'John Wick' and 'Mission: Impossible' actor Michael Nyqvist dead at 56

John Wick

Michael Nyqvist, the Swedish actor best known to international audiences for playing the villain in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and John Wick, has died at the age of 56. His passing came after a year-long battle with lung cancer.

“Michael’s joy and passion were infectious to those who knew and loved him. His charm and charisma were undeniable, and his love for the arts was felt by all who had the pleasure of working with him,” read a statement issued by Nyqvist’s family, which was published by The Hollywood Reporter.

Nyqvist developed his passion for acting on an exchange trip to Omaha, Nebraska that he took as a teenager. Shortly after returning home, he would enroll at the School of Drama in Malmo, Sweden before spending the early part of his career acting in Swedish television shows and movies.

His reputation reached new heights after the release of Together in 2000, which earned him a nomination for the Guldbagge Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He would be nominated for the prize three times over the course of his career, finally winning the award in 2016 for his turn in A Serious Game.

Almost a decade later, he landed the part of Mikael Blomkvist in the original Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels, which led to his subsequent success in the American film and television industry.

Nyqvist’s first major role in a Hollywood blockbuster came in 2011, when he portrayed Kurt Hendricks in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Over the next few years, he’d appear in found footage sci-fi adventure Europa Report as starship engineer Andrei Blok, and produce a memorable performance as Viggo Tarasov, the former employer of John Wick.

The actor continued to work despite his illness, contributing to several films that are still in production. Next year he will make posthumous appearances in Terrence Malick’s new film Radegund, as well as Kursk, an adaptation of the dramatic real-life events of August 2000 when a Russian Navy submarine sank in the Barents Sea.

Nyqvist is survived by his wife Catharina, their daughter Ellen, and their son Arthur.