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Max von Sydow

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Biography from Baseline's Encyclopedia of Film

Occupation: Actor  Also: director

Birth Name: Carl Adolf von Sydow

Born: April 10, 1929, Lund, Sweden

Education: Royal Dramatic Theater School, Stockholm

Max von Sydow, internationally recognized Swedish screen star, studied acting at the Royal Dramatic Theater School, where he met and married Kerstin Olin in 1951. He made his film debut in Alf Sj÷berg's BARA EN MOR (1949), but it was his devotion to the theatre in Halsingborg from 1953 to 1955 and then at Malm÷ from 1955 to 1960 that earned him a reputation as a fine classical stage actor. Director Ingmar Bergman saw in von Sydow the embodiment of the tormented, angst-ridden souls of many of his great psycho-social dramas. The two began a long-running relationship with THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957), and von Sydow soon became the cornerstone of Bergman's repertory group of performers. Their astonishing series of early collaborations included WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957), BRINK OF LIFE (1958), THE MAGICIAN (1958), THE VIRGIN SPRING (1959), THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY (1962) and WINTER LIGHT (1962). In 1960, von Sydow became a member of the Royal Dramatic Theater of Stockholm, and he has continued his ties to the stage to this day. In the mid-1960s, von Sydow was drawn to Hollywood, debuting as Christ in George Stevens's mammoth THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965). American producers seized upon his strange physicality to cast him in a variety of roles, often unsympathetic; he played a Nazi in THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (1966), a minister in HAWAII (1966) and a priest in THE EXORCIST (1973). In the late 60s, von Sydow returned to the Bergman fold for one more memorable series of films, including HOUR OF THE WOLF (1968), SHAME (1968), THE PASSION OF ANNA (1969) and THE TOUCH (1971). The 70s saw von Sydow making frequent screen appearances in films as varied as STEPPENWOLF (1974), THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975) and THE HURRICANE (1979). More recently, von Sydow scored triumphs as the psychotherapist in the stage and screen productions of DUET FOR ONE (1986) and his Oscar-nominated role in PELLE THE CONQUEROR (1988)-thoughtful, intense performances which recalled the best of his years with Bergman.

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