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|Also Known As:||Liv Johanne Ullman||Died:|
|Born:||December 16, 1939||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Japan||Profession:||actor, director, writer|
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Possessing one of the most expressive faces in cinema history, Liv Ullmann will forever be associated with the work of her mentor Ingmar Bergman. She was his muse, his female alter ego inspiring him to look deeply into himself. More than any other Bergman actress, she embodied his core themes of anguish, loss and failure, and the nine films they made over 12 years represent the director at his peak, exploring his most private concerns. Throughout their collaboration, Bergman photographed Ullmann extensively in close-up, trusting her honesty completely, and the camera's proximity never intimidated the superb parade of emotions emanating from her luminous blue eyes and softly rounded features. Their professional life survived the dissolution of their private life, and years after she played her last role for him, Bergman asked her to interpret his autobiographical screenplay "Private Confessions" (1997) and allowed her to put her personal stamp on it as director, adding a new dynamic to their artistic relationship.Born to Norwegian parents in Japan, Ullmann moved from Tokyo to Toronto, Canada at the outbreak of World War II and then to Norway following her father's death. She acquired eight months of...
Possessing one of the most expressive faces in cinema history, Liv Ullmann will forever be associated with the work of her mentor Ingmar Bergman. She was his muse, his female alter ego inspiring him to look deeply into himself. More than any other Bergman actress, she embodied his core themes of anguish, loss and failure, and the nine films they made over 12 years represent the director at his peak, exploring his most private concerns. Throughout their collaboration, Bergman photographed Ullmann extensively in close-up, trusting her honesty completely, and the camera's proximity never intimidated the superb parade of emotions emanating from her luminous blue eyes and softly rounded features. Their professional life survived the dissolution of their private life, and years after she played her last role for him, Bergman asked her to interpret his autobiographical screenplay "Private Confessions" (1997) and allowed her to put her personal stamp on it as director, adding a new dynamic to their artistic relationship.
Born to Norwegian parents in Japan, Ullmann moved from Tokyo to Toronto, Canada at the outbreak of World War II and then to Norway following her father's death. She acquired eight months of acting training in London prior to making her stage debut in a Norwegian production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1957) and also appeared in her first film ("Fools in the Mountains") that year. She followed her success in the provinces with success in the capital city of Oslo, becoming a member of the Norwegian National Theatre Company, and continued acting in Norwegian films until Bergman introduced her to a wider audience in "Persona" (1966), the director's landmark take on reality versus art and the larger issues of life and death. Chosen for her remarkable resemblance to co-star Bibi Andersson, Ullmann played an actress whose breakdown has made her mute, and Andersson was the voluble nurse trying to coax her to speak again. Without words, she relied solely on facial and body gestures to tell her tale of alienation, and the lack of text was far from limiting as her questioning, sometimes impenetrable looks poignantly projected her traumatized rejection of the world. And yet . . . her silence becomes a form of power. In the movie's most famous shot, the women's faces fuse into one, symbolizing Andersson's incorporation into the now stronger Ullmann.
While mentor and muse fought their demons as best they could, their art flourished with "Hour of the Wolf" (her first film with actors Max von Sydow and Erland Josephson) and "Shame" (both 1968) and "The Passion of Anna" (1970). The collaboration continued long after the actress had packed up and returned to Norway with their child, perhaps reaching its fullest flowering in "Scenes From a Marriage" (1973), a passionate, probing look into the disintegration of a marriage and the relationship that follows. Ullmann and Josephson were outstanding as the couple in this intimate, often painful slice of art imitating life, originally made as six 50-minute TV episodes and edited into feature-length by writer-director Bergman. She also enjoyed great success during this period in two films directed by Jan Troell, "The Emigrants" (1971) and its sequel "The New Land" (1973), earning the first of two Best Actress Oscar nominations for the former. The films told the tale of Ullmann, husband von Sydow and fellow Swedes who fled their famine-ravaged homeland in the mid-1800s to try their luck in America. She and von Sydow would return to the same era later for "The Ox" (1991), the directorial debut of longtime Bergman cinematographer Sven Nykvist, only this time portraying the plight of those who stayed behind.
