Oscar Actors: Von Sydow, Max–Extremely Loud and Incredibly Loud

Max von Sydow was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in this film, directed by Stephen Daldry.

Though Oskar often confides in his grandmother, he cannot risk telling her about his mission to find the lock that matches his father’s key.  But one night when he seeks her counsel, he instead meets up with the enigmatic, silent man known only as “The Renter,” who is a boarder in her apartment.

Venerated actor Max von Sydow plays the mysterious old man who can communicate only via scrawls on a notepad yet becomes Oskar’s only confidante on his quest.

Von Sydow, whose prodigious film career began in the 1950s with Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal,” and continued through ten more films with Bergman and six decades of memorable and award-winning roles, had a strong emotional reaction to the story of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

“I was extremely moved by the script, which doesn’t happen often,” von Sydow states.  “And I liked the idea of playing this enigmatic figure, this apparent stranger who tries to help Oskar in his search.  It really is an interesting friendship that develops between them.”

The character remains mute throughout the movie, so the actor strove to express his moments of anguish, curiosity and delight entirely through his face and body.  Says Daldry of the unusual, wordless performance: “Max turned in a performance unlike any other he’s done — and I think it’s the kind of performance he’s always wanted to do.  I honestly believe he’s created one of the most extraordinary characters of his career; he’s profoundly nuanced, complicated, funny and sensitive . . . without uttering a sound.”