September 19, 2017

On March 26, 2009, Michael was in Finland promoting the first of the Millennium films. It had premiered in Sweden and Denmark on February 27 and now a month later, it would premiere on March 27 in Finland.

Michael was a guest on YLE with host Jussi-Pekka Rantasen. You can access a 13-minute segment of the show by clicking on the photo below. 

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Five years later in March 2014, Michael was again a guest on YLE, this time promoting his second book. He was interviewed by Bettina Sågbom on her talk show.

You can view a 6-minute clip of the interview by clicking on the photo below.

 
September 17, 2017

With 31 European countries represented, the list of 51 feature films selected for European Film Awards 2017 has been announced. In the coming weeks, the more than 3,000 members of the European Film Academy will vote for the nominations in several categories. The presentation of the winners will take place on  December 9 in Berlin. Among the 51 films is a Nyqvist film - DU FORSVINDER (You Disappear).

It was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th. In attendance was director Peter Schønau Fog with actors Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Trine Dyrholm. Good chance Michael would have been there. I write this with a heavy heart.

The Toronto reviews have been less than stellar. The director was faulted for his nonlinear plotting  doing a major disservice to the film and giving it too much of a Bergmanesque overtone. However, the cast was uniformly praised. The film is scheduled to be screened at Filmfest Hamburg, which runs from October 5 through October 14.

Bradley Warren, The Playlist: "All three leads are fixtures in the Scandinavian star system and have individually proven themselves capable of carrying films in the past, but You Disappear doesn’t give the trio a whole lot to do."

Norman Wilner, Now Toronto: "All of this is fascinating stuff – and I assume it reads that way in Christian Jungersen’s novel – but Fog is so busy considering the story’s philosophical underpinnings that he forgets to render that story in a compelling or urgent manner. As a result, some fine work from Dyrholm and Lie Kaas – and from the late Michael Nyqvist, who plays the couple’s lawyer in one of his final performances – is left to wither on the vine."

Chris Machell, CineVue: "Though the film's final act drags itself out in service of an unnecessary and wholly predictable twist, Fog elicits consistently affecting performances from his leads."

Kalpit Tandon, High on Films: "The affair between Mia and the lawyer Bernard (a fabulous Nyqvist) is understandable and oddly fitting to the overall canvas of the movie. Peter Fog’s fleeting take upon the nature of our conscience and the control we possess over our will is a fascinating albeit an unfulfilled thriller."

Allan Hunter, Screen Daily: "Credibility throughout is sustained by a classy cast, including the late Michael Nyqvist in a role with more dimension than the raging baddies that raised his international profile."

I absolutely agree with that last statement. Though it was great to have Michael in English-speaking roles, often times the characters he played did not always produce powerful performances as in his European films. Personally, I have come to prefer foreign films over Hollywood fare though an occasional indie will get my attention.

 
September 16, 2017

You may have seen this photo of a half-naked Michael Nyqvist with his double-jointed thumb and wondered about it. I certainly did. It was taken by photographer and author Sanna Sjöswärd and in 2011 it was part of a photo exhibition and book that she put together called "Eldsjälar".

Sanna Sjöswärd, born in 1973 in Tehran, has lived in Sweden since she was four years old and worked as a professional photographer since 2002. Her memoir, "My mother is a Persian Princess" was published around the same time as Michael's first book so their friendship began at a book fair. They were invited to speak on stage about their books. Both had been adopted and shared their childhood fears and the need to seek their roots.

When it came time for Sanna to create her long-time project called "Eldsjälar". she made a list of over 100 personalities and then  narrowed it down to 30 distinct people who exhibited some kind of inner strength that enabled them to overcome obstacles, whatever kind. Participants came from widely different places and their stories were centered on various subjects from breeding wolves to refugee work to fundamental human rights. Some people have the ability to inspire, to share their lives and their passion. Michael was one of them. Each person was interviewed and their black and white portraits made their stories extra powerful.

