Rolf Holger Lassgård was born in the Swedish city of Östersund, Jämtlands län, on March 29th, 1955. He is married and has three children.
Rolf Lassgård is one of the most well-known actors of Scandinavia.
Already during the schooldays Rolf discovered his preference for acting and joined in in the amateur theater. After he had attended the drama school in Malmö from 1975 to 1978 he changed him to the Skånska Teatern in Landskrona, where he took part in plays of William Shakespeare and Berthold Brecht. His breakthrough he succeeded as the Puck in Shakespeares "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
1982 he followed the director Peter Oskarson to Gävle and worked many years at the Folkteatern.
In the 1990s he worked mainly in front of the camera. He took part in numerous international movies and TV productions and was honored with many prices. Rolf played the roll of the farmer Olof in the film "Under the sun". In 1998 this film was nominated for the Oscar as the best foreign film.
In Germany he got known as inspector Kurt Wallander in the films by the novels of Henning Mankell and as Gunvald Larsson in the Beck-films by the novels of Sjöwall/Wallhö.
Rolf is an enthusiastic supporter of Brynäs IF, the renowned first league ice hockeyteam of Gävle. So often he is permitted by his profession he visits the Brynäs matches.
Besides his preference for ice hockey he is a great music fan. He likes music from the 1960s and 1970s as well as of Bruce Springsteen, T Bone Burnette, Sting and Eric Clapton.
To get a small insight in his life read here some excerpts of interviews Rolf Lassgård gave to the swedish press.
25 years ago Rolf Lassgård moved with his family to Gävle in the middle of Sweden and worked there many years at the Folkteater. He remained also there after he had solved his feast employment at the Folkteater and started to work as freelance actor because he was rooted in Gävle in the meantime. The people there don't see him as the prominent man but are aware of him as a quite normal man. Only the non-local fans put their attention on him at matches of "his" Ice Hockey Club Brynäs.
Rolf Lassgård prefers the life in a small town because the people there are different. He has always lived in small towns and absolutely pulls also professional use from this.
The river Dalälv, south of Gävle, forms a natural boundary for him between work and family life. If he goes to work by train to Stockholm and the Dalälv is crossed, he starts working. Then he reads film scripts or studies dialogs. On the journey home to Gävle he makes it reversed.
Rolf Lassgård grants us a small insight into his childhood and youth.
He tells that his grandparents maternal lived in the village Svedjelandet, some kilometer outside of Östersund, his place of birth. With the grandmother there was everything or nothing. There was room for game and imagination.
In school he started early to go along in a theater group which performed in a food restaurant lying in the cellar. In the early teenager age he lived only for theater and Ice Hockey and took little care about the school. His parents were very worried about this because they didn't understand his interests. They lived another life. His father was sales representative for working clothes and a modern business employee.
In the seventies an experimental theater group whose members were coming from America, Poland, France and Sweden sat down in the village of Storhögen, outside of Östersund. The group called himself " Institute for stagecraft" and was working like the Polish director and theater educationalist Jerzy Grotowski. They looked for new ways for expressing like the physically emphatic theater which is going back to the basis of the dramatic art called the "poor theater".
The group worked like circus artistes and right in the mid of them was the young Rolf Lassgård. He was with them, got help, tried her tricks and was enthusiastically about her ambitions and her seriousness. He took on their way to work. This was his circus dream and his dream of another way of life.
The contact to the theater group in Storhögen has been formative to Rolf Lassgård as actor. He found his way to work and took it along to the drama school in Malmö. After the drama school his way led him from the Skånska Teatern in Landskrona to Gävle together with the director Peter Oskarson.
Peter Oskarson, Rolf Lassgård and other actors wanted to prove that a regional theater as the Folkteater in Gävle is absolutely can touch and rake up and doesn't orientate himself only at the culture elite.
They performed the play "Den stora vreden" in the gasholder (Gasklockan) in Brynäs (Gävle). It is a legend about the history of Norrland (Sweden). The performance lasts six hours and was a success.
