EVIL TO THE MAX | EW.com

Movies

EVIL TO THE MAX

VON SYDOW PLAYS SATAN

Some religious sects believe that God and the devil both reside in all of us. Take Max von Sydow: In Needful Things, the famed Swedish-born actor plays Satan as a small-town shopkeeper-28 years after he was Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told. How did the 180-degree switch come about? ”Because I’m a foreigner, I’m offered the foreigner in the story,” says Von Sydow. ”Frequently the foreigner is villainous. But I don’t mind, if the villain is interesting.” To play the Ultimate Villain, he says, ”you have to invent the logic and the reality of this particular character.” Von Sydow’s tips on how to give good evil:

1. Be unfailingly pleasant. ”If they see the devil with horns and claws and fangs, they will put up their defenses. But if he’s nice, they will go along with him, they will open up, and they will not defend themselves because they won’t feel threatened.”

2. Manipulate, manipulate, manipulate. ”He blackmails nice, ordinary people, or he tempts them with all his little, wonderful things. Once they agree to do ; him a favor, suddenly they realize, ‘What did I do? Was it really that innocent?’ Then they are hooked – he can make them dance along to his music.”

3. Exploit people’s appetites. ”If they feel attraction to someone or to good food or good wine or whatever, the devil should encourage that, and then make them pay later.”