Max von Sydow

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Max von Sydow (born 10 April 1929; pronounced /vɒn ˈsiːdoʊ/ in English,[1] [fɔn ˈsyːdɔv] in Swedish) is a Swedish actor. He has also held French citizenship since 2002. He has starred in many movies and had supporting roles in dozens more. He has performed in movies filmed in many languages, including Swedish, Norwegian, English, Italian, German, Danish, French and Spanish.

Some of his most memorable film roles include knight Antonius Block in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told, Father Merrin in The Exorcist, Joubert in Three Days of the Condor, and Ming the Merciless in the 1980 version of Flash Gordon.


Early life

Von Sydow was born Carl Adolf von Sydow[2] to a wealthy family in Lund, Skåne, Sweden. His father, Carl Wilhelm von Sydow, was an ethnologist and professor of Irish, Scandinavian and comparative folklore at the University of Lund. His mother, Baroness Greta (née Rappe), was a school teacher.[3] Von Sydow was brought up as a Lutheran and later became an agnostic.[4]

He attended the Cathedral School of Lund, and learned German and English starting at the age of nine. At school, he and some friends founded an amateur theatre company. He completed National Service before studying at the Royal Dramatic Theatre ("Dramaten") in Stockholm, where he trained between 1948 and 1951 with the likes of Lars Ekborg, Margaretha Krook and Ingrid Thulin. During his time at Dramaten, he made his screen debut in Alf Sjöberg's films Only a Mother (Bara en mor, 1949), and Miss Julie (Fröken Julie, 1951), a screen version of Swedish playwright August Strindberg's well known play.

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