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Max Von Sydow On 'Extremely Loud' Oscar Nomination

Max Von Sydow

First Posted: 02/10/2012 2:02 pm Updated: 02/10/2012 2:03 pm

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," Stephen Daldry's big-screen adaptation of the 2005 Jonathan Safran Foer novel, is nominated in two categories at the 2012 Academy Awards: Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Max Von Sydow.

It's the second Oscar nomination for the Swedish actor; his first was for 1987's "Pelle the Conqueror," and the 82-year-old shows no signs of slowing down. It seems as if his colleagues are standing behind his nomination: He received a standing ovation at a star-studded Academy Awards luncheon earlier this month.

Von Sydow talked to The Huffington Post about playing a mute man in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" and how Swedish actors are all the rage lately.

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" is centered on 9/11. Where were you on that day?
My wife and I were in Sweden. We were driving along a highway and the mobile phone rang, and it was one of our sons in France who said, "You have to come home! Don't fly, drive home, there's a war going on! They're attacking America." So, we went to the hotel as soon as possible and were stuck at the TV, of course, for the rest of that day and night. We were shocked, as I'm sure so many people all over the world were, by what happened and the fact that some criminals could dream up this nightmare terrorist attack.

Doesn't seem like much has changed since then, has it?
No, not very much. Of course the situation today is very much about education. There are so many people in the world where education is not what it should be, so they behave without knowing anything about history, without seeing the catastrophe of starting tragedies like wars.

What attracted you to the role of the silent character you play, known as "the Renter"?
First of all, it's a wonderful story. I was extremely moved by it when I read it, and I think it's a great part. You don't know who the hell this guy is and what's wrong with him. The questions you have to ask yourself before you get all the answers, that's very exciting, I think, for an actor to play someone a little mystical.

Was it easier because you didn't have to learn any lines?
I had to learn lines. I just didn't pronounce them vocally.

It's funny that you're nominated for your role playing a mute man, and "The Artist," a silent movie, is also nominated.
It is. it's a strange coincidence indeed, but you cannot compare them.

You're most famous for your long working relationship with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.
Bergman was a great name very early on in Sweden. He was considered by many people to be very shocking and controversial. The old-fashioned bourgeoisie were disturbed by him because he chose subjects that one didn't talk about.

The last few years you've been in some great movies.
It has been great fun. It was wonderful to work with Martin Scorsese [on "Shutter Island."] I enjoyed that very much. I've been lucky.

Swedish actors seem to be having a moment, especially after "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
I think we have a tradition of good acting. We have had municipal theaters for many years and they have acting schools where they don't just give lessons to young people, but one can stay and be hired and work, to do any part, big or small, but work all the time. That is what happened to me; I spent nine years in municipal theaters. It's the best schooling, because you can't learn acting by theory, you do it and you do it and do it, and that's the only way.

Check out a clip from "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" below:

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