Liv Ullmann Regrets Turning Down Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Fanny and Alexander’: ‘He Never Forgave Me’

Liv Ullmann is opening up about her career regrets.

The “Persona” actress revealed that she second-guessed turning down Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 family saga “Fanny and Alexander” and that the auteur “never forgave” her for rejecting the script he wrote for her. Ullmann and Bergman collaborated on “Persona,” “Scenes From a Marriage,” and “Cries and Whispers,” among many other films, and also shared a daughter, Linn Ullmann. He died in 2007.

Ewa Fröling was instead cast in the “Fanny and Alexander” role Bergman wrote specifically for Ullmann.

“I told him I had already accepted another offer. He never forgave me,” Ullmann told Variety while promoting the documentary “Liv Ullmann – A Road Less Travelled.”

Ullmann was Oscar-nominated in 1977 for Bergman’s “Face to Face” and received an Honorary Academy Award in 2022.

She continued, “He kept writing me letters, addressed to ‘Dear Liv Ullmann,’ he was very dramatic. We didn’t talk for a year. Now, I regret not doing that film. Maybe it was a wrong choice, but I thought I was showing him I was independent.”

Ullmann added, “I know that Max [von Sydow] struggled with it for a while. He turned down ‘Fanny and Alexander,’ which [Bergman] wrote for us both.”

Ullmann recalled that Bergman told her they were “painfully connected” as partners.

“People are surprised to hear that: they all think I’m like Bergman. But the truth is, he was a child,” Ullmann said. “When I was directing ‘Faithless,’ he was allowed on set only on our last day. He hid under a blanket and just lay there, until an actress noticed it was shaking. He was laughing so hard.”

Swedish director Bergman drew on a series of disintegrated personal relationships, including his partnership with Ullmann, for the 1973 miniseries “Scenes from a Marriage,” later condensed into a feature