[translated & edited]
Date: October 19, 2014
Michael Nyqvist experienced setbacks
in life. Time and again, he doubted himself and his
abilities with his confidence destroyed.
MN: There is a taboo about talking
about your failures.
There was a crucial moment when his
life was no longer the same. When Michael was 11 years
old, he ran after a car and saw his father disappear.
MN: I knew right away that he would
not turn back and return to me. It was as if I had
died and became hardened.
It was the second time that Michael Nyqvist was
abandoned. The man in the car was not his biological
father. More than ten years earlier he had been in an
orphanage in Stockholm. A young mother became pregnant
after an affair with an Italian man. A couple
adopted the boy and named him Michael.
MN: It was said at that time that if you adopt someone,
you have a big responsibility. You never abandon the
child, so I took it as an incredible betrayal... We had
time together, just a few days before he died.
That abandonment has left deep scars. Michael Nyqvist
finds it difficult to have confidence and trust. It's
the fear of losing what he values.
The adoption was revealed during a family vacation on a
terrace in Venice when Michael was six. His parents said
it should remain a family secret.
Michael was a lonely boy with periodically fragile
self-esteem and confidence. He had difficulty expressing
MN: I went into my room and acted out scenes for myself,
where I played different roles in order to express and
understand my feelings.
Slowly he was becoming an actor, but it wasn't until
much later, at the drama school in Malmö, when he first
felt the pieces fall into place.
MN: It was something that rang in myself, almost like a
musical. I realized that I am in the right place.
Michael threw himself into the theater world in the
belief that it was a haven, a place where you would not
have to be judged, subject to competition and contests -
all that he thought so ill of in the elementary school
and longed to get away from.
He was wrong.
Michael Nyqvist has often been told that he was not good
enough or was suited for the roles he sought. Once he
got his dream roles, he sought with haunted eyes
directors and spectators' reactions.
He nevertheless remained in the theater, despite all the
tough fights for self-confidence.
MN: I've never seen it as a choice. The theater is my
language, my way of expressing myself. And one should
doubt yourself! It is in doubt that we grow. Today my
self-esteem is not too bad.
While many of us are afraid to fail, and even more
afraid to show our defeats, Michael has written two
books about his life.
Today, Michel Nyqvist has accepted his weaknesses and
difficult childhood experiences and used them in his
role interpretations. He describes it as taking a role
and pouring it through his personal filters.
MN: We who work in theater and film portray things that
we as human beings do not always dare to say. You
question your own life. This is something that many do
not do, especially men. Women have contact with their
Michael describes, almost a little embarrassed, about
the time his son Arthur had his 18th birthday and how he
cried so much when he wanted to describe how great his
love and admiration was for his children... I think I
have become more aware of love, to verbalize it and
stand by it. I have been careful to talk about all the
things that are not obvious and it has meant that we
have become very close. But unfortunately, I'm probably
more aware of my shortcomings if I did something stupid
in my father's role.
It was only in adulthood that Michael Nyqvist had
contact with his biological parents. He managed to find
his mother and met her in a cafe once. It took several
years for him to find his biological father, a
pharmacist in Florence named Marcello, who had two
children, Michael's half-siblings. The relationship with
them has made Michael Nyqvist stand firmer than
ever on the ground.
MN: The feeling of not knowing where you come from makes
you damn frustrated. It's deafening. It is like walking
with sunglasses indoors. Therefore, I made the decision
to find out as much as I could. I went into analysis and
tried to find my parents. But I already knew before that
I was not going to get any answers. However, I know that
I take myself and my life seriously. It was the most
You have done a great job with yourself. Why do you
think so many are afraid?
MN: It's like admitting a weakness. You are afraid to be
a brooder and you don't know what it will set in motion.
We are afraid of emotions, but I know that feelings are
Michael Nyqvist smiles and starts talking about his
hero: the Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni who was a
master at portraying what he calls the layers of life.
MN: Mastroianni loved to drink wine, smoke, eat and talk
about life. It sounds so unprofitable, but so true. That
we live and not just survive.