Family & Companions
Stage-trained Swedish actress Pernilla August (nee Wallgren) is the latest heir to the tradition of radiant actresses (i.e., Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Eva Dahlbeck and Harriet Andersson) immortalized on screen by Ingmar Bergman. Her first association with the master came playing the nursemaid-mistress of a restaurateur in his feature directing swan song, "Fanny and Alexander" (1982). Subsequently, the attractive brunette portrayed Ophelia in "Hamlet" (1986) and Nora in "A Doll's House" (1989) in Bergman-directed stage productions at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre. Despite his official retirement from directing, Bergman continued providing Scandinavian filmmakers with potent screenplays of a personal nature, writing the part of Anna (based on his mother) in "Best Intentions" (1991) expressly for her and entrusting it to Danish helmsman Bille August. In the role, she displayed a Himalayan emotional range, ripening from a spoiled kittenish 18-year-old to a life-hardened, resolute woman, and won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award as well as the heart of her director. Divorced from screenwriter Klas Ostergren, she married August during a break in filming in 1991.
Determined to be an actress at an early age, August experienced an epiphany on stage while dabbling in theater at a Stockholm drama school for children: "They are listening to me. And I have something to tell them." After working several years with Swedish Television's theatrical ensemble, she appeared in stage productions under such directors as Peter Oskarson ("A Dream Play"), Yuri Ljubimov ("Feast in the Time of the Plague") and Lennart Hjulstrom ("Master Olof"), in addition to her work with Bergman. Further collaborating with second husband Bille August (they divorced in 1997), she portrayed one of the deeply-realized characters of his earnest "Jerusalem" (1996), based on Selma Lagerlof's novel inspired by the real-life story of Swedish-American revivalist movement leader Olof Henrik Larsson, who led a group of 40 followers to Palestine at the end of the 19th Century. She again embodied Bergman's mother for his 1996 semi-autobiographical Swedish telefilm "In the Presence of a Clown" and revisited the complex, contradictory emotional world of Anna Bergman in "Private Confessions" (1997), helmed by Liv Ullmann. In 1998. the actress acted in "The Glassblower's Children" and "The Last Contract," the first feature to deal with the still-unsolved murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palma. August then made her American film debut in what will undoubtedly become one of her more famous roles, that of Shmi Skywalker, the mother of the future Darth Vader, in George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999).
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Began dabbling in theater at a Stockholm drama school for children at the age of ten (date approximate)
Portrayed the dizzy, sexually generous nursemaid in Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander"
Had featured role in "Agget", directed by Daniel Bergman (Ingmar's son)
Ingmar Bergman wrote part of Anna (based on his mother) in "Best Intentions" expressly for her; met director Billie August during pre-production; married during a break in filming; miniseries version broadcast as part of PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" in August 1994
Returned to the stage in Royal Dramatic Theatre production of "The Winter's Tale"
Reprised her role as Anna in Liv Ullmann's "Private Confessions", scripted by Bergman
Reteamed with writer-director Bergman for "In the Presence of a Clown"; again played character based on Bergman's mother in this semi-autobiographical film made for Swedish television
Cast as Mary in the NBC biblical drama "Mary, Mother of Jesus"
Played Shmi Skywalker, mother of Annakin (the future Darth Vader), in George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace"
Had leading role in the Swedish film "Gossip"