Stellan John Skarsgård (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈstɛlː.ˈan ˈskɒːʂɡoːɖ] ( listen); born 13 June 1951) is a Swedish actor, though he is best known internationally for his roles in English-language films.
Skarsgård started his acting career early. At the age of 21 he already had a great deal of experience in film, TV and stage. Most of his early roles were in Swedish TV (such as Bombi Bitt) and movies. Of Skarsgård’s Swedish film work, he is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who worked to save Holocaust victims. The movie was filmed in Budapest, in the only Jewish ghetto to survive World War II.
Skarsgård is particularly associated with director Lars von Trier. He appeared in four of the Danish auteur's features-- The Kingdom, Breaking the Waves, Dogville and Melancholia. His most personal working relationship, however, is with Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland. Relevant films here are Kjærlighetens kjøtere, Aberdeen and A Somewhat Gentle Man (2010). Skarsgård considers Moland a close friend. Before shooting their next project in 2009, he said of their relationship: "We're like an old married couple and I get separation anxiety." Aside from these, his best-known Scandinavian work is probably his leading role in another Norwegian film as the guilt-ridden policeman Jonas Engström in the original Insomnia.
Skarsgård’s first American film was the 1984 movie Noon Wine directed by Michael Fields, in which Skarsgård played a mentally disturbed immigrant farmhand being chased by a bounty hunter. He played opposite Fred Ward, who portrayed the farmer.
He was considered for the role of Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List. Skarsgård reported that people often mistook him for Liam Neeson who portrayed Schindler in the film. Skarsgård would in fact replace Neeson in Exorcist: The Beginning (2004). He had a guest stint on the HBO TV Series Entourage as Verner Vollstedt, the German director of the fictional film Smokejumpers who has a bias against the main character Vincent Chase, one of the stars of the film.
Skarsgård appeared in 2011's Thor as fictional character Erik Selvig.
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