Swedish actor. His many collaborations with the director Ingmar Bergman began with Det sjunde inseglet/The Seventh Seal (1957) and include Nattvardsgästerna/Winter Light (1962) and Skammen/Shame (1968). He has also appeared in English-language films, including Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report (2002).
With his dignified, earnest, and imposing presence, von Sydow made his Hollywood debut playing Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Ironically, however, he has been cast as a villain in most of his English-language films. He earned an Academy Award nomination for Pelle Erobreren/Pelle the Conqueror (1988).
Von Sydow was born in Lund, Skåne, and trained at the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm. He made his film debut in 1949, but was mostly on stage until the late 1950s, becoming one of Sweden's finest classical actors.
In The Seventh Seal his character, a medieval knight, plays chess with Death for the lives of a family during a plague epidemic. Among his other films for Bergman are Smultronstället/Wild Strawberries (1957), Ansiktet/The Face (1958; named The Magician in the USA), Jungfrukällan/The Virgin Spring (1960), Såsom i en spegel/Through a Glass Darkly (1962), Vargtimmen/Hour of the Wolf (1968), and Beröringen/The Touch (1971).
His other films include The Quiller Memorandum (1966), Hawaii (1966), The Exorcist (1973), Flash Gordon (1986), The Ox (1991), and The Silent Touch and Needful Things (both 1993), and Snow Falling on Cedars (1999).