After almost thirty working years one wonders how Rolf Lassgård gets himself the joy in his profession. He tells that he had a great depression three to four years ago. He felt exposed to critics and didn't know whether he should continue his work as actor. He also wondered, who these critics are and didn't know if he should expose himself to them, because he he had the feeling to lose his strength piece for piece.
In this Situiation the principal of his drama school in Malmö called him and asked whether he would like to work together with him for half a year on a project what however shouldn't be presented to the public.
So he could do something completely different and be through this depression. This sounds simple but this wasn't it for him. He made extensive walks by Gävle and many thoughts followed him and after and after he saw, that he must trust in himself and do something, he also wants and what it is worth to leave the family in Gävle at times.
Interview by Kerstin Monk - Gefle Dagblad - with Rolf Lassgård, 2004, January
Elling is waiting at home now
We meet us as the new year has just began. Rolf Lassgård and his family have celebrated Christmas and New Year in Gävle, their home town for 20 years. Many of us have seen Rolf on television during the holidays. He was guest in "Det goda samtalet" and as Kurt Wallander in "The Man who smiled".
Rolf will spend more time at home now. Soon he will start the preparations for the play "Elling". Originally a row of books, than a play and afterwards a very moving and popular Norwegian film. The preparations take place in the Municipal theater of Gävle, there will also be the opening night on February 11th. Rolf like it to have time for his family.
Last year he took part among other things in the film "The Queen of Shebas pearls". The shooting took place in England and the film was the latest by Colin Nutley who was shooting for the first time in his native country. In the film only two Swedes join in: Rolf and Helena Bergström.
How was it to take a film in England?
Very thrilling! I am very glad that I was allowed to experience this adventure. It's been a while since I have worked with Colin and Helena. To meet actors from other countries was a present and it was thrillingly.
Which role do you play into this?
A man who is called Deafy. The film starts lasting the times in February 1942 during World War. The plot then jumps into the 50s. I am an old European who drove over here and obtained over there position. I don't think that he has fought. But he almost immediately hurt his hearing. Then he has remained there and was taken by the uncle of the family. Everything plays around a house. There is a priest and the uncle who operates the funeral parlor. Deafy is the temporary help and the undermost in the hierarchy. He is foreigner and has a hindrance. It gives still more but I cannot betray this.
Are you a Swede?
I am a Swede but so many well don't know this. The Swedes weren't so popular as the Norwegians at that time. We were looked at a little like traitor.
And, Helena, what does she play?
A Swedish woman who comes back and searches her mother. She moves the whole house to the head.
Can it be that Colin looks for his own roots and his identity in this film?
Yes, there is a boy growing up in the house. But I don't know as biographical it is. But he has knowledge over his own country. It was beautiful to see how Colins special way to work was working in England. He never writes a dialog. For us Swedes it was good to be forced to translate his texts. This is good for the progress and for the imagination. But some things were impossible to translate.
I remember at "Under solen". I should drive to town and give up an indication and I asked him what I have to do. He said: "I am going to town to meet a man about a dog", This was it I got from Colin, this I should say. This is an English expression which means "nothing that tackles you ", said in a nice way. That isn't any good translation therefore we had to change the situation. It would have been too outrageously to say: "this has got nothing to do with you". In England it was fun to experience Colin, and his desire to the keywords.
How did the English actors react?
They were glad. English actors are more isolated in the big machinery. We were a team and they have liked it very much. It was more like a theater work. It wasn't as if everyone sits in his trailer and waits till you film. It was an unbelievable experience, the older English actors and their enormous know-how to being allowed to experrience. One has got some idols.
And Elling waits now. How did it arrive?
Vicky von der Lancken, the producer, has planned it with Ulveson. They called me several times to find an appointment. I knew which free time I had in the year. Simultaneously it is difficult to decide me, if it is about theater. I have among others played "Stormen" in Gothenburg and which has made great fun. But it has to be turned different from a film. One works the whole day there and one prepares himself in the evening for the next day. In the theater you have a rehearsal. And, if you play, then one waits a whole day to the evening. It is exhausting for the family. This I have told Vicky and she thought we could play also in Gävle which has made the thing to me in various ways more easily.
It shall already be sold out?
There certainly are still some seats. At first it was very fast but it isn't sold out yet.
