The man who played chess with Death, helped the Resistance, and led Brandon Stark on the path to the Iron Throne has died. Actor Max von Sydow, known for iconic roles in Minority Report, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Game of Thrones, and so many others, was 90 years old.
Von Sydow’s wife and production assistant, Catherine Brelet, confirmed the news with Paris Match, telling the French news outlet (translated to English): “It is with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max Von Sydow on March 8, 2020.” She also asked fans and media for privacy as they mourn his loss.
The prolific Swedish actor made his debut in 1958’s as Antonius Bock, a knight who returns from the Crusades only to discover his home is rampaged by the Black Death. Feeling disillusioned about his faith and wanting to survive the disease, he challenges Death to a chess match”one that he tries to keep going forever, to no avail. It’s considered one of the greatest films of all time, and set von Sydow on a path to a long and successful career.
For genre fans, von Sydow is perhaps best known for his appearances in The Exorcist, David Lynch’s Dune, Minority Report, Flash Gordon, and as Esbern in the video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, for which he also provided narration for its beloved reveal trailer. He also provided the dubbed voice of Vigo the Carpathian (played by Wilhelm von Homburg) in Ghostbusters 2.
More recently, Sydow also made a memorable appearance in The Force Awakens, where he played Lor San Tekka, the mysterious man who gave Poe Dameron the map fragment leading to Luke Skywalker. Much of his backstory was sadly not included in the film, but the books provided an in-depth look at the character’s history.
On the small screen, he gained even more genre cred when he notably took on the role of the Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones‘ sixth season, providing counsel and guidance to Brandon Stark on his journey to becoming king of Westeros.