Legendary actor Max von Sydow has passed away at the age of 90, it has been confirmed. The Swedish actor was an enduring screen presence whose career spanned several eras of cinema – from repeatedly starring for Ingmar Bergman beginning in the ‘50s, to partaking in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy in the last few years.
Von Sydow’s breakout performance came in 1957’s The Seventh Seal, in which he played Antonius Block – a medieval knight who challenges Death to a game of chess. He would go on to collaborate with Bergman several more times – in Wild Strawberries and Mr. Sleeman Is Coming (also released in 1957), 1958’s Brink Of Life, The Magician, and Rabies, 1960’s The Virgin Spring, 1961’s Through A Glass Darkly, 1963’s Winter Light, 1968’s Hour Of The Wolf and Shame, 1969’s The Passion Of Anna, and 1971’s The Touch.
Elsewhere, von Sydow’s work included a number of iconic roles. In 1965 he played Jesus in George Stevens’ four-plus hour epic The Greatest Story Ever Told. He famously starred as Father Merrin, the conflicted priest struggling to retain his faith, in The Exorcist – a role he reprised in sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic. He was no stranger to outlandish science-fiction – in 1980 he starred as Emperor Ming The Merciless in Flash Gordon, and played Doctor Kynes in David Lynch’s 1984 Dune. In 1983 he played iconic villain Blofed in non-Eon Bond movie Never Say Never Again, and in 1986 he starred in Woody Allen’s Hannah And Her Sisters.
He continued to work for heavyweight directors later into his career, in 2002 starring as PreCrime boss Lamar Burgess in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, and in 2010 appearing in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island as Dr. Naehring and as Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. He also impacted a whole new generation of genre fans in the last decade, starring as the Three-Eyed Raven for a brief but important stint in Game Of Thrones, and appearing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka – the elderly man on Jakku who delivers the map with Luke Skywalker's whereabouts to Poe Dameron, kicking off the events of the Sequel Trilogy. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.