Max von Sydow - legendary Swedish actor

 Legendary Swedish actor Max von Sydow died on 8 March 2020.

His career included performances in some of the most iconic and influential films of the 20th century.

He was born Carl Adolf von Sydow in Lund on 10 April 1929 to an upper-class family. Drawn to the stage as a student he founded several theatre companies in his youth.

During his service in the Swedish military, he was captivated by a circus performance and adopted the star’s first name Max.

He starred in his first film at the age of 20 and married his first wife and fellow actor Christina Olin in 1951. They had two children together.

In 1957, he appeared in Ingmar Bergman’s “Seventh Seal”. The movie included the signature chess match with Death, a striking image referenced countless times.

Max would work with Bergman on ten more films. In 1973 he gave his most well-known performance in “The Exorcist” as Father Merrin.

In 1979 he divorced his wife of 18 years. Over the following decades, he would act in films by notable directors such as David Lynch’s version of “Dune”, Woody Allen’s “Hannah and her Sisters”, and Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report”.

Max married Catharine Berlet and also adopted her children in 1997. They lived in France for the rest of his life.

He would later renounce his Swedish citizenship to gain a French passport. He continued to work in film and appeared in Hollywood blockbusters like “Rush Hour 3” and prestige pictures like “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”.

His career went beyond stage and cinema; he appeared in notable television and video game projects such as “Game of Thrones” and “The Elder Scrolls”. He received nominations for both the Oscars and Emmys.


Our historic archive includes press and promotional photographs from across Max von Sydow’s life.

Many of these vintage photos have not been seen in decades and some were never published.