Sanna interviewed Michael but time was limited for the photo shoot because he was about to leave the country to film "Mission Impossible" with Tom Cruise. She remembers it being a hot summer day in June when they did the photographs. They were taken in her "concrete" backyard in Vasastan while her female neighbors stood with open balcony doors, smoking frantically and smiling wide on Michael and his fit torso. Naturally he kindly waved to everyone. I love that part.

When Michael passed away, Sanna expressed her sadness but was very grateful for the privilege of knowing him. She described him as being "warm in the soul".

The portraits have been up for sale and one online blogger showed this large poster in her bedroom. I can think of a lot more handsome Nyqvist photos for my walls.

This is another black & white portrait Sanna did of Michael at the same time. Perhaps there are more.

 
September 14, 2017

Have you seen FRANK & LOLA? Director/writer Matthew Ross describes his film as a psychosexual noir love story. Being a fan of Last Tango in Paris and not being a fan of Michael Shannon, I didn't pick up on the sexual energy between the two leads but the sophisticated Alan, played by Michael, certainly seethed with dark sensuality. Film noir will definitely come to mind because there's a smoky, hazy quality to the locations that were chosen - Paris and Vegas.

Ross explained that it took him 8 years to get this film into production.  One of the main inspirations was that someone he knew had gone through a similar experience to Lola. She had been victimized while dating someone in Paris and she didn’t leave. Matthew saw the damage that it did to her and thought it was very powerful.

On casting Michael, Ross said, "In his native Sweden, and throughout Europe, 'Micke' is revered as a master as both leading man and ingenious character actor. It's well deserved. Micke is one of the most charismatic, unpredictable and intuitive actors I've ever seen. I had met him prior to shooting Frank & Lola [through my manager] while he was on a break in production on John Wick in New York. He was recovering from a pretty terrifying stunt accident and he and I just hit it off and spoke the same language. He was the first actor we went to for Alan, Lola's abuser and Frank's nemesis. Alan is the anti-Frank, and Micke performed that role to perfection. He has this natural erudition, elegance and mischievous air to him that worked as a fantastic 'to the manor born' counterpoint to Frank."

I love the above scene when Frank covertly follows Alan to a Parisian bar. It's so atmospheric and richly French. If you haven't made a trip to Paris yet, mark it on your calendar. It's worth every penny.

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A handsome new photo!

 
September 12, 2017

The dramatic thriller DISCONNECT holds a mirror up to our everyday lives where modern technology is so readily available and shows how it can both unite and divide us. Michael has a very minor role in this debut feature film from documentarian Henry Alex Rubin. He plays Stephen Schumacher, who runs a dry-cleaning business. For Nyqvist fans, it's disappointing that his screen time is very limited. In addition, his role is simply boring and I'm not sure why his agent passed this script to him. Yes, it's a well-made film and great entertainment but Michael deserved better.

This cautionary tale was filmed in the NYC area in September 2011 and premiered a year later at both the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. Michael did not attend any of the film's premieres. It made its US debut at the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January 2013, played in theaters in the spring and was released on DVD in September. It garnered respect from film critics and is often compared to the Oscar winner Crash (2004).

In an interview, Michael discussed the film: "I liked the way it turned out. That was why I said yes to it... The intense feeling in the script...  If I compared myself to my kids, they know everything and they’re like small little hackers. I also feel that my identity can be stolen. I’m very paranoid about it compared to other people in the younger generation. Also, if you’re going through what my character experienced, lonely with this grief and sorrow, I'd do whatever to talk to someone about this."

When asked if the ensemble cast ever got together, Michael replied, "We didn’t do that. I met Henry in London and then I did a film so I couldn’t come. I arrived to do my stuff with Alexander [Skarsgård] and Paula [Patton]. Paula and Alexander are two people I worked with before. I did Mission: Impossible with Paula and Alexander’s father is an old, old friend of mine and we did a couple of films. Also, the stories were each in their own universe so we didn’t really connect to the other actors."

Here's a photo of our two Swedes on location. I appreciated the way both of them were connected in the same storyline. Wondering... did they speak Swedish when they took their break together?

