Five Swedish Actors: The Horror EditionOctober 30, 2019
The Umgås staffers are movie-goers – we’ve covered Swedish-inspired, -themed and -directed films for the hopeless romantic, families and the brave; classic actors including two-time Bond girl Maud Adams and the woman who brought Pippi Longstocking to life, Inger Nilsson; A-list Swedish celebrities including Alicia Vikander and the irresistible Alexander Skarsgård (actually, all the Skarsgårds) and so much more.
In the spirit of Halloween, we’re bringing attention to our five favorite Swedish actors who killed it – in some cases literally – in their roles in popular horror films and TV shows.
Helena Mattsson, Agnetha in “American Horror Story: Hotel”
The “American Horror Story” series on FX is some of the most horrifying and graphic programs to air on cable television. Swedish actress Helena Mattsson made her debut in the series during Season 5: Hotel. Mattsson plays the role of Agnetha, ironically, a Scandinavian tourist who checks into the Cortez Hotel during Episode 1 and never checks out. Even though Mattsson plays one of many victims on the show, she puts on an excellent performance while being held hostage, being prepped to be “food” for vampires. She appears in five episodes throughout the season. The horror genre was not new to Mattsson when she joined the show. In 2004, she was cast in her first movie, a Swedish slasher film called “Drowning Ghost” and later played characters in “Seven Psychopaths” and sci-fi thriller “Species: The Awakening.”
Lina Leandersson, Eli in “Let the Right One In”
“Let the Right One In,” based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, is one of the most well-known Swedish horror films and takes place in Blackeberg, Sweden. Iranian-Swedish actress Lina Leandersson stars in her first major lead role as Eli, a long-time 12-year-old vampire. Her dark, yet child-like, character promts 12-year-old Oskar to kill and harvest fresh blood from a passerby, and they later run away together. Before her fame as a child vampire, Leandersson performed in amateur theater performances and as a jury member in Lilla Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest. After filming “Let the Right One In,” Leandersson stuck to a career in dark films, playing the role of Ronja in “The Arbiter,” a 2013 film about a vengeful, murderous scientist, and Zerin in the thriller “Broken Hill Blues.”
Max von Sydow, Father Lankester Merrin in “The Exorcist”
Max von Sydow’s role as Father Lankester Merrin earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. The controversial and gruesome film about the exorcism of a young girl possessed by demonic entities earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture – the first horror movie to earn a nomination – and is one of the highest-grossing films in history (adjusted for inflation). Born and raised in Sweden, von Sydow is an internationally-known actor also known for his roles as “Game of Thrones’” Three-eyed Raven, Lor San Tekka in “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” and Dr. Naehring in “Shutter Island.”
Bill Skarsgård, Pennywise in “It” and “It Chapter Two”
Because what “Swedish actors roundup” would be complete without a Skarsgård? The 2017 remake of “It” featured Bill Skarsgård as one of the most iconic horror villains in history, Pennywise the killer clown. His creepy performance was done so well, not only were viewers terrified, but the actor himself also was left scarred and admitted to having nightmares after filming. “It Chapter Two” fueled more box-office success in 2019. Before playing Pennywise, Skarsgård’s first major role that put him on the map was as Roman Godfrey, a half-human, half-Upir (vampire) in the series “Hemlock Grove.”
Robert Englund, Freddy Krueger in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and sequels
Robert Englund’s role as Freddy Krueger defined what nightmares are made of. The well-known actor with Swedish descent played the terrifying role of villain and murderer Freddy Krueger in seven editions of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” spanning nearly two decades – though the finale, “Freddy vs. Jason,” was a mashup of “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
Englund continued to take on roles in horror films throughout his career, appearing in “The Mangler,” “Urban Legend,” “The Funhouse Massacre,” “Inkubus” and dozens more. After starring in more than more than 75 feature length films and four TV series, Englund continues to work in film and directs, according to his website.