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Swedish actor, director, author, scriptwriter and producer. Born and died in Stockholm. Married to actresses Kristina Adolphson and Barbro Larsson. Father of actresses Charlotta Larsson and Fanny Josephson.-Best known perhaps as one of Ingmar Bergman's favourite actors, Erland Josephson was also a prolific author, playwright and essayist who wrote a number of autobiographical diaries which analysed the art and magic of acting and at the same time provided vivid portraits of friends and colleagues: "Rollen", "Sanningslekar", "Föreställningar",...

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Biography

Swedish actor, director, author, scriptwriter and producer. Born and died in Stockholm. Married to actresses Kristina Adolphson and Barbro Larsson. Father of actresses Charlotta Larsson and Fanny Josephson.

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Best known perhaps as one of Ingmar Bergman's favourite actors, Erland Josephson was also a prolific author, playwright and essayist who wrote a number of autobiographical diaries which analysed the art and magic of acting and at the same time provided vivid portraits of friends and colleagues: "Rollen", "Sanningslekar", "Föreställningar", "Självporträtt", "Vita sanningar" och "Svarslös" (1989-1996). He was also a skilful and much-respected manager: head of Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre 1966-1975, chairman of the Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film 1963-1966, chairman of the Association of Swedish Theatres and Orchestras 1972-1973 and a longstanding board member of the Swedish Film Institute.

Josephson came from a richly talented Jewish family: he was a relative of the painter Ernst Josephson and his uncle, Ragnar Josephson, was head of the Royal Dramatic Theatre and a member of the Swedish Academy. He became an actor more or less by chance. While still at senior school he became good friends with Ingmar Bergman, worked with him at the Student Theatre in 1939, then followed him to Helsingborg and on to the Göteborg City Theatre, 1945-1955. He came to the Royal Dramatic Theatre, to which he remained faithful for the rest of his life, in 1956. As a stage actor, however, he seldom played the biggest roles, but was usually a stalwart of the more heavyweight, second tier parts.

As an actor he came to prominence in Bergman's So Close to Life (Nära livet, 1958; US title: Brink of Life), The Face (Ansiktet, 1958; US title: The Magician), Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen, 1968) and The Passion of Anna (En Passion, 1969) but his major - and international - breakthrough came with Scenes from a Marriage (Scener ur ett äktenskap, 1973). Josephson is certainly one of those actors who improved with age. "One should age before one is harvested", as he himself put it, especially since his own style, often ironic and self-deprecating yet always spiritual, was well suited to the cultured older men he was often asked to play, such as Nietzsche in Liliana Cavani's Beyond Good and Evil (Al di là del bene e del male, 1977) and David Sprengel in Mai Zetterling's Amorosa (1986).

He did age gracefully, too - both mentally and physically - a fact which attracted a raft of the most acclaimed directors of the age, Angelopoulos, Brooks, Greenaway, Szabo and Tarkovsky, who utilised his charisma and personal "presence" in a number of major international films. In the latter's Nostalgia (Nostalghia, 1983) and The Sacrifice (Offret, 1986) Josephson gave a powerful, insightful portrayal of the complex, religious characters of Tarkovsky's remarkable mystery plays. His most memorable roles also include, of course, that of the Jewish antiques dealer Isak Jacobi in Bergman's Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander, 1982) and the elderly, cantankerous, Johan in Bergman's Saraband (2003).

In the former of these Josephson, somewhat unusually, was allowed to give rein to a certain light heartedness, a trait he displayed so readily in his private life. Wit and humour were among his principal qualities, coming to the fore when he and Bergman co-wrote The Pleasure Garden (Lustgården, Alf Kjellin, 1961) and All these Women (För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor, Ingmar Bergman, 1963), and also when Josephson himself, with mixed results, tried his luck as a television dramatist and filmmaker in the 1960s and 1970s.

Of his seven television plays the incisive satire Rätt ut i luften ('Right Out in the Air', 1978) is the best. Jan Malmsjö plays a self-satisfied television presenter who is brought down to earth by his interviewee, Marie Göranzon. These two actors also played major parts in his second and final film, the comedy Marmalade Revolution (Marmeladupproret, 1980).

Bengt Forslund (2012)

(translated by Derek Jones)

Awards

The Guldbagge Award Göteborg 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award
Festival Award Rouen 1993 Sofie (skådespelarpriset)
Golden Hugo Chicago 1992 Sofie (skådespelarpriset)
The Guldbagge Award Stockholm 1987 Best Actor in a Leading Role Amorosa (för roller i denna film och i Offret)
Stockholm 1987 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Sacrifice (för roller i denna film och i Amorosa)
Festival Award Rimini 1986 (hederspris)

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