Olin, Lena 1955–
Olin, Lena 1955–
Full name, Lena Maria Jonna Olin; born March 22, 1955, in Stockholm, Sweden; immigrated to the United States, 1995; daughter of Stig (an actor and director) and Britta Alice (an actress; maiden name, Holmberg) Olin; sister of Mats Olin (a singer); married Lasse Hall-stroem (a director, producer, writer, and editor), March 18, 1994; children: (with actor Oerjan Ramberg) August; (with Hallstroem) Tora. Education: Attended National Theatre Academy, Stockholm, Sweden, 1976–79; graduated from Royal Dramatic Theatre School, Stockholm.
Addresses: Agent—Adam Isaacs, Endeavor, 9601 Wilshire Blvd., 6th Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
Career: Actress. Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm, Sweden, member of company, 1980–94; recording artist, with singles released in Sweden, 1970s. Cannes International Film Festival, member of jury, 1998. Worked as a substitute language teacher and as a hospital aide.
Awards, Honors: Ingmar Bergman Award, Guldbagge Awards, 1980; Golden Globe Award nomination, best supporting actress in a motion picture, 1989, for The Unbearable Lightness of Being; New York Film Critics Circle Award, 1989, and Academy Award nomination, 1990, both best supporting actress, for Enemies, a Love Story; MTV Movie Award nomination, best action sequence, 1994, for Romeo Is Bleeding; Film Award nomination, best supporting actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination (with others), outstanding cast performance in a theatrical motion picture, and Audience Award nomination, best actress, European Film Awards, all 2001, for Chocolat; Emmy Award nomination, best supporting actress in a drama series, 2003, and Golden Satellite Award nominations, outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, International Press Academy, 2003, 2004, Teen Choice Award nomination (with Victor Garber and Ron Rifkin), choice television parental units, 2005, all for Alias.
Shop assistant, Ansikte mot ansikte (also known as Face to Face), Cinematograph, 1976.
Girl, Tabu (also known as Taboo), Swedish Film Institute, 1977.
Dolores, Picassos aeventyr (also known as The Adventures of Picasso), Svensk Filmindustri, 1978.
Lena, Kaerleken (also known as Love), Europa Film, 1980.
Nina, Graesaenklingar (also known as One-Week Bachelors), Europa Film, 1982.
Rosa, Fanny and Alexander (also known as Fanny et Alexandre, Fanny och Alexander, and Fanny und Alexander), Embassy, 1983.
Karin, Flucht in den norden (released in the United States as Flight North; also known as Pako pohjoi-seen), Cine-International, 1986.
Nadja Melander, Paa liv och doed (also known as A Matter of Life and Death), Ariane Filmproduktion, 1986.
Sabina, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Orion, 1988.
Sue, Friends, Swedish Film Institute, 1988.
Masha, Enemies, a Love Story, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1989.
Annika Larsson, S/Y glaedjen (also known as S/Y Joy), Swedish Film Institute, 1989.
Bobby Duran, Havana, Universal, 1990.
Mona Demarkov, Romeo Is Bleeding, Gramercy, 1993.
Dr. Elizabeth "Libbie" Bowen, Mr. Jones, Columbia/TriStar, 1993.
The Marquise, Night and the Moment (also known as La notte e il momento and La nuit et le moment), Buena Vista Home Video, 1994.
Herself, Lumiere et compagnie (also known as Lumiere and Company and Lumiere y compania), Alta Films, 1995.
The Golden Hour, 1996.
Peggy Lindstrom, Night Falls on Manhattan, Paramount, 1997.
Tessie, Hamilton, Buena Vista, 1998.
Jadzia Pzoniak, Polish Wedding, Fox Searchlight, 1998.
Liana Telfer, The Ninth Gate (also known as La neuvieme porte and La novena puerta), Artisan Entertainment, 1999.
Dr. Annabel Leek, Mystery Men, Universal, 1999.
Josephine Muscat, Chocolat, Miramax, 2000.
Faith Mattis (some sources cite Faith Matheson), Ignition (also known as Mise a feu), Saturn Home Entertainment, 2001.
Maharet, Queen of the Damned (also known as Anne Rice's "Queen of the Damned"), Warner Bros., 2002.
