Max von Sydow, the Swedish actor who was best known for his roles in Game of Thrones and the horror movie The Exorcist, died at his home in France on Sunday, March 8, at the age of 90.
His wife, Catherine Brelet, announced the news of his death in a statement released early on Monday.
“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’s death comes after an illustrious career in the film industry that spanned seven decades.
Tributes pour in on Twitter
Fans and colleagues, including Hollywood stars, have been paying tribute on social media.
Film industry bigwigs who have paid tribute include British director Edgar Wright. Seth Meyers, David Williams, Kevin Smith, and actress Mia Farrow, who starred alongside Sydow in the film in Jan Troell’s Hurricane (1979) and Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sister (1986), also paid tribute.
Max Von Sydow, such an iconic presence in cinema for seven decades, it seemed like he'd always be with us. He changed the face of international film with Bergman, played Christ, fought the devil, pressed the HOT HAIL button & was Oscar nominated for a silent performance. A god. pic.twitter.com/klhJ9RusdQ
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 9, 2020
Here was Max Von Sydow with his dear friend, master cinematographer, Sven Nykvist. Two great artists. Two true gentlemen. We were working on Bora Bora. I picture Max in heaven wearing his white linen suit, w Sven, Ingmar Bergman, Bibi Andersson, laughing & loving each other 💔 pic.twitter.com/ENdcB9bPKZ
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) March 9, 2020
Farewell to Max Von Sydow, delightfully sinister as Ming the Merciless in ‘Flash Gordon’. pic.twitter.com/epoWQKMypY
— David Walliams (@davidwalliams) March 9, 2020
This was the first Max Von Sydow film I ever saw. Being a kid, I just assumed he was a famous Canadian comedian. Turns out he was a lot more! https://t.co/JHextSeYEe
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) March 9, 2020
The legendary actor who gave us both Brewmeister Smith and Ming the Merciless has finally laid down his King in the eternal chess match. Farewell, Max von Sydow. You were in many much more respected movies than Strange Brew and Flash Gordon but I loved you for those flicks first. https://t.co/ltytehF5Rm
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) March 9, 2020
Max von Sydow bio
Sydow was born Carl Adolf von Sydow in Lund, Sweden in 1929. He became a French citizen in 2002.
He once revealed that he changed his name to Max because Adolf stopped being a “good name” after the Second World War.
“After the war, Adolf was not a good name,” Sydow said in a 2003 interview, according to the BBC. “And then when I got into theatre, people had trouble remembering the combination of Carl Adolf. So I thought I had to find something that people will remember, and that sounds more artistic.”
He studied at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre and made his film debut in 1949 in the Swedish movie Only A Mother.
He worked with director Ingmar Bergman in the 1950s at the Malmo Municipal Theatre.
He is known for playing Antonius Block in Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film, The Seventh Seal. Other Bergman movies in which he appeared include The Virgin Spring, Hour of the Wolf, and Wild Strawberries, all from the ’50s and ’60s.
He went on to work with several top Hollywood directors, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, and David Lynch.
He is also known for portraying Jesus in the 1965 film The Greatest Story Ever Told and Emperor Ming in Flash Gordon.
He played Father Lankester Merrin in the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist. He also played iconic villain roles, such as Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again (1983).
He earned an Oscar nomination for his role as Lassefar Karlsson in Pelle the Conqueror (1987).
He later starred as Director Lamar Burgess, alongside Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton, in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report.
In 1990, he was nominated for an Emmy for his role in the HBO thriller Red King, White Knight. He also received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (2011).
Von Sydow married Swedish actress Christina Olin in 1951 and they had two sons, Clas and Henrik, together. Sydow and Olin divorced in 1979 and he married French filmmaker, Catherine Brelet, in 1997. They had two sons, Yvan and Cedric.
He is survived by his wife Catherine Brelet and all four sons.