January 18, 2018

Michael's Du Forsvinder co-star, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, recently spoke to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet about their relationship. The Danish actor has a role in the upcoming HBO Nordic fantasy series, Britannia. During filming, Nikolaj received support from Michael. He says, "For a short period, he meant everything to me. When doing Britannia, he called me and asked how I felt and wanted to hear how my life was. He said nothing about his illness." Nicolaj was crushed when he received the news of his death. The fact that Michael did not want to talk about his cancer came as a surprise to him. He explains, "It was because he was proud. I understand that. At the same time, I was shocked and a little disappointed that he would not tell me."

One major reason why Nikolaj loved making "Du forsvinder" was because of Michael. Despite the seriousness of the film, they laughed through the scenes. He says, "He was so calm. I really miss him. There are no words for how kind and generous he was. He was one of the most generous I have ever met."

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BTW, if you're a big fan of Så som i himmelen (As It is in Heaven), you might like to check out this web site of Screenshots.

One of the images on this web site shows an album of family photos and the child shown is Michael as an adorable toddler.


 

January 14, 2018

Last week a show was aired on Swedish television called "Together Against Cancer" with Michael's widow Catherina as a guest. She spoke about her heartache losing her husband to lung cancer in June and about how he handled the diagnosis.

She said, "Micke was absolutely sure that he would be fine. He had so much hope and power." After the diagnosis, they spent a lot of time together. She added, "We suddenly were very much together and did everything together as we always wanted. It was a very good time."

For Michael, it was important that he did not become his illness. He would keep working. Catharina described how they both had difficulty understanding how serious it was. She couldn't understand how he had lung cancer when he was always healthy and sporty and never smoked.

At the end, he suffered from pneumonia and became very ill. He was not hospitalized but received home care. A nurse told Catharina the night before he died, "I just want you to know that pneumonia is very serious and there is a risk that it cannot be reversed."

Tearing up, Catharina explained how he had gone to the bathroom and asked for help because he felt very dizzy. She went to help him and then he fainted. She said, "I did not think he could die."

She wanted to participate in "Together Against Cancer" to show that being alone doesn't help. She said, "I know I called a lot of friends and suddenly the house was full of people... Together we can help each other... We lived together for 23 years so he was my best friend. The only thing that has worked is being with other people."

 
January 12, 2018

Though Michael has a very minor role in the 2008 historical film,  KAUTOKEINO-OPPRÓRET (The Kautokeino Rebellion), I would recommend it for its compelling story, its haunting soundtrack and magnificent cinematography.  The film is based on the true story of the Kautokeino riots in Kautokeino, Norway in 1852 in response to the Norwegian exploitation of the Sami community at that time. The Norwegian Sami director Nils Gaup was born in Kautokeino and descended from one of the insurgents.

Among the mainly Norwegian cast, the film features three major Swedish actors. Besides Michael, it stars Mikael Persbrandt (Day and Night) and Peter Andersson (The Millennium Trilogy). Though some of the cast has the same last name of the director, they are not related. Michael plays the preacher Lars Levi Laestadius who founded the Laestadian pietist revival movement to help his largely Sami congregations, who were being ravaged by alcoholism. Gaup wanted to follow up this film with one that focused entirely on this character. He said, "I see a role figure like Amadeus in front of me. And Michael has the charisma needed. We have already talked about it." Alas, the project never came to fruition.

The cinematography by Philip Øgaard makes the film well worth watching especially in its sweeping panoramas and the way it captures the snowy landscape and the grandeur of the reindeer herds. To match the action, the soundtrack provides what I would call new age music composed by Mari Boine, Svein Schultz & Herman Rundberg. It all blends together beautifully.

Whe co-star, Norwegian-Sam actor Mikke Gaup, received the news of Michael's death, he was among those who expressed great sorrow: "It's an unbelievably sad message to get. Michael was a very talented and distinctly Swedish actor. In the top spot for many years."

 
January 7, 2018

A new film page! If any of you have viewed HEM LJUVA HEM (Home Sweet Home), you know it's not an easy film to watch except to see an explosive Michael Nyqvist play a distinctly dislikable character. It was a low-budget film (0.9 million Euro), which debuted in 2001, about a wife-beating husband with terrible outbursts of rage. It was a partly autobiographical story by young first-time director Dan Ying, a former film editor and stunt coordinator.  

