Skip to main content

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

John Wick
Image used with permission by copyright holder
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.

Editors' Recommendations

Brad Jones
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
Tom Cruise risks it all in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One trailer
Tom Cruise looks and stares in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

At this point, what can't Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick) do? In Paramount's new trailer for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Cruise's Ethan Hunt drives a motorcycle off a cliff, fights on top of a moving train, and hangs off the edge of train car hundreds of feet in the air.

In Dead Reckoning Part One, Hunt and his team are tasked with tracking down a deadly new weapon that threatens all of humanity. However, a new, powerful enemy puts those he loves at risk, forcing Ethan to decide if completing the mission is worth more than his own life.

Read more
All the John Wick movies, ranked from worst to best
A man aims a gun in John Wick 2.

What's the best John Wick movie? The answer is harder than it may seem since all four (so far) movies in the franchise are so darn good. From the first movie's origins as an under-the-radar film that quietly launched in the fall of 2014 to the latest installment John Wick: Chapter 4's big box office success, the John Wick movies have only increased in popularity and critical acclaim in the nine years it has existed.

Every John Wick movie has been praised for its innovative action and stylish direction, but which one ranks at the top? Is it the original John Wick, which established the series in the first place? Or is it Parabellum, which dramatically expanded the scope and depth of the franchise? The following is a list of all the John Wick movies, ranked in ascending order by their Rotten Tomatoes score.
4. John Wick (86%)

Read more
Everything you need to know about the John Wick spinoff, Ballerina
John Wick walks and stands behind the Director in John Wick 3.

In 2014, the world was introduced to John Wick (The Matrix's Keanu Reeves), the legendary assassin who left the profession to marry his wife, Helen (Blue Bloods' Bridget Moynahan). After Helen tragically dies, a grieving John is pulled back into the criminal underworld after a group of Russian gangsters steal his car and kill his puppy, a gift from his wife. Clad in his signature black suit, a motivated John punches, shoots, and kills whatever or whoever comes his way on his quest for vengeance.

Four movies later, the John Wick series is widely regarded as one of the best action franchises ever made. What sets John Wick apart from other franchises is its approach to action filmmaking. Instead of quick cuts and closeups, John Wick relies on highly choreographed sequences and single takes, which was first instilled by John Wick's co-directors David Leitch (Deadpool 2) and Chad Stahelski (John Wick: Chapter 4). The successful franchise will now expand the universe in its first feature spinoff, Ballerina, centered around a female assassin out for revenge against those who murdered her family.

Read more