Max von Sydow

Max von Sydow Photo


Birth Name: Carl Adolf von Sydow

Date of Birth: April 10, 1929

Known for his deep voice, Max von Sydow was born in Lund, in southern Sweden, where he was raised in a middle-class family. A shy child, he chose acting as a way to better communicate with people. By the time he was 15, he and a friend attended the theatre to watch a production of A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Inspired by the performance, the two formed an amateur theatre group and performed a number of plays.

After high school, von Sydow spent a year in mandatory military service, and then attended Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre from 1948 to 1951. While still a student, he made his feature film debut as Nils in Only a Mother (1949). Following that experience, von Sydow returned to theater work and performed on stage for the next few years, occasionally making appearances in Swedish films.

In 1955, von Sydow was given the lead role in the feature, The Seventh Seal(1957). Playing the part of a young knight who returns from the Crusades only to find his homeland dying from the plague, the film was a hit and over the years became a classic.

Over the next two decades, von Sydow continued to impress audiences in Europe with strong, solid performances and although he had been in a few North American films, including playing Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), it wasn't until the 1973 horror film, The Exorcist, that American audiences sat up and took notice. Playing Father Lankester Merrin, von Sydow once again presented a solid performance and found himself in a popular film turned classic.

The versatile actor continued to work steadily in film for both European and American markets until the end of the 20th century and the beginning of this one. Some of his most memorable performances include playing Emperor Ming in Flash Gordon (1980), King Osric in Conan the Barbarian (1982), James Bond's nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Never Say Never Again (1983), Frederick in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and his Oscar-nominated turn as Lassefar in Pelle erobreren (1987). Von Sydow received his second Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011).

In his more than 50 years in film, von Sydow performed in over 130 film and television productions. Married twice, he had two sons from his first marriage which ended in 1996, and two sons from his second marriage. He lived in many countries around the world including the U.S., Italy, and France.

Von Sydow was 90 when he died at his home in Provence, France on March 8, 2020.


Echoes of the Past (2021)
The Command (2018)
The First, the Last (2016)
Star Wars – The Force Awakens (2015)
The Letters (2014)
Branded (2012
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
Robin Hood (2010)
Shutter Island (2010)
Oscar et la dame rose (2009)
Solomon Kane (2009)
Un homme et son chien (2008)
Emotional Arithmetic (2007)
Rush Hour 3 (2007)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
L'inchiesta (2006)
Minority Report (2002)
Intacto (2001)
Vercingétorix / Druids (2001)
Non ho sonno / Sleepless (2001)
Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)
What Dreams May Come (1998)
En Frusen dröm / A Frozen Dream (1997) (voice)
Truck Stop (1996)
Jerusalem (1996)
Hamsun (1996)
A che punto è la notte (1995)
Dypets ensomhet / Depth Solitude (1995) (voice)
Lumière and Company (1995)
Atlanten (1995) (voice)
Judge Dredd (1995)
Time Is Money (1994)
Needful Things (1993)
Morfars resa (1993)
Dotkniecie reki / The Touch (1992)
Den Goda viljan / The Best Intentions (1992)
Mio caro dottor Gräsler / The Bachelor (1991)
Oxen (1991)
Bis ans Ende der Welt / Until the End of the World (1991)
Europa (1991) (voice)
A Kiss Before Dying (1991)
Una Vita scellerata /A Violent Life (1990)
Awakenings (1990)
Father (1989)
Pelle erobreren (1987)
Duet for One (1986)
The Second Victory (1986)
Oviri (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Il Pentito (1985)
Code Name: Emerald (1985)
George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984)
A Soldier's Tale (1984)
Dune (1984)
Terror in the Aisles (1984) (archive footage)
Dreamscape (1984)
Never Say Never Again (1983)
Strange Brew (1983)
Le Cercle des passions (1983)
Jugando con la muerte / Target Eagle (1982)
Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd / The Flight of the Eagle (1982)
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Victory (1981)
She Dances Alone (1981)
Bugie bianche / Footloose (1980)
La Mort en direct / Deathwatch (1980)
Flash Gordon (1980)
Hurricane (1979)
Brass Target (1978)
Gran bollito / Black Journal (1977)
A Look at Liv (1977)
March or Die (1977)
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Il Deserto dei Tartari / The Desert of the Tartars (1976)
Voyage of the Damned (1976)
Cadaveri eccellenti (1976)
Cuore di cane (1975)
Foxtrot (1975)
The Ultimate Warrior (1975)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Ägget är löst! / The Softening of the Egg (1975)
Steppenwolf (1974)
Trompe-l'oeil (1974)
The Exorcist (1973)
Embassy (1972)
Nybyggarna / The New Land (1972)
Äppelkriget / The Apple War (1971)
Beröringen / The Touch (1971)
Utvandrarna / The Emigrants (1971)
The Night Visitor (1970)
The Kremlin Letter (1970)
En Passion / The Passion of Anna (1969)
Made in Sweden (1969)
Skammen / Shame (1968)
Svarta palmkronor / Black Palm Trees (1968)
Vargtimmen / Hour of the Wolf (1968)
The Quiller Memorandum (1966)
Här har du ditt liv / Here's Your Life (1966)
Hawaii (1966)
The Reward (1965)
4 x 4 (1965)
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
Nattvardsgästerna / Winter Light (1963)
Älskarinnan / The Swedish Mistress (1962)
Nils Holgerssons underbara resa / Wonderful Adventures of Nils (1962)
Såsom i en spegel / Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
Bröllopsdagen / The Wedding Day (1960)
Jungfrukällan / The Virgin Spring (1960)
Ansiktet / The Magician (1958)
Spion 503 (1958)
Nära livet / Brink of Life (1958)
Prästen i Uddarbo (1957)
Smultronstället / Wild Strawberries (1957)
Det Sjunde inseglet / The Seventh Seal (1957)
Rätten att älska (1956)
Ingen mans kvinna (1953)
Fröken Julie / Miss Julie (1951)
Bara en mor / Only a Mother (1949)