Norwegian actress and director Liv Ullmann has already won several Oscars. In the late 1970s, she announced on stage that Peter Finch of the Television Company would receive one posthumously. She was later present when actor Marlon Brando sent Indian activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, to the Oscars.
Now, when eighty-three-year-old Ullmann heard someone from the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was trying to contact her, she assumed she should just hand over another Oscar. . Instead, they congratulated her on her first statuette.
According to the AP, Ullmann, along with comedian Elaine May and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Danny Glover, took over the honorary statue from the academy over the weekend. The jury rewarded her for “the bravery and transparent emotions”, thanks to which the public identified with her characters: most often mentally broken down, fragile and wounded women, but also subtly cruel or hurtful.
“When David Rubin from the academy called me, I felt like he gave me the Oscar on the phone call. He gave me so much praise. I hung up and I I said, Liv, you have such a handle,” says the actress, who now spends part of the year on the Florida island of Key Largo.
Ullmann has been nominated twice for the Oscars: first for the film Emigrants, directed by Jan Troell in 1971 and alongside Max von Sydow, and for the second time five years later for Face to Face by director Ingmar Bergman. In this film, she plays with her then twelve-year-old daughter, whom she had with Bergman. However, the American Academy has not yet appreciated it.
Liv Ullmann was born in 1938 in Tokyo, Japan, where her father, a Norwegian aeronautical engineer, was working at the time. My grandfather, who helped Jews escape the Nazis, died in a concentration camp.
During the war, the family moved to Canada and later to New York, where the father died when the daughter was six years old. “He left me with no specific memories. Just a great longing. Which stayed so deep inside me that many of my experiences still resonate with him. My father’s void became a kind of cavity into which later experiences have been stored,” Ullmann later recalled. .
She eventually returned to Norway, where her mother opened a bookstore. The future actress grew up surrounded by books.
In the 1950s, she first gained attention for her performances in the theatrical production of Anne Frank’s Diary and then in Henrik Ibsen’s Doll’s House, sometimes called Nora. As a result, she was noticed by the Norwegian director Edith Carlmar who, in 1959, offered Ullmann the role of a girl with a dubious past in a film called Ung flukt.
“I was innocent and shy for an hour at the time. The director asked me: you’re still a virgin, aren’t you? And she gave me the role anyway.”, recalls Ullmann .
Liv Ullmann is famous for her movie Persona, where she starred alongside Bibi Andersson. | Video: film extracts
Her most famous era began in 1966, when she was cast in the psychological drama Persona by classic Swedish director and cinematographer Ingmar Bergman. “I met for the first time a director who let me reveal feelings and thoughts that no one else recognized. A director who listened to me patiently and understood what I was trying to express” , she said later.
The Persona script about the actress’ mysterious relationship with the nurse was written by Bergman after a single meeting with Ullmann and the second lead actress, Bibi Andersson, whom he already knew well. Ullmann utters a phrase all over the screen – she plays a woman who has lost the ability or desire to speak.
It was shot in a deserted seaside house on the island of Farö, where the director lived. He had an affair with both actresses at different times. “He built a house on Farö. After Persona. He even built a wall around it so no one could see us. I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere, just to visit my parents a few times. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t protest at that time,” Ullmann recalled later.
Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman during the filming of Persona, 1960s. | Photo: AB Svensk Filmindustri
Today, she says Bergman wrote his character in Persona a lot based on his own experience as a man trying to escape his public mask, or rather the role others give him. “I feel like Bergman often spoke through my mouth. But we didn’t talk about it much,” notes Ullmann, who described her relationship with the director in Transformations. “We entered each other’s lives too soon and too late,” she writes, for example. She also spoke about Bergman in later published interviews with journalist Ketil Bjornstad.
Liv Ullmann eventually starred in ten of Bergman’s films, including Hour of the Wolves, Whispers and Screams, Scenes from Married Life and Autumn Sonatas. Their daughter, Linn, now a 55-year-old cultural journalist, was born. And according to Bergman’s screenplays, Liv Ullmann herself directed the films Private Confession and Infidelity.
“When they first offered me if I didn’t want to try directing, I called Ingmar first. I said to him, ‘They’re offering me to direct, do you think I got it? And he said, “Of course you will, Liv,” he looks back.
At the same time, she always confessed that it was difficult for her to cross the camera. “I was an actress, which is not good. I was a woman: it’s not good either. I was in my fifties. It’s not good at all,” he said. she confided to the weekly Reflex. She last directed eight years ago when she directed an adaptation of Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, starring Hollywood stars Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell.
Over time, he became particularly interested in Jan Troell’s films called Emigrants and the New Land, made in the early 1970s. They took place in the middle of the 19th century and told the story of a Swedish family who emigrated to America. “I always wanted to have a man, but I had more. I always wanted more children, but I have one. That’s why it’s good to play. It will allow you to live a life that you didn’t have,” he says today.
In Scenes from Married Life, Liv Ullmann starred alongside Erland Josephson. | Photo: Radio Sweden
Today, Liv Ullmann lives only in the United States, alternately in Florida and Massachusetts with her husband. Nevertheless, she emphasizes that her home will always be Norway. Her grandson accompanied her to the Oscars weekend. She will travel from Los Angeles to London, where the British Film Institute organizes a monthly retrospective of her works.
She probably won’t shoot again, she believes. “I would like to direct again, but it’s not easy. I admire Jane Campion, who certainly directs films, but in order to be able to do it, you have to be strong and young. I’m strong, but I’m old” , he notes. “Maybe I will act in a movie,” he added to the AP.
The Czechs may also know Liv Ullmann. She first came here in 1965 alongside actress Bibi Andersson. However, they only stayed for a few days, during which they mostly watched movies from new wave creators. In 2005, Ullmannová was a guest at the Karlovy Vary festival, and on this occasion she also spoke on the show Na plovárně by moderator Marek Eben.