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'Star Wars,' 'Exorcist' Actor Max von Sydow Dead at 90

'Star Wars,' 'Exorcist' Actor Max von Sydow Dead at 90
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Max von Sydow, the esteemed Swedish actor associated with the films of Ingmar Bergman, and who went on to appear in numerous Hollywood hits, died Sunday at 90.

His widow, French filmmaker Catherine Brelet, confirmed his death.

Von Sydow made his film debut in Alf Sjöberg's "Only a Mother" (1949) while still a student at Dramaten in Stockholm. He met Bergman in 1955, and went on to star in 11 of his films. The filmmaker referred to von Sydow as "the first and best Stradivarius" he had ever worked with, and their collaborations included the classics "The Seventh Seal" (1957), in which von Sydow's knight Antonius Block plays chess with Death, "Wild Strawberries" (1957) and "The Virgin Spring" (1960).

Lured to Hollywood to play Jesus Christ in the dud "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965), von Sydow's gravitas and imposing physical presence (he was a strapping 6'3") led to nonstop work, even if his accent — much to his chagrin — meant he was often cast as a villain.

He appeared in such films as "Hawaii" (1966; Golden Globe nomination), "The Emigrants" (1971), "The Exorcist" (1973, Golden Globe nomination), "Three Days of the Condor" (1975), "Flash Gordon" (1980), "Conan the Barbarian" (1982), "Never Say Never Again" (1983), "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986), "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999), "Minority Report" (2002), "Shutter Island" (2010), and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015).

In spite of his 70-year career and universal acclaim, he never won an Oscar, though was nominated for Best Actor for "Pelle the Conqueror" (1987), and for Best Supporting Actor for "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" (2012).

On TV, he shone on "Red King, White Knight" (1990; Emmy nomination), "The Tudors" (2009), and Season 6 of "Game of Thrones" (2016; Emmy nomination), and in 2014 lent his voice to an episode of "The Simpsons."

Von Sydow is survived by Brelet, his second wife, and by his two sons from his first marriage, to the late actress Christina Inga Britta Olin.