Max von Sydow, the Sweden-born French actor whose credits included Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, and the role of Emperor Ming in Flash Gordon, has died at the age of 90.
The actor’s 65-year career spanned acclaimed arthouse, Hollywood blockbusters, and television. In recent years, he played Lor San Tekka in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Three-Eyed Raven in Game Of Thrones, and voiced a character on The Simpsons.
“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,” a statement from his widow Catherine von Sydow read, sent via the actor’s international reps who confirmed to Deadline that he passed away on Sunday, March 8.
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Born in Lund, Sweden, von Sydow studied at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre before getting his start in the film business through his work with mentor Ingmar Bergman. The pair’s credits included world cinema classic The Seventh Seal, in which he portrays a man who plays a chess game with Death, the Oscar-nominated Wild Strawberries, and the Oscar-winning The Virgin Spring.
After gaining international recognition through those Bergman pics, von Sydow made the move to Hollywood in the mid-1960s, appearing as Jesus in George Stevens’ The Greatest Story Ever Told, and then receiving Golden Globe nominations for Hawaii in 1966 and as the title character in The Exorcist in 1973.
He received two Oscar nominations, for his lead turn in Bille August’s 1987 drama Pelle The Conqueror and more recently his supporting role in Stephen Daldry’s 9/11 pic Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
Showcasing his enduring versatility, the 2000s saw von Sydow take roles in the box-office hit Rush Hour 3, Julian Schnabel’s Cannes award-winning pic The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, and further collabs with Martin Scorsese on Shutter Island, and with Steven Spielberg on Minority Report.
On the small screen, he appeared in Showtime’s drama series The Tudors, and scored an Emmy nomination for his role on Thrones.
His final film role was set to be in Nicholas Dimitropoulos’ upcoming drama Echoes Of The Past, which is reported to be in post.
Von Sydow was married twice, and has four sons.
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