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Max von Sydow, star of Seventh Seal, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones, dies at 90

Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow Getty

Max von Sydow, who starred in The Exorcist and Game of Thrones, and who even made a late-in-life appearance in a Star Wars film, has passed away at the age of 90.

The Swedish actor died on Sunday, according to representatives at Diamond Management. “It is with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max,” the talent-management agency said in a statement.

Von Sydow, born April 10, 192p, in Lund, Sweden, made a name for himself starring in director Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal in 1957. The tall Swede made his 1965 Hollywood debut in grand fashion, playing Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

In 2015, he appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka, a village elder. Well into his 80s, he was then cast as the infamous Three-Eyed Raven in season 6 of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

Von Sydow had “the sort of late career that eminent movie actors tend to have,” The Atlantic wrote in 2015, popping up for a scene or two in commercial stuff that needs a touch of gravity, and receiving, as famous old actors do, the honor of ‘last billing.’”

He was twice nominated for Oscars: In 1988, for his role in Pelle the Conqueror, and again in 2012 as Best Supporting Actor for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Though the latter was critically panned, von Sydow’s performance was hailed as brilliant given he was playing a mute character throughout the film.

His career was filled with roles as villains given his imposing presence on screen, alternated with roles of depth in more acclaimed Bergman films and even comedic turns in films like 1983’s Strange Brew with Rick Moranis.

Praise for von Sydow poured in from all over Hollywood. Mia Farrow, who appeared in two films with him, tweeted a picture of the actor and said: “I picture Max in heaven wearing his white linen suit … with Ingmar Bergman, Bibi Andersson, laughing & loving each other.”

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 ????

— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) March 9, 2020

Director Kevin Smith wrote that von Sydow “finally laid down his King in the eternal chess match,” a reference to the actor’s role in The Seventh Seal in which he played a game of chess with Death itself.

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.

— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) March 9, 2020

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Mythili Sampathkumar
Mythili is a freelance journalist based in New York. When not reporting about politics, foreign policy, entertainment, and…
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