Drawing: Liv Ullmann on Broadway

Liv Ullmann

“Liv Ullmann is seventy five and flourishing” wrote David Thomson in his interview intro for The New Republic with the Norwegian actress, now celebrated director, discussing her latest project, a film adaption of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie with Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell, which premiered at last year’s Toronto Film Festival.

“She’s not the oldest director with a film screening in the Festival, but she is the best preserved, the most dignified, an icon with clout” said Catherine Shoard in The Guardian.

Liv began her career as a stage actress in Norway during the mid 1950s before becoming the ‘leading lady of Scandi cinema, former muse and partner of Swedish screen supremo Ingmar Bergman, appearing in ten of his most admired films, including The Emigrants and Face to Face, for which she was Oscar nominated.

Bergman’s films with inspirational cinematographer Sven Nykvist are amongst my favourite, especially Cries and Whispers, featuring Liv. She made her Broadway debut in 1975’s production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, followed by Anna Christie, Ghosts and I Remember Mama during the rest of the decade.

Renowned for her expressive face, ideal for drawing, especially in the theatre, I did this montage of Liv from I Remember Mama and Anna Christie with John Lithgow.

Liv was in London this month to do a Q&A after a screening of Miss Julie at the Mayfair Curzon and I really wanted to meet her in person to sign the sketch, but was unable to. I dropped it off to her London agent in a hope she might still be in town. It arrived back in the mail yesterday, from the US, a welcomed and well travelled work of art.

Drawing: Ruth Wilson and Jude Law in Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse

Jude Law Ruth Wilson

Eugene O’Neill’s epic Pulitzer Award-winning play Anna Christie, about love and forgiveness charts one woman’s longing to forget the dark secrets of her past as she is reunited with her father, an old Scandinavian salt who had exiled her fifteen years earlier.

Winner of the Olivier Award for Best Revival, Rob Ashford’s nautically realistic production played London’s Donmar Warehouse in the late summer of 2011 with Jude Law and Ruth Wilson in the lead roles.

Michael Billington in his Guardian review said, “The acting matches the production’s visual power. Ruth Wilson, following in the footsteps of Greta Garbo on screen and Natasha Richardson on stage… capturing with seeming effortlessness the contradiction inside Anna. Law, in the best performance I’ve seen him give is also excellent as the brawny lover… conveys muscular innocence of a man who has a rolling nautical gait… ”

Both Jude and Ruth were nominated for Oliviers with Ruth winning her second, having previously picked up the award for Best Supporting Actress as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire also at the Donmar. This black biro sketch as based on rehearsal shots for the play which Ruth and Jude kindly signed for me.

Drawing: Ruth Wilson

Ruth Wilson

Ruth Wilson is a two time Olivier Award winner. In 2010 she picked up the first – a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as Stella in The Donmar Warehouse’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Rachel Weisz, who also won the Best Actress category – followed by the 2012 Olivier for Best Actress as the title character in Anna Christie, also at the Donmar, opposite Jude Law.  She was also nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Mini Series for her role in Jane Eyre. Ruth kindly signed this quick portrait study at the Donmar during the 2011 Anna Christie season.

Drawing: Jude Law and Mat Burke in Anna Christie

Jude Law001

Jude Law signed this portrait on his way to an evening performance at the Donmar Warehouse in August 2011. He was the big draw in this outstanding revival of Eugene O’Neill’s play Anna Christie, playing the role of the hulking seadog hero Mat Burke.

Jude’s fine ear for the salty vernacular of the New York waterfront in the twenties earned him an Olivier Award nomination and five stars from all the major critics.