What do you feel relating to this play?
It is a very warm and pleasant history with mourning and good humor. This one has everything. People who are different have fascinated me always, begun with the village idiot to the Falstaff. I am fascinated by them, the world gets different, if one sees with their eyes.
Where do you find these rolls?
There is a whole crowd there. It is fascinating to be written over these people. I often return to "Morbror Anders", the novel of Molly Johnsson. She has her roots in this district. I read it with great delight from time to time. It is funny and gripping and is very similar to the Elling.
It also will make fun to work with a small group with Gustav Hammarsten in. I met him in "Henrik IV ". He played the prince and me the Falstaff. My last small more intimate history was "La Strada" with the Folkteater and which is very long ago.
You are a great exception in the film and theater world through this, that you live here in Gävle. You have proved that it works.
Yes, I live here for 20 years. It was always very important to me also when I began as self-employed that I could come back here to Gävle again and again. I made here plays with Peter Oskarson these were very important and still are. These are still the most thrilling Theater projects which I have managed ever. The Gasklockorna are really unique.
However, it also has been very exhausting, my wife had to accept a great responsibility particularly because we don't have any relatives here. It has advantages, seen work technical. If I leave I can work to 100% and, if I am at home, I can forget the work .
Your children are interested in theaters?
Yes, Ida deals with dance and makes an education in Gothenburg now. She has danced since her third year of life. Hanne has made the same education as Ida in Sandviken. She makes the theater line at Vasa school now, however. And Anton has joined in in the "Trollkarlen fran Oz". Theater and hockey are important to him.
How are you with that?
I am very pleased that they try it. But I don't require it. They can make what they would like. But I think one has a use of this that identically one does in the life that one was for the theater.
Was your way to the theater not so directly?
Anyway. It began very early in school even if I didn't think of making it professional at that time. This came later. I continued with amateur theater. It was a hobby. We were a group. But in my opinion there weren't any actors in the family.
An infinitely essential part of my life is music and perhaps I am a little sad that I haven't learned to play any instrument. But I use music in my theater work. To find the Keywords or get inspiration. The music can take me to another world.
Has it to do also with that, that one hears what you say also into the Gasklockorna?
I believe this comes of the work around "Amledo". We have taken the music very importantly at that time. She was almost more important than the meaning. And this led that the whole became much clearer. If one works with the text this way, one meets the load-bearing words. It was full of relish and playful. I have the musicality of an actor, not that one of a musician.
How do you experience your identity with Gävle?
If it goes around the town, I also experience it like many other people. I feel well here it is so simple. It is the place where the family is. In addition, it is also the hometown of Sweden's best hockeyteam. And there are changing seasons. I feel exceptionally well, if I feel the winter.
Do you still long to return to Östersund?
Not as at the beginning.
There isn't well any hockey in Östersund?
I have played in a lower class anyway. Brynäs was a very good team in the 70s. For me they almost were with all their players like the regional champions.
What is it mainly gets the men to feel enthusiastic about a Hockeyteam?
I don't know it. The fight, the speed, but also an uncontrollable thing which is new every time. All teams practice different combinations. And one can compare it with the theater. There also are moments of surprise. But natural not in the same way. Everything can happen in a Hockeymatch. David can defeat the Goliath. But why are men so enthusiastic? Perhaps because we go along so much. I know about me, for that I change.
You think that you stand and yell there?
Exact. Which one be ashamed of mine. Perhaps it is healthy to let everything off and becoming raging, if it doesn't come so as you would like it. One hopes and the chance always is there. It is a contrast to the male where everything must be under control. For me is Brynäs also one part of my identification with Gävle.
You are also a member of this committee which shall organize a new Hockeyarena for Gävle?
Yes, I will do my part. It is natural that we need an arena particularly if one see as other Clubs are making it. I am for Alderholmen, a part of the town which should grow, a fantastic unused place. However, it is the main thing that we get a new arena.
Do you have a relation to the sea?
Not at all. I am a native. Even though the Fjälls has a similarity with the sea, the infinite. However, it is a mystery to me, why it in Gävle neither a fishmonger's nor a fish restaurant gives.
