Erland Josephson
Credit: Everett Collecton

Swedish actor Erland Josephson, who collaborated with legendary film director Ingmar Bergman in more than 40 films and plays, has died. He was 88. The award-winning actor died at a Stockholm hospital on Saturday following a long battle against Parkinson’s disease, said Royal Dramatic Theatre spokeswoman Christina Bjerkander.

Josephson was born into a family of artists and culture workers in Stockholm in 1923 and would become the actor who had the longest-running collaboration with Bergman. The two first met when Josephson was just 16 and participated as an amateur actor in the play The Merchant of Venice, directed by Bergman. Although he never had any formal acting education, Josephson continued to appear in several Bergman stage plays in the 1940s and 50s, and received a minor part in 1946 film It Rains on Our Love. In the late 50s he played larger roles in Bergman’s films The Magician and Brink of Life, but first shot to international stardom with the role of Johan in Scenes from a Marriage, in 1973.

After that, he received offers to appear in many international film productions and played Friedrich Nietzsche in Italian director Liliana Cavani’s 1977 Beyond Good and Evil. Josephson appeared in Philip Kaufman’s 1988 The Unbearable Lightness of Being and made memorable performances in Andrey Tarkovskiy’s 1980s films Nostalghia and The Sacrifice.

The actor won several Swedish film prizes and received an honorary award at the Rimini film festival in 1986. Two years later, he received the Off-Broadway Theater Award for best performance for his role as Gajev in Peter Brooks New York production of Cherry Farm.

Josephson also published many novels and autobiographical books, two poetry collections and around 40 scripts for stage, radio and television. He served as head of Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theatre between 1966 and 1975, and was director of the Swedish Film Institute in the 1990s.

Josephson is survived by his wife Ulla Aberg and five children. Funeral arrangements weren’t immediately known.