September 2017 Updates

The Michael Nyqvist Archives

September 30, 2017

Set in a Stockholm commune called TILLSAMMANS (Swedish for "Together") in 1975, the film is a satirical view of socialist values and a bittersweet comedy. It premiered in Sweden on August 25, 2000 and garnered wonderful reviews around the world for the next several months as it opened in other countries and was screened at several film festivals. Directed by Lukas Moodysson, the film explores the best and worst of the hippie era as free thinkers explore love, sex, childhood and the music of Abba. I saw it years ago before I was a Michael Nyqvist fan and loved it.  Wonderful performances from both the adults and children make this film a winner and you're sure to end up with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your stomach. I did.

The cinematography style is perfect for the characters as we see them through a soft, golden filter which creates a storybook quality. Moodysson allows us to observe his characters' follies without spreading a heavy layer of judgment. For example, Michael's character Rolf is an abusive husband and he drinks too much. It's a challenge to get an audience to appreciate his efforts to get his wife and children back in his life and yet, in the end, it's almost impossible to dislike him.

Ultimately, the film is about loneliness and our need to connect. As Rolf puts it, "I'd rather eat porridge together than a pork chop alone."

Michael told the press: "I'm very proud of that movie. It's my favorite role [as of 2010] because we could finally laugh at the things we were not supposed to laugh at in Sweden. I remember that at the premiere, a woman called out that the film was not politically correct. And we thought - We know that! Thank you!

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I love this photo shoot!

September 27, 2017

Since learning that Ulf Rollof's short film VI was going to be shown at Michael's tribute during the Stockholm International Film Festival, I've been wondering what "Vi" (We) is. It turns out it indeed is a very short video at only 1 minute, 49 seconds. Ulf Rollof has worked with a multitude of different materials and expressions - sculpture, works on paper, moving images, experimental painting, mechanical installations, and photography. In his April 2008 exhibition called "Under", he included this film. I don't think its meaning is apparent but obviously somebody thought enough of it to include it in his tribute. Here is the exhibition poster and some of the frames from the film. Yes, Michael in a mine crying with an octopus!

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Back in 1994, Michael was featured on a Swedish television comedy series called DÖDA DANSKAR RÄKNAS INTE (Dead Danes Don't Count). There is little information online except that the idea came from the BBC series, "Drop the Dead Monkey". The British show was very successful and ran for eight years but the Swedish version apparently didn't find an audience. You can find several videos of the show at YouTube. The links can be found here. We have a very young and handsome Michael.

September 25, 2017

Good news for director Peter Schønau Fog! His film, DU FORSVINDER (You Disappear) will be Denmark's contribution to the Oscars next year in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

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Director/actress Pernilla August recently told SVT, "What struck me when I looked back is how much he [Michael] has done. What  range - from the most serious to absurdist comedy. I almost do not know of any other actor who has this range."

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I finally found a snapshot of Michael with Tom Cruise, his Mission Impossible co-star.

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The Swedish Tax Agency reported this week on Michael's estate. It comes as no surprise that his widow Catharina will inherit most everything. His estate was valued at 17.2 million Swedish kroner, which is a little over 2 million in American dollars. For property, he owned half of a residential complex in Södermalm and a summer cabin in Norrtälje.  Very modest. Children Ellen and Arthur will each receive a scholarship of 70,000 Swedish kroner  and when Catharina Nyqvist dies, the children will inherit what's left of his estate.

September 23, 2017

It has just been announced that this year's edition of  the Stockholm International Film Festival will be dedicated to Michael Nyqvist. During the festival a special tribute program is being organized together with Michael Nyqvist's foundation. There is the opportunity to participate in a quiet minute, followed by a film about Michael Nyqvist. In addition, the Danish drama "You Disappear" by Peter Schønau Fog and the short film "We" by Ulf Rollof in which Nyqvist participates, will be shown.

"It's a hit when an actor like Michael Nyqvist is not with us anymore. We are forever grateful for the film heritage he leaves behind, "said festival director Git Scheynius.

"We want to thank you for this fine cooperation. Michael was a warm and open man who had an unbelievable belief in the power of acting," said Thomas Perlmann, spokesman for Michael Nyqvist's foundation.

The tribute program will be featured at Cinema Saga Salon 1, November 12 at 3 pm.

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Another film page completed! Michael's first Guldbagge for "Best Actor" was earned for his role as  lovable farmer Benny Söderström in Kjell Sundvall's romantic comedy, GRABBEN I GRAVEN BREDVIK (The Guy in the Grave Next Door) filmed in the fall of 2001 and released in Sweden on August 2, 2002. For the role of Desirée, Benny's love interest, Sundvall gave screen tests to about 30 actresses before he found the perfect co-star in Elisabet Carlsson. Her grandfather was a farmer and she was the first in the family to attend college so her background helped her understand Benny's difficulties in fitting into Desirée's world and vice versa. She and Michael first met ten years before in Örebro when she did her theatre internship. Doing her first feature film, Elisabet told the press, "It was an incredible security to have Micke as my co-star. He is experienced, talented and generous."

Michael said, "I fell in love with the script and my character. Benny is warm and lonely and has a longing for love." Playing a farmer was a new experience because he had never even been inside a barn and was terrified of cows. "When I did the farmer Benny, I always imagined that my hands were big like tennis racquets. It made me feel a little picky and that was what was required to become Benny."

To prepare for his role, Michael packed on several pounds which he said was "easy". He said, "It went on for a month, a wonderful time. Only fat sauces, berries, chips and sweets. Then the vanity hit and I tried to lose weight. It took a whole year to return to my normal weight again."

He told the press he believes the love story meets the audience's heart. "Yes, I think the interaction between Elisabet and me worked and part of that was because we knew each other for a long time."

In April 2003 Aftonbladet readers were asked to vote for their favorite Swedish film from 2002 and this romantic comedy won. Sundvall said, "I'm surprised. I had no ambitions that the film would do so well... I think you recognize yourself in the real people and in their loneliness and love thirst. And the culture between the city and the milk federation is both entertaining and something that many can relate to."

Michael was also voted as "Best Swedish Male Role" in the film. He said he was very excited about the honor since it was the audience that voted for him.

When there was talk of a sequel, he said, "Never say never. If Katarina Mazetti comes up with a good script, maybe. I do not want to join 'Police School 7' as well."

September 21, 2017

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One of Michael's projects planned for this year was his directorial debut in a comedy he wrote called EN VETERINÄR FÖR MYCKET (Just Another Vet).  Last year he was in Cannes forging ahead with this long-awaited film project getting production in order. You can read more details on my April 18, 2017 posting. This week I just discovered this poster. I wonder why he's holding a tire iron.

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 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