There are not a lot of actors who not only live long lives but also remain active in their careers right up until the end. One of these decades-long luminaries is Max von Sydow. Born in Sweden in 1929, he built a solid foundation for a lifelong career in acting, first on the stage and then in film and television. Even better, while already made legendary by roles in his early career, von Sydow was able to keep himself relevant by portraying key roles in more recent productions. Thus, when he passed away this past Sunday, a decade short of a full century, the Swedish acting star was greatly mourned.
CBS News tells us that Max von Sydow was announced by his agent to have died last March 8 at the ripe age of 90. While born in Sweden, the veteran actor was a citizen of France since 2002, and it was at his home there that he passed on, according to Jean Diamond and Max’s widow, Catherine von Sydow. He had left behind quite the lengthy filmography of roles with his first onscreen work in a 1949 movie, which is not bad for somebody who had once described himself to be a “shy boy.”
But despite his own descriptor, von Sydow has seen himself become part of cinema legend, thanks to his role in the 1957 Swedish movie “The Seventh Seal” directed by longtime collaborator Ingmar Bergman, where he plays a knight who plays chess with Death to spare himself from dying in the Black Plague. Max’s other notable big-screen roles include Jesus in “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965), Father Merrin in “The Exorcist” (1973), and Ming the Merciless in “Flash Gordon” (1980).
Even in the 21st Century Max von Sydow was able to remain a household name. In 2011 he provided his voice talents in the hit videogame “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.” He had a guest voice role in “The Simpsons” (2014) and became part of the “Star Wars” franchise in 2015’s “The Force Awakens” as Lor Sar Tekka. Finally in 2016 Max portrayed a memorable season 6 character the Three-Eyed Raven, in HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Such a variety of roles played into how von Sydow described his acting style as stated in interview: “What I as an actor look for is a variety of parts. It is very boring to be stuck in more or less one type of character.”
Image courtesy of The Wrap