Max Von Sydow will hopefully be best remembered for the great work he did with Ingmar Bergman like the The Seventh Seal and Best Foreign Language Oscar winner The Virgin Spring. However, what may be most remarkable about Von Sydow's more than 70 years in film and television might be the variety of the roles that he took. He wasn't just Antonius Block. He was also Father Merrin, Emperor Ming, Vigo the Carpathian, and the Three-Eyed Raven. The world has lost an actor the definition of the word versatile, as Max Von Sydow died yesterday at the age of 90.
Von Sydow's first film credit came in 1949. He reached fame, however, through his association with Swedish director Igmar Bergman. He played the lead role in The Seventh Seal, where he played chess with death. It's not just one of the well more well regarded movies in film history, it's also one of the most parodied, which is how you know you've made it.
Moving to Hollywood in the 1960s, the actor would play Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told, and the lead priest in The Exorcist. He played the villain in both the 1980s Flash Gordon movie and the Ghosbusters sequel. He was a James Bond villain in Never Say Never Again. He had roles in Footloose, Dune, and Judge Dredd. And who can overlook his role in Rush Hour 3? Seriously, Von Sydow literally did it all.
Max Von Sydow received a pair of Oscar nominations during his career, both comparatively late. In 1989 he received a Best Actor nomination for Swedish film Pelle the Conqueror, which he lost to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. In 2012 he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close which he lost to Christopher Plummer.
With 163 film credits to his name, Max Von Sydow continued to work right up until his death. Modern audiences will likely know him best as the Three-Eyed Raven from Game of Thrones, for which he received his second Emmy nomination, or as Lor San Tekka, the man who launched the new Star Wars trilogy with a small but important role in the opening scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also appeared on The Simpsons in 2014, because what career could possibly be complete without an appearance on The Simpsons? He also has one final film, Echos of the Past, which is apparently in post-production.
While it's always sad to see a Hollywood great pass away, when you look back at the actor's incredible filmography that is both massive and massively varied, it's almost difficult to be upset. You have to believe the man played every role he ever wanted and no matter what sort of movies you love, Von Sydow had an impact on them. If he were still with us he'd probably still be making movies, and one can always wonder what we'll miss, but there is plenty of work out there for fans looking to remember.