Max von Sydow dies aged 90

Tom Butler
Senior Editor

The Exorcist star Max von Sydow has died aged 90, his agent Jean Diamond has confirmed to PA.

The Oscar-nominated actor is said to have died at his home in France.

A statement said: “It is with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max von Sydow, March 8, 2020.”

Actor Max von Sydow arrives at the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", 2015. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Dodge)

Appearing in over 100 films and TV series, the Sweden-born actor was best known for his performances in Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, as Father Merrin in the iconic horror film The Exorcist, as Ming The Merciless in Flash Gordon, and more recently as Lor San Tekka in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and as the Three-eyed Raven in HBO’s Game of Thrones, for which he received an Emmy nomination.

Swedish actors Bengt Ekerot and Max Von Sydow on the set of Det Sjunde Inseglet (The Seventh Seal), written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

His last film appearance was in Thomas Vinterberg’s 2018 film Kursk alongside Colin Firth and Matthias Schoenaerts.

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Von Sydow received two Academy Awards nominations in his lifetime. One for Best Actor in 1987’s Pelle The Conquerer, and one for Best Supporting Actor in 2012’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. He received Golden Globe nominations for his work in The Exorcist and Hawaii.

Swedish actor Max von Sydow and American actress Linda Blair on the set of The Exorcist, based on the novel by William Peter Blatty and directed by William Friedkin. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

He is survived by four children and his wife Catherine Brelet. He married Brelet in 1997 and became a citizen of France in 2002, relinquishing his Swedish citizenship.

UK film critic Mark Kermode, who interviewed von Sydow for his The Exorcist documentary The Fear of God, was among those paying tribute to the actor. The radio presenter simply shared his headshot without a caption.

Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright hailed the actor as “an iconic presence in cinema”.

Guardian film critic Guy Lodge also paid tribute to the actor’s ability to bring “unpredictable humanity” to films.

Talking about Von Sydow while promoting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director JJ Abrams called the actor “a gentleman”.

“He was awesome,” Abrams told Vanity Fair. “It was interesting because normally I would be nothing but terrified at the thought of directing an actor like Max von Sydow because, you’d think, ‘That’s a guy who’s going to see right through you’.

Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Disney)

“But the truth is he was such a gentleman, so sweet, that he made it easy. He had to work a lot of late nights, too, and he was a complete trooper.”