 
September 9, 2017

Here are some production photos from the TV series "Zero Hour," which show Michael's great sense of humor while filming.

And a great photo shoot:

 
September 8, 2017

With over 20 million copies of his books sold in Germany, Swedish author Henning Mankell is one of the top writers of Crimean literature. Several of his novels have been filmed. His 2005 novel, KENNEDYS HIRN (Kennedy's Brain) was adapted  in 2010 as a two-part  version for German television at 180 minutes. At the center of the story is the archaeologist Louise Cantor played by German actress Iris Berben. Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård plays her love interest. Michael has the role of Lars Hakansson, a member of the Swedish embassy in Mozambique. Unfortunately, he only appears in the second part so his screen time is limited. Evidently it was filmed in English but then dubbed in German with English subtitles. Strange...

 
September 4, 2017

Since Christian Camargo co-starred in Europa Report, we can assume that he talked Michael into joining his ensemble cast for his arthouse film, DAYS AND NIGHTS. This was Camargo's directorial debut, which he wrote, inspired by Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. He also starred in the film alongside a cast of familiar names - William Hurt, Jean Reno, Katie Holmes, Allison Janney... The film did not fare well and received mostly negative reviews.

I attempted to watch it but halfway through, I had to quit. I became overwrought with the exasperating levels of self-absorption by these eccentric characters. Perhaps if I had been more familiar with Chekhov's play, it wouldn't have felt so pretentious. I can understand why Michael said "yes" to the script since he's attracted to experimental theater and film and maybe he was personally satisfied with having worked with these excellent actors.

 
September 1, 2017

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, a trio of novels that teams up a disgraced journalist with a punk hacker, was an international phenomenon. The books sold millions across the globe and were brought to the screen in Sweden, both in feature films and extended versions for television. The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: The Extended Edition the Swedish TV mini-series presentation, offers the most complete screen version of the story. It is available on DVD and at Netflix.com in the states.

Having previously created the film page for MÄN SOM HATAR KVINNOR (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), I have now completed pages for FLICKAN SOM LEKTE MED ELDEN (The Girl Who Played with Fire), LUFTSLOTTET SOM SPRÄNGDES (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) and Millennium (The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy).

The third and final entry in Stieg Larsson's enormously successful series is perhaps the least thrilling, but it's easily the most satisfying. For those who have spent two films suffering along with the almost cosmically tortured Lisbeth Salander, this film will be particularly cathartic.

Salander and Blomkvist share more scenes than they did in Part II, but their relationship consists of more than the usual longing glances, trite witticisms and romantic entanglements. Through pin-sharp dialogue and superb, restrained performances, we know exactly how Blomkvist and Salander feel about each other - and it's a complex relationship to say the least. That's testament to Larsson's intelligent writing. Fire and Hornet's Nest were meant for TV and are visibly a little tattier around the edges. However, there's no small amount of charm to be found in all three movies: the Millennium trilogy remains a refreshing cinematic odyssey.

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The photography of Swede Thron Ullberg is almost more art than photography. For years, he has been considered the country’s best portraitist, having captured the face (almost always in black and white) of all the most important figures in the Swedish culture and entertainment world. Ullberg captures the mystery of death in many of his photographs and on the day after Michael died, he posted this photo on his Facebook page. He guesses that the portrait was taken around 2010.

 "Such a loss. One of the best humans/actors, both on and off stage"  ...Thron Ullberg

August 28, 2017

It is sometimes frustrating to follow an international actor's career when there's a language barrier. So many of his interviews at youtube.com are naturally in Swedish, but I have one today that comes with English subtitles. It's a 14-minute clip from the Skavlan talk show that was recorded last year. Here's the link. Enjoy!

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This is a new poster for DU-FORSVINDER. What do you think? Is Michael's face included? I can't tell because the person has brown eyes but it looks like his nose. I don't quite understand why all the faces because only one person disappears in the film.

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Michael's widow Catharina has created a web page for the Michael Nyqvist Foundation at this link. It features this photo and the following announcement:

Michael Nyqvist was a devoted actor and author. His exuberance was irresistible, and during the last year of his life he often said that he had so much unfinished business. Both in life and in his artistry he had so much more to give. The Foundation is a way to honor Michael’s vision and desire to have a continuing positive influence in the world.

