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Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, best-known to US audiences for his starring role as Mikael Blomkvist in the original Swedish film version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequels, has passed away after a short illness.

The Stieg Larsson films catapulted him to Hollywood, where he was cast mainly as villains in big-budget blockbusters, opposite Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Keanu Reeves in John Wick.

One of Michael’s earliest TV roles was as police station regular John Banck in the very first season of Beck back in 1997. A small part, it nonetheless gave Michael an opportunity to act alongside his friend Peter Haber, and the two would later reunite on the big screen when Peter played Vanger family CEO Martin Vanger in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

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Michael Nyqvist (right) as John Banck in Beck.

In 2006, Michael played the villainous Lothar in Wallander: Mastermind opposite Krister Henriksson. Released theatrically in Sweden, the film was a big hit and solidified both the Yellow Bird TV series and Krister’s portrayal of Henning Mankell’s iconic detective. It also gave MHz Choice one of its best-ever DVD covers – that’s Lothar’s evil visage leering in the background of Wallander Episodes 4-6!

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Krister Henriksson (left) and Michael Nyqvist (right)
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Michael Nyqvist (top) as Lothar in Wallander: Mastermind

The following year, Michael had a guest star role in arguably the best of the Unni Lindell Mysteries: The Night Sister. In this two-part Norwegian thriller, Michael played Tage Wollter, the Swedish father of a missing girl – and also a possible suspect in her disappearance. Michael’s understated humor comes to the fore in a funny exchange towards the end, which takes place on the 17th of May, Norway’s National Day, an important holiday marked by huge parades. On his way to the festivities, Cato Isaksen (Reidar Sørensen) stops by Wollter’s place and is immediately suspicious to find him at home. “Why aren’t you at the parade?” Cato asks accusingly. Wollter looks at him, puzzled. “I’m Swedish,” he explains. Cato can’t argue that fact! (Later on, they mud wrestle. It all makes sense, just watch it.)

Other notable work included lead roles in Lukas Moodysson’s internationally-acclaimed drama Together and in the Academy Award-nominated As It Is In Heaven. Michael Nyqvist was 56.

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Michael Nyqvist (left) gets down and dirty with Cato Isaksen (Reidar Sørensen) in Unni Lindell.