For the second time, Michael played an abusive husband and this time he also displayed violent behavior toward his son. In Luke Moodysson's highly successful film "Tillsammans" [Together], his anger is the reason why the family flees to a collective.

Michael saw the difference between Rolf and Kent - "One says sorry immediately while the other regrets nothing. These films give a voice to what you do not talk about. The violence and stupidity that can be found behind the beautiful façade with family, villa and car. Kent is unemployed, has lost control of himself, is completely fucked-up. There are such people. Every twenty-four minutes a woman in Sweden is being beaten."

Playing an abusive husband and father was tough for Michael. He admitted, "I never go into a role half-heartedly. I liked the feeling in the script. I knew that Kent really loved his wife and child but I couldn't forgive him."

He explained that his own grandfather, who died in the 1930s, is his family's black ghost in the closet because he used to hit his children with a stick. Michael said, "Personally, I have never hit a single person throughout my life."

Five years later Stasse Soulis, who plays Kent's son Stefan, and Michael went on to play another father and son pair in the film "Underbara  älskade" [Suddenly]. Working together they formed a lasting friendship and Stasse was quite saddened and surprised by Michael's death. Here's a photo of him at the July funeral. You'll note from his name that his father was Greek but his mother was Finnish.

He recalls, "We had a pretty special relationship. In a certain way we became father and son. I have not learned as much about acting from anyone else."

Stasse talks about how Michael took him under his wings and helped him with his career, giving him advice about stage school. He also fixed agents for him - the same as he himself had. That was who called him on June 27th with the news of Michael's death.

The last time Stasse saw Michael was at the premiere of "A Serious Game" during the fall of 2016. Soulis says, "He was his usual happy self so I had no idea. And then... It was damn, damn tough when his death happened so unexpectedly... I will remember him as my greatest source of inspiration, my mentor and my idol."

 
January 1, 2018

Each year, Scandinavia House in NYC presents the films chosen by Nordic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film. This year the series will feature Du forsvinder (You Disappear) on Friday, January 5 at 7 pm. The Danish film will be presented with English subtitles.

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This past week Dagens Nyheter ran an ad placed by his wife Catharina and his children Ellen and Arthur. The family wanted to thank everyone who showed support in their difficult time. The ad read, "Thank you to all those who attended Michael's funeral and made an unbearable day a little brighter." In addition, the ad confirmed that the Michael Nyqvist Foundation has become a reality - "Special thanks to those who donated to the Michael Nyqvist Foundation, which enables us to advance Micke's conviction of acting as a healing power in society. Each year, the Foundation will appoint an actor who works in his spirit. All contributions to the Foundation are welcome".

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Here's the photo the IMDB used for Michael in their "In Memoriam". I'm glad they didn't use one from the Millennium trilogy but I would have preferred a better photo.

 
December 28, 2017

Swedish media has announced that the 2004 film "Så som i himmelen" (aka "As It is in Heaven") will now become a musical. Ten years ago theater producer Vicky von der Lancken contacted director Kay Pollak to discuss the possibility of making a musical based on the film, which won many international achievements. It was nominated for an Oscar in Hollywood for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004. Conversation continued between the two and in recent years tense work began. Now Lancken and Pollak have decided that on September 13, 2018, the musical of the film will premiere at the Oscar Theater in Stockholm.

The title track, "Gabriella's song", will be included but Lancken and Pollak have decided that the performance in its entirety will be filled with moodful music in a broad spectrum. The script is by Kay Pollak  and his wife Carin.

"We will fill the musical with newly written songs and well choreographed dances... The vision is a magnificent, beautiful, happy and moving musical. A spectacular musical experience to remember, filled with love, dance and song." says Lancken.

Pollak responds, "We are going to make a Swedish Puccini. Both pain and love."

The musical is being produced by Vicky Nöjesproduktion and 2Entertain.

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In a tribute to those who have died in 2017, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter featured this photo of Michael.

 
December 24, 2017
 

 
December 22, 2017

Adding to Michael's filmography, I've posted the film page for the 1999 Swedish comedy, VÄGEN UT, directed by Daniel Lind Lagerlöf with a screenplay by his wife Malin. The English title was "Breaking Out" and the story was inspired by a true event when Jan Jönsson directed Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" at Kumla Prison and took the ensemble of inmates to Gothenburg's City Theater for a official opening performance. Four out of five of the inmates escaped.

