Max von Sydow, ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Seventh Seal’ Star, Dies at 90

The Swedish actor earned two Oscar nominations in his decades-long career

Last Updated: March 9, 2020 @ 6:08 AM

Max von Sydow, the prolific Swedish actor who first made his name in Ingmar Bergman films like 1957’s “The Seventh Seal” before progressing to international renown in hits like “The Exorcist” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” died Sunday at age 90.

During his decades-long career, he earned two Oscar nominations, for his lead role as a picked-on Swedish immigrant to a Danish farming community in Bille August’s 1987 drama “Pelle the Conqueror” and then as a mute old man in Stephen Daldry’s post-9/11 drama “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

Born into a wealthy family on the Swedish coast, von Sydow studied at the national drama school before meeting Bergman in 1955. The two collaborated in theater before embarking on a series of influential films that increased in reputation worldwide, beginning with “The Seventh Seal” and then “The Magician,” “The Virgin Spring” and “Wild Strawberries.”

After making his Hollywood debut playing Jesus Christ in George Stevens’ 1965 biblical epic “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” he became a fixture in American cinema. He had a memorable role as a tortured man of the cloth in 1973’s “The Exorcist” as well as key performances in 1975’s “Three Days of the Condor,” 1982’s “Conan the Barbarian,” Woody Allen’s 1986 drama “Hannah and Her Sisters,” 1990’s “Awakenings” and Steven Spielberg’s 2002 blockbuster “Minority Report.”

Von Sydow continued working well into his 80s. He appeared as an ally of the resistance in the opening scenes of J.J. Abrams’ 2015 film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as well as the Three-Eyed Raven in the sixth season of “Game of Thrones.”