How do you deal with to be prominent in a little town?
This is nothing special here. In addition, people have got used to this after 20 years. I know when I must leave a place and on the city center party one can remain only a couple of hours. It is like it is. A meeting with the people who have seen film and TV can only happen on the street. In the theater one meets directly. It disturbs me, that one will be reduced on his Popularity. It makes no fun.
The success connected, that one is recognized by everybody in your profession.
Yes, one leads which on the other hand. Both belongs together. And made also new opportunities for work. It's negative that one destined for a specialist for humaneness for example,if one has played such a role once. And one becomes toys for the media. One gets an entertainment value in which I am not interested.
You think about the award for the most desirable man of Sweden?
Yes, something like that. Different voting lists. And then they want to put people on a tail coat. However, the life isn't so simple.
Do you still have a house in Skåne?
Yes, we still pound. It is a very simple house, a vacation home. The area is pleasant besides Österlen, in the proximity of Ystad.
There the shooting of the Wallander Films take place and German tourists come to walk into his footprints.
Yes, they drive people around in a fire engine. I then wouldn't like to be on the street.
Which relationship do you have to Henning Mankell?
It is good. We have a similar origin, free theater groups. Our meetings happend by Kurt Wallander and are professional. I admire his books and I am happy about the attempt to convert there in the films.
How do you see the future?
I hope that I can combine film and theater furthermore. I like to work with different media. They stimulate each other, which helps me to have the necessary strength and energy. Then there is still the family and I can see another future. She has already changed by the fact that the oldest has moved. It is a situation which one must master like an alarm clock which rings. I would like to become grandpa in a bigger house with enough space, to live together with these one has already shared so much. A place where one can live and eat well.
What do you plan now?
I don't have any definite plans after "Elling" today. However, I dream of Shakespeare but I don't tell which play is in my mind. There also are conversations about "Krilon" with Peter Oskarson and the 7. Wallander-book. "Tre solar" the latest film of Rickard Hobert has premiere in February. There I play a barber in the Middle Ages.
What do intellectual things mean for you?
A human need of quiet and relaxation. See himself from different prospects of nature and of art. It is the little of its own in proportion to the nature and the art and first of all to the music. Intellectual moments are moments of thinking, they are as one healing process.
What does your God look like?
I cannot say this. It is somebody who one gives me strength and fills the life cup. Also, that one feels as a part of a little great. It is thrilling to be in this counterpart. Gives one enthusiasm for the little people. In the last part of "Sagen om ringen" there was a moment which impressed me very much. This was as the little was increased.
Once you wanted to become a priest?
Yes, this was one of the professional wishes. Perhaps because there were the legends and the mystical. This has me filled with enthusiasm. It disappeared quick after the confirmation, this was fast to boring. But to see himself as a small part of the whole is thrilling. There are both, mourning and joy, hand into hand.
The fight of the bad against the good?
Do you participate in the politics?
No, I try to be a political man, however. This is a part of my work. It was impressive as we made "Orestien" and the bombs fell over Afghanistan. The text of the old Greek Drama matched exactly with revenge and retribution at our time. I wonder why the desire for peace sounds only like a well-worn saying. But we have a world police, which doesn't want to see that we have to deal with the problems of the third world and their living conditions. We self are making a hotbed for Terrorism. It will still remain if we don't solve the actual problems.
This was serious now; what is joy for you?
The great source of the joy is the moment of creating, if one means to have found something in the figure, in the person. This has similarity with playing but it is very beautiful. Also there is one certain of spirituality. The joy and the game, the serious playground. I think, the theater helps us to live.
Five thoughts to the topic......
Fantastically good and unique director. An unbelievably good buddy and friend.
I feel melancholy straight. I was at his last mass on Christmas. Unique priest and man. He is fantastic. He is the type of man one carries on with himself. I see my children who has been at Brynäs, at his Christmas celebrations. He is the balance between high and low.
Tapping heart. At success and defeat.
Good to see himself again. We haven't met us since we have been in the theater school in Malmö. He was in the 1st class and me in the 3rd. Now we are playing "Elling" together.