Sadly, tragedy struck the director at the early age of 42. While doing research for an upcoming movie and taking photos, Lagerlöf disappeared from two other members of the crew, and has not been seen since October 6, 2011. He is presumed dead near Tanumshede on the Swedish west coast.

The film was quite successful in the Scandinavian countries and had a social involvement which created direct associations to the British success of The Full Monty and the classic "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." It was also released in Italy, Germany, Argentina, Spain and Greece. Lagerlöf received two awards - the Audience Award at the Lübeck Nordic Film Days and Most Enjoyable Film at the Norwegian International Film Festival. The screenplay was nominated for a Guldbagge and the film's star, Björn Kjellman, won a Guldbagge for Best Actor while Shanti Roney won for Best Supporting Actor.

A Chinese fan wrote me recently about one of the cast members in this film - Swedish-Chinese actor Lixin Zhao. When Michael died in June, he posted the following along with this photo:

"Michael, dear old friend, your footsteps to heaven come too fast! You big, handsome and happy man, wherever you went, those beautiful girls smiled at you like sunflowers. The scene of us running on the field feels like yesterday... Now go old friend, we will meet sooner or later. May your whistle in heaven be loud."  

 
December 17, 2017

As an actor, Michael has always looked for unique and creative projects, never afraid to try something new. In 2014 he participated in Meriç Algün Ringborg's 32-minute video called "A World of Blind Chance", which became part of her exhibition at the Frieze Art Fair in New York. In an exercise in constrained writing, she composed a script for a theater play using only the Oxford English Dictionary's exemplifying sentences. All the lines in the monologue were delivered by Michael and all his moves and details of the set were dictated by Algün Ringborg in her attempt to explore the act of writing and creating by not writing or making anything. It was a look at authorship, language and creativity. Very heady and existentialistic. The film was also screened  at the Stockholm Literature Festival at the Modern Museum.

In an interview with Algün Ringborg, she explained the process: "The off-screen voice is the author/director character that both narrates the situation but also commands the actor in what to do and how to do it. I see this dictating and authoritarian side of the narrator as a force that creates a tension between all parties involved. In this version of the performance, I worked with Michael Nyqvist, who has been a stage actor at the Royal Dramatic Theatre for a long time, but he wasn't allowed to rehearse the script beforehand. So the half-hour video is basically edited from his first few takes, where he is reading from the script and trying to get a grasp of it whilst acting it out the way the off-screen voice narrates. The struggle that he is going through, trying to understand this rather nonsensical ramble and make the lines into his own whilst performing put him in quite a vulnerable position. And I was, in a way, after that vulnerability as I wanted equally to explore what happened in between the lines, and if within these in-betweens there was the expression of the self, the individualistic traits of that person."

 
December 13, 2017

In 1996 Michael joined the cast of Bille August's epic period piece JERUSALEM in a very minor role, so minor that he didn't even have a name. He was referred to as Carpenter 1 in the cast list. The movie was based on the two-part novel of the same name by Selma Lagerlöf. It was also broadcast as a TV series and the Scandinavian co-production was headed by Svensk Filmindustri. The film was selected as the Swedish entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 69th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

The cast is quite stellar with many familiar names who have acted with Michael in other films - Max Von Sydow, Pernilla August, Maria Bonnevie, Hans Alfredson, Sven-Bertil Taube, Björn Granath and Lena Endre, who won a Guldbagge for her performance.

The novel and the film were inspired by real events from the end of the 19th century, a time when many people left Europe to find a better life abroad. The cinematography is lovely. The Swedish countryside is bleakly beautiful, and the film's Mideast sequences, actually shot in Morocco, range across desolate, rocky, sun-broiled deserts. These places are allegorical, expressions of the inner torment, renunciation, and uncertainty that the unsmiling God of Jerusalem insists on.

As I said, Michael's role is extremely brief with a couple lines of dialogue, but it's certainly a worthwhile watching. The entire film can be viewed [in Swedish] at youtube.com. The links are given on the film page.

On a personal note, my favorite film from Danish director Bille August is "Pelle the Conquerer" with Max Von Sydow. This endearing film rightfully won the Best Foreign-language Picture Oscar in 1987. Highly recommended!

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In July I posted some photos of Michael appearing as a guest on the Swedish TV cooking show "Pluras Jul", hosted by musician Plura Jonsson. It was aired around Christmas a year ago and last week it was broadcast again. You can view a clip from the show on Plura's Instagram page at this link.

