roles, von Sydow also had a more light-hearted side.
Reflecting upon his ‘serious’ reputation, von Sydow once said as per his IMDb page:
People seem to think I’m a very religious person, very serious, that I’m an old man by now – and that I play a great deal of chess.
Actually, I’m a family person. I’m rather private. I enjoy my work very much when it’s interesting and, fortunately, it’s been mostly interesting. I like nature and being outdoors. I’m a gardener at my summer home.
I like to travel. I’m not as serious as they think I am – I don’t even play chess. And I really don’t know myself too well.
Too many great performances to mention in Twitter characters. He was incredible in my favourite horror movie of all time, which I’m going to watch today as tribute. Rest well #maxvonsydow pic.twitter.com/GmmI8spuuz
— Mike Beckingham (@Becksmeister) March 9, 2020
— Andrew Daintith (@TellySavalas) March 9, 2020
Our thoughts are with the family of Max von Sydow at this difficult time.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.