Maria, Darkness (also known as The Dark), 2002, Dimension Films, 2004.
Ruby, Hollywood Homicide, Columbia, 2003.
Marybeth Fitzgerald, The United States of Leland, Paramount Classics, 2004.
Andrea, Casanova, Buena Vista, 2005.
Nina, Bang Bang Orangutang, Sonet Film, 2005.
Kathryn Vale, Devil You Know, Roger Films, 2006.
Awake, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2006.
Television Appearances; Series:
Irina Derevko, Alias, ABC, 2002–2003, 2005, 2006.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 2001.
Corazon de …, 2005.
(In archive footage) Cinema mil, 2005.
Appeared in "The Films of Philip Kaufman," an episode of The Directors, Encore.
Television Appearances; Other:
Gypsy woman, Friaren som inte ville gifta sig, 1977.
Som ni behagar (also known as As You Like It), 1982.
The older Anna Egerman, After the Rehearsal (also known as Efter repetitionen), 1984.
Marta, Wallenberg: A Hero's Story (miniseries), NBC, 1985.
Lady with a dog, Glasmaestarna, 1986.
Ann, Komedianter, 1987.
The 62nd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1990.
Lena, Hebriana, 1990.
Herself, Hamilton bakom kulisserna, 1998.
(Uncredited) The Marquise (in archive footage), Premio Donostia a Willem Dafoe, 2005.
Pliant and Drugger, Alkemisten, Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm, Sweden, 1980.
Egle, Paradisbarnen, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1981.
Smaatt och stort (also known as Big and Little), Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1982.
Clarice de Bisognosi, Tvaa herrars tjaenare (also known as The Servant of Two masters and Il servitore di due padroni), Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1982.
Mary, Juno och paafaageln (also known as Juno and the Paycock), Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1982.
Rose, Chikanen, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1983.
Cordelia, King Lear, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1984.
Ej blot till lyst, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1985.
Charlotte, Nattvarden (also known as The Last Supper), Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1985.
Agnes, A Dreamplay, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1986.
Ann, Summer, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1986.
Margarita, The Master and Margarita, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1988.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Royal Dramatic Theatre, 1990.
Julie, Miss Julie, Royal Dramatic Theatre, then Majestic Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY, both 1991.
Also appeared in Restoration.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, 4th edition, St. James Press, 2000.
Newsmakers 1991, Gale, 1991.
Entertainment Weekly, February 11, 1994, pp. 32-33; June 14, 2002, p. 80.
Good Housekeeping, August, 2003, p. 74.
Interview, January, 1991, p. 116.
Playboy, February, 1991, p. 112.
Premiere, January, 1991, p. 70.
Sly, January, 2006, pp. 54-63.
TV Guide, September 21, 2002, p. 21; May 15, 2005, pp. 46-47.
Nationality: Swedish. Born: Stockholm, 22 March 1955; daughter of the actor/director Stig Olin and the actress Britta Olin. Education: Attended Royal Dramatic Theater School of Sweden. Family: Married 1) the director Lasse Hallström, 1994, daughter: Tora; 2) the actor Orjan Ramberg, son: August. Career: Began dramatic school at 20, and three years later was employed at the Royal Dramatic Theater; 1976—film debut in Ingmar Bergman's Face to Face; 1984—in Bergman's final directorial project, After the Rehearsal; 1988—established her alliance with passionate characters whose portrayals will pervade her later repertoire with The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Awards: New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, for Enemies, a Love Story, 1989. Agent: Martha Luttrell, International Creative Management, 8899 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048, U.S.A.
Films as Actress:
Ansikte mot Ansikte (Face to Face) (Bergman—for TV, originally broadcast in serial form) (as shop assistant)
Picassos aeventyr (The Adventures of Picasso) (Danielsson) (as Dolores)
Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander) (Bergman) (as Rosa)
Efter Repetitionen (After the Rehearsal) (Bergman) (as Anna Egerman)
Wallenberg: A Hero's Story (Lamont Johnson—for TV)
Flucht in den Norden (Escape to the North) (Engström); Pa Liv Och Dod (A Matter of Life and Death)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kaufman) (as Sabina)
S/Y Glaedjen (S/Y Joy) (Du Rees); Enemies, a Love Story (Mazursky) (as Masha)
Havana (Pollack) (as Bobby Duran)
Romeo Is Bleeding (Medak) (as Mona Demarkov); Mr. Jones (Figgis) (as Dr. Libbie Bowen)
The Night and the Moment (La Nuit et le Moment) (Tato) (as The Marquise)
Night Falls on Manhattan (Lumet) (as Peggy Lindstrom); The Golden Hour (Hallström)
Polish Wedding (Connelly) (as Jadzia Pzoniak); Hamilton (Zwart) (as Tessie)
Mystery Men (Usher) (as Dr. Annabel Leek); The Ninth Gate (Polanski) (as Liana Telfer)
By OLIN: articles—
Interview with Margy Rochlin, in Interview (New York), January 1991.
