PROVENCE, France (CelebrityAccess) — Max von Sydow, a prolific actor of the stage and screen, best known for his role as the Knight who played a high stakes game of chess with Death in Ingmar Bergman’s existentialist masterpiece ‘The Seventh Seal’ has died. He was 90.
Von Sydow also portrayed Jesus Christ in George Stevens’ The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); Father Lankester Merrin in William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic The Exorcist; and Doctor Kynes David Lynch’s 1973 sci-fi epic Dune.
His passing was announced by his manager Jean Diamond on social media: “My wonderful client and friend passed away after a short illness at home. I have been so fortunate to have so many amazing years with him. ”
Born in Lund, Sweden, in 1929, Von Sydow was inspired to pursue a career in acting after seeing a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and after a stint in the Swedish military, he studied at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm.
Von Sydow made his screen debuts in Alf Sjöberg’s films Only a Mother and Miss Julie while still a student, and appeared in local theatrical productions where he met Swedish director, writer, and producer Ingmar Bergman, who would go on to serve as a mentor for von Sydow.
Sydow would go on to appear in 11 of Bergman’s films, including “The Virgin Spring,” “Wild Strawberries,” and “The Seventh Sign,” which would help introduce von Sydow to international audiences.
As his international acclaim grew, von Sydow relocated to Los Angeles, where he became a regular in American cinema, appearing in everything from Flash Gordon to Three Days of the Condor.
In addition to his work on the silver screen, von Sydow also continued to appear on stage, including roles on Broadway in Night of the Tribades and Duet for One and at London’s Old Vic Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the role of Prospero, which he had previously played in Sweden.
Most recently, von Sydow appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka and Game of Thrones as the Three-eyed Raven; for which he was been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.
In 2002, Von Sydow became a citizen of France, at which time he had to forego his Swedish citizenship.
Von Sydow married actress Christina Inga Britta Olin in 1951. They had two sons, Clas and Henrik. The couple divorced in 1979. Von Sydow later married documentarian Catherine Brelet in 1997 and adopted Brelet’s two children from a previous marriage.