In a recent interview with Expressen, Plura shared that during that recording, Michael had told him he had cancer. Plura says, "I thought that he would be fine. He was young and healthy. Then less than a year later he was dead. I took it quite hard."

Plura said he had met Michael last year months before he was a guest on his October 2016 recording. He had come to PA & Co to ask Plura if he could play bass in his program. He apparently played bass guitar. That first meeting grew into a nice friendship. The two of them continued to hang out and talk on the phone every now and then. Michael used to call from different hotels rooms around the world. Plura recalls, "He was very much out in the world. He used to call in the middle of the night from a hotel room in Moscow or Los Angeles. He was an amazing person, kind and caring."

 
December 9, 2017

Keeping his positive spirit alive... A year ago Michael posted this holiday photo of himself. So cool! Did he know it might be his last Christmas? While we miss his presence here on earth, I'm sure he's dancing with the angels this year.

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In the "Books" section, I have added a review of "När barnet lagt sig" by the Vancouver Observer. It reads:

The book is a charming compilation of memories from his childhood and his experiences in theatre school at a young age. He recounts being mesmerized by the magic of theatre after performing a dramatic scene from Crime and Punishment, and getting some positive feedback from highly acclaimed actors.

Nyqvist was only a few years old when his parents told him he was adopted, and that his father was from Italy. Throughout the book, the reader gets to follow his tireless quest to find his biological parents. Nyqvist sends a touching letter to his mother beginning with: "I want to thank you for me being here...". When he finally meets his mother, she refuses to reveal any details about his father and they are not able to connect with each other on a deeper level.

Through meticulous and fearless research, he finally succeeds in finding his father in Florence, Italy, and to his surprise and joy, he is welcomed with open arms into his Latin family.

There is an under layer of sadness throughout the book, and even though he succeeds in finding his roots, the emotional turmoil of finding out he was dropped off at an orphanage as a newborn has left deep emotional scars.

Nyqvist pours his heart into his writing, much like he does with his acting, and the result is a beautifully written book that showcases his gentle, reflective personality. His writing also highlights his determination and willingness to go to great lengths to perform his craft, to find out where he came from and where his place is in the world.

You can view a video interview at this link in which Michael discusses his first book in 2009. Here's a photo of another interview in April 2010 with Sharon Jåma.

In September 2009 Aftonbladet featured an article on the book. Michael wrote about how a child listens to adults speak in another room. Then you hear how they suddenly lower their voices. You understand that what they are talking about will affect your whole life, but you are completely powerless. He understood there were secrets but he didn't know what they were. He compared his lack of knowledge on where he came from like sitting on a train without a seat ticket not knowing where to sit. He says not knowing terrified him.

He admits his book is not fine literature. Asked what he thinks will be the public's reaction, he responds, "I have a favorite writer named Walt Whitman so I'll quote him 'I witness and wait.'"

 
December 5, 2017

When Michael was in British Columbia filming the fourth installment of "Mission Impossible", he was interviewed by the Vancouver Observer. No need to translate this time! It's a lengthy interview and much more revealing than the ones found on Swedish web sites. The photos below show him arriving at Vancouver Airport on December 2, 2010.

What's endearing about the man is that he easily confesses his love for his wife and family and expresses a deep humility despite his stardom.

"I love spending time with my wife, and she is my best friend. She is the one I tell everything to: my thoughts and ideas, everything that goes through my mind. I am still amazed every morning when I wake up and find her beside me. She is so perfect and I sometimes wonder what she sees in me."

 
December 2, 2017

A new addition to the MNA is an interview from the May 13, 2013 issue of Vision Hoglandet at this link. Michael tends to be rather philosophical in interviews and this one is no different. Having just published his second book, he focuses on how self-doubt has plagued him since his childhood and how fame is very much two-sided.

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In 2011 Michael made the cover of the June issue of Scan magazine, an English-language showcase for Scandinavian countries. You can read the article by clicking on the third set of images below. Journalist Signe Hansen writes, ""Dressed unassumingly in a dark suit jacket and blue jeans, it is the actor's charisma and renowned, intense gaze that catch your attention." I'm sure of that! At the end of the article, Michael makes this remark - "I would love to stand on a stage when I am 102 years old playing a ghost - maybe Hamlet's father." And Ms. Hansen adds, "Well, in case he is still standing at 102, we would not mind a couple of the front row seats - he is sure to make an unusually intense ghost."

 
 
 
News Archive:
2017: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

 

 

 

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