Michael often spoke of how acting can be a powerful force that ties people together by connecting them, and how acting can provide us with tools for the prevention of conflicts. He understood that communication is at the core of acting. Michael passionately believed that acting can be a force for uniting people. The Foundation will build on this vision.

More information about the Foundation’s activities will be presented shortly.

August 22, 2017

Vasateatern or "Vasan" is a private theatre in Stockholm.  It was built in 1886 and has for many years been Stockholm's main private theatre for comedies and farces so it was the perfect place for staging Edward Albee's play GETEN ELLER VEM ÄR SYLVIA? (The Goat or Who is Sylvia?)

In April 2005 it was announced that the play would premiere in the fall starring Michael and Suzanne Reuter. Michael told the press, "It's about a guy who falls in love with a goat. It's a huge story with many sick scenes." Asked whether there would be a living goat on the stage, he answered, "I'm not saying".

Geten is a full-length play which opened on Broadway in 2002. It won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Play, the 2002 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play was written to be provocative, daring and controversial. In the play, Martin, a hugely successful architect who has just turned fifty, leads an ostensibly ideal life with his loving wife and gay teenage son. But when he confides to his best friend that he is also in love with a goat (named Sylvia), he sets in motion events that will destroy his family and leave his life in tatters.

The play opened in Stockholm on September 22 and ran until Christmas. In March and April 2006, it went on a five-city tour, sponsored by Elite Hotels.

In rehearsals Michael said Suzanne was a just a dream to work with. She happened to be an Albee veteran having had great success in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? playing against Krister Henriksson. It was Krister who advised Michael about the role in Geten.

Michael described the play as "very good and fun play, sexy and sexy" adding, "It's very surprising and extremely challenging...  Suzanne and I have worked together in Reuter & Skoog earlier, but never on stage."

For Michael, it became a process to try to get into the role of his character.  He said, "If you want to play it, you must also be able to defend it in some way. It's a man who has everything, financial success, beautiful wife, clever young son... There is something that starts to make his life feel empty... I hope it will make people think about their own life, their own love concept, their marriage and their relationship with their children - but above all, their relationship to themselves."

 
August 19, 2017

Award-winning Ecuadorian filmmaker Sebastián Cordero is a master of contained, psychological thrillers and a lifelong science fiction fan. His first English-language film, EUROPA REPORT was filmed in the fall of 2011 and is a unique documentary-style sci-fi thriller that follows an ill-fated mission to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system.

Casting a group of international actors was important and the first person who came on board was Michael who plays a Russian astronaut. He read the script and saw one of Cordero's films and gladly accepted the role. The film turned out to be hugely successful considering its low budget and a very respected film in the sci-fi genre.

The six actors playing the astronauts were a South African, a Romanian, a Swede, a Pole, and two Americans (one of them a Chinese-American, Daniel Wu). Everyone speaks English, although Katya (Wydra) and Andrei (Nyqvist) sometimes chat privately in Russian.

In the great tradition of 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Abyss, and Aliens, Europa Report once again allows us to experience the dream of exploring vast worlds outside of our element, worlds where no person has ever gone before. Co-star Sharlto Copley told the press he would love to one day leave Earth's orbit for real saying he was "personally very interested in the idea of space exploration" while Michael chuckled, "I love earth. Space sucks."

In interviews with Michael, he conceded that a space travel film was a long way from Scandinavian cinema, such as the film noir of Ingmar Bergman. Always curious, Michael looked for new and unique projects, but ultimately his experience of working against green screens and being wired and hoisted by cranes was not his cup of tea.

I wondered why I had never seen any premiere photos and that's because the film had an unusual New York premiere in the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History on August 1, 2013. Only the director, screenwriter Philip Gelatt and producer Ben Browning attended.

The Prop Store is selling a few items from the film that were worn by Michael, such as his watch and space clothes. Very pricey!

 
 
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