The story of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an adaptation of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel which tells the story of a young child that is attempting to come to terms with the loss of his dad in the 9-11 tragedy of the United States. The boy in the film is played by Thomas Horn and the father is played in a series of flashbacks by Tom Hanks. Added to the film is the role of a mute neighbour played by Max Von Sydow that was added just to the screenplay.
Sydow stated that he liked the idea behind the true non-speaking role in the film and had admired the previous films put out by Stephen Daldry including ‘The Hours’ and ‘Billy Elliot.’ He also stated that working with Horn who had no previous acting experience but a lot of humor and intelligence was great, because he was always professional even when most children might struggle.
The fact that Sydow called Horn a professional should not be sidestepped given the fact that he has been in film for over sixty years and held plenty of iconic roles making his opinion one worth noting.
Sydow has held a number or roles that range from Jesus in the film ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ to a title character in ‘The Exorcist’ to the boss of Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’ and plenty of other unique roles. However, according to the actor the hardest role he ever took on was Jesus, but not because of the complexities of such a role, but instead because it was his first film in America and he was just learning to speak English. He also noted that he wanted to show more of the humanity of Jesus and he did not feel like the film captured that.
The Swiss actor said that usually it is pretty easy to decide which roles to take on because the only thing that pries him out of his home in Paris are roles that are different from what he has done before.
He explains that he requires all roles to be different and given the fact that he has played everything from the devil to Jesus this is not something that is all that easy. Daldry, the director of ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ is also someone that Sydow likes to work with because he is intelligent and is great with the way he handles his actors.
Despite his long career in film, Sydow has only been nominated once for an Oscar and he is low key about the idea of possible receiving a nod for his newest role as a mute stating that it would be wonderful to take one home but he has not seen other contenders and is not sure how much competition he would have. For now he is happy to be home when not working waiting for the next brig role to come along his way.
Short featurette Von Sydow on Extremely loud