Interview with David Rensin, in Playboy (Chicago), February 1991.
Interview with Tom Charity, in Time Out (London), 27 April 1994.
On OLIN: articles—
Harper's, January 1986.
American Film, November 1989.
Linfield, Susan, "How Swede She Is," in Rolling Stone (New York), 8 March 1990.
"Hot in Havana," in Fame, November 1990.
MacPherson, Malcolm, "The Thinking Man's Beauty," in Premiere (New York), January 1991.
"Swede Success," in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1991.
New York Times, 20 September 1991.
Hedges, Peter, "Driving Miss Olin," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), March 1993.
"What's Wrong with This Picture?" in Los Angeles Times, 24 October 1993.
Hooper, Joseph, "Love to Kill You," in Esquire (New York), December 1993.
* * *
Born to actor parents, Lena Olin, one of Sweden's leading actresses and a member of Ingmar Bergman's famed company, began her career on stage at the Royal Dramatic Theater where she acted in the classical repertoire, including Shakespeare, August Strindberg, and Anton Chekhov. On stage and in film, Olin has taken on classical and modern roles, but usually plays complicated, ambiguous women, such as the heroines of Strindberg and Lars Noren, a contemporary writer, who, like Strindberg, writes about perplexing Swedish women.
Her acting education in Sweden emphasized the minutiae of physical expression, unlike the education of many American actors who are indoctrinated into Method acting and its preoccupation with emotional states. "In school what was important was not how you felt inside, it was how you showed your feelings with your body and the sound of your voice. It was very practical work," she remarked. She admits this work was at times boring and tedious, but it has given her an unusually broad and precise physical vocabulary and the capacity for displaying contradictory feelings at the same time.
According to Jean Baudrillard, seduction is the process of letting oneself die in reality and become reconstituted in illusion, an idea that lends itself perfectly to Olin's screen persona. Her true nature is shy, and she claims to be embarrassed to walk down the street as herself rather than in a character. Yet she plays nude scenes unabashedly because she feels it is someone else who is bare, not her; she holds that "nudity is just another costume." Her seductiveness is the physical manifestation of fantasy, for herself as well as her audience. Sexuality is made visual and the illusion is unmistakably real. But her characters are more complicated than just being sexual, as they also live in worlds plagued by political upheavals such as Prague Spring, the Holocaust, and the Cuban Revolution. Her seductiveness is the product of courage and remarkable skill.
Following her 1976 film debut in a bit role in Bergman's Face to Face, she appeared in two more Bergman films, Fanny and Alexander, where she has only a minor role as a maid, and the ultracomplex After the Rehearsal, in which she portrays the chastising actress daughter of a womanizing director's (Erland Josephson) old lover. She was later playing Cordelia in a production of King Lear, directed by Bergman, when the executive producer of The Unbearable Lightness of Being spotted her. The resultant striking role of the hedonistic Sabina was her American film debut and earned her numerous other film offers. None interested her, however, until Enemies, a Love Story, where she plays Masha, the Russian concentration camp survivor, who uses physical passion to escape horrible memories and the future that awaits her. The portrayal also earned Olin her first Oscar nomination, as Best Supporting Actress.
To date, Olin has yet to match her successes of the late 1980s. Committed to art rather than celebrity, Olin's opportunities in Hollywood have certainly been limited, evidenced by the consecutive failures of Havana, Romeo Is Bleeding, and Mr. Jones. Her outrageous performance as a sexy Mafia hit woman in the second of these three, however, showed that she will simply need to seek out the right roles (and films) to recapture her earlier success.