Max von Sydow Dead at 90. Who Did the Legendary Actor Play on ‘Game of Thrones’?

Swedish-born actor Max von Sydow has died. He passed away Sunday, March 8 at age 90. “It is with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max,” his representatives said in a statement.

The legendary actor is likely best-known to younger audiences for his work on Game of Thrones. But he had a long career in many memorable films, including The Seventh Seal, The Exorcist, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Max von Sydow played the Three-Eyed Raven on ‘Game of Thrones’

Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow | Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

Game of Thrones fans will recognize von Sydow from his work on the HBO series, where he played the Three-Eyed Raven. 

The mysterious character first appeared onscreen in his human form in season 4, episode 10, when Bran, Meera, and Hodor finally find him in a cave north of the wall, with the help of the Children of the Forest. (The Three-Eyed Raven had appeared in earlier episodes in the form of a bird.) However, in that episode, titled “The Children,” he was portrayed by Struan Rodger. 

The Three-Eyed Raven wasn’t featured in season 5 of GoT, but he returned in season 6. That’s when Von Sydow took over the role. He played the character in three episodes that season: “Home,” “Oathbreaker,” and “The Door.” 

Von Sydow worked frequently with Ingmar Bergman 

The knight plays chess with death in The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal | ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Von Sydow, who was born in 1929, began acting in his native Sweden in the late 1940s. Soon, he began his partnership with director Ingmar Bergman, with whom he collaborated on many films. The pair first worked together on The Seventh Seal, where von Sydow famously portrays a medieval knight who plays a game of chess with death. The 1957 movie is widely regarded as one of the best movies ever made

Von Sydow would go on to star in many other notable Bergman movies, including The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, and The Passion of Anna

He was nominated for two Academy Awards 

Von Sydow was nominated for two Academy Awards in his life. In 1989 he was recognized in the best actor category for Pelle the Conqueror, though he lost to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. In 2012, he was nominated for best supporting actor in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, even though he did not speak a single line of dialogue in the film. That year, Christopher Plummer won for Beginners. 

In 1965, von Sydow played Jesus in the epic The Greatest Story Ever Told. In the 1970s, he played a priest brought in to expel a demon from a little girl in The Exorcist. He also appeared in David Lynch’s Dune and Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. In 1989, he provided the voice for Vigo the Carpathian in Ghostbusters II, taking over from Wilhelm von Homburg, who played the character onscreen. One of his last film appearances was in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka, a man on Jakku who gives Poe Dameron a fragment of an important map that will lead to Luke Skywalker; he was later killed by Kylo Ren. 

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