Celebrated Swedish actor Max von Sydow, who memorably played a priest in the iconic horror film The Exorcist and received two Oscar nominations over the course of his illustrious career, has died. He was 90.
Von Sydow died at his home in Provence, France on Sunday. His wife Catherine von Sydow, a documentary filmmaker and producer, confirmed his death to French press on Monday.
“It’s with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max Von Sydow on March 8, 2020,” she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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The couple married in 1997 after she worked as his assistant on some of his films. They share two sons, and Von Sydow shares two more sons with ex-wife, actress Christina Olin. He and Olin were married from 1951 to 1979
The actor collected two Oscar nominations throughout his long career. He earned his first in 1989 for Pelle the Conqueror in the Best Actor category. Over two decades later, Von Sydow was rewarded for his silent and memorable performance in 2011’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a heartbreaking drama about 9/11.
Von Sydow most recently starred as the Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones, earning his second-ever Emmy nomination in 2016.
But the actor is best known for classics like The Exorcist, in which he played priest Father Merrin. He took on the role in the 1973, though he was only 43 and the part required him to look 80.
“Somebody gave me the [William Peter Blatty] book to read and said, ‘They want you to play a priest,’ ” he said in a 2013 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I read the book and I thought, of course, it was for the young priest. So I said, ‘That’s a good part.’ And they said, ‘No, no no. They want you for the exorcist!’ I still don’t really know why.”
He went on to play a younger version of the priest four years later in Exorcist II: The Heretic.
Von Sydow is also famous for his long partnership with director Ingmar Bergman, a fellow countryman. The two collaborated on 11 films before Bergman died in 2007.
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