Ullmann earned her second Best Actress Academy Award nomination for Bergman's "Face to Face" (1976), but their association was winding down. Only "The Serpent's Egg" (1977) and "Autumn Sonata" (1978) remained, although she has expressed regret at not acting in his swan song "Fanny and Alexander" (1983), her refusal angering him greatly at the time. By then, she had made her Broadway debut in "A Doll's House" (1975) and returned to the Great White Way as Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" in 1977, a part fellow Scandinavian Greta Garbo had played in the 1930 film. Later that year, she also published the first installment of her autobiography, "Changes," and was the subject of a documentary ("A Look at Liv"). At the height of her worldwide popularity, she even made her Broadway musical debut in the Richard Rodgers-Martin Charnin adaptation of "I Remember Mama" (1979), an experience that perhaps eased the embarrassment of warbling Bacharach-David in her disastrous American feature debut, the 1973 musical remake of "Lost Horizon." In 1980, she began her long-standing association with UNICEF as its goodwill ambassador and two years later was back on Broadway as Mrs. Alving in Ibsen's "Ghosts."
Ullmann made a smooth transition to middle-aged roles, and two of her more notable films of the 80s were "Gaby--A True Story" (1987, as the wealthy mother of a girl who becomes a celebrated writer despite her severe cerebral palsy) and "The Rose Garden" (1989, defending Maximillian Schell against charges of having been a Nazi). She also began a second career as a director and screenwriter with the "Parting" segment of the anthology feature "Love" (1981) and in the 90s devoted increasing time to this new passion, starting with her feature debut, "Sofie" (1992), the story of a young Jew in 19th Century Copenhagen. She enlisted Nykvist as her cameraman for her sophomore effort, "Kristin Lavransdatter" (1995), an adaptation of Sigrid Undset's epic novel of 14th Century Norway, and had him back on board for "Private Confessions" (1997). Though her filmmaking style owes much to Bergman (she too favors the close-up), "Private Confessions" (despite being shot by Nykvist) does not especially look like a Bergman film. Screenwriter and director argued over a few things in the rough cut, but in the end he embraced her choices, which included playing up the religious angle a bit more than he might have. Obviously their reteaming was tonic for both, and Ullmann embarked on her second interpretation of Bergman at the helm of his autobiographical "Faithless" (2000).
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CAST: (feature film)
Milestones close milestones
Took a year off from acting to tour Europe as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (1980-81)
Received the Dag Hammarskjold award (1986)
Presented the Order of St. Olav (also known as the Peer Gynt Award) by the King of Norway
Ullmann served as president of the jury at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival (stepping in for a previously announced Jodie Foster who withdrew over scheduling conflicts).
"I prefer acting on stage. If you're surrounded by good people and have a wonderful set and good lighting and a director who really has a vision, then I prefer the stage. But, so often this is not so and you are carrying the load of, maybe, some actors who are going in another direction, a director who didn't do his homework and a set that you can't act on. And I'm getting more and more impatient with that! First of all, I work very badly in these surroundings. I'm not challenged by them and I feel I can't waste my time anymore. With film, even though you're not in control because they can cut you out and they can use ghastly light and so on, at least you know the moment the camera is on you. Then you can give whatever you have and you can give it to that camera--which is your audience--and in a way, you are more in charge. And if it's a bad thing, you don't have to repeat the performance every day as you have to on stage." --Liv Ullmann, from interview with John Weitz
About her feature debut in Bergman's "Persona": "Luckily, the part he gave me was a silent person. I was Norwegian, I couldn't even have tried to speak Swedish, I was probably too scared to talk at all. But I did recognize him somehow, and I knew that I was him. That was my great understanding at 25. I didn't really understand my part, because I was playing someone 40 years old. But I knew I was Ingmar, and my instinct explained it for me." --Liv Ullmann quoted in THE NEW YORK TIMES, January 3, 1999
On her relationship with Bergman: "We were walking on this stony beach and he said, 'I have to tell you, this night I had a dream we were painfully connected.' You know, I more or less fell in love with that. I mean, Ingmar Bergman is painfully connected to me?"
"Well, I regretted it and went back to Norway, and he came to Norway and got me back to Sweden. And then I became pregnant, and I left him again. Then he asked me to come back; he had written a film for a pregnant woman. So I went back, and that was 'Hour of the Wolf'. We never married. I moved to Faro, where I lived for five years. It was there we did 'Shame', and then 'The Passion of Anna', but that was toward the end. And then it was over, that part, and I took my child and went back to Norway." -- Ullmann to THE NEW YORK TIMES, January 3, 1999
She is currently honorary chair of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children. "We work only for women and children because so many of the laws are written by men and for men. We have visited refugee camps, written books, articles, speeches--and really changed laws." Atlantic Monthly Press has just put out "Letter to My Grandchild", edited by Ullmann, in which more than 30 prominent world figures contribute letters to real or imagined grandchildren expressing their hope for the future. --From TIME OUT NEW YORK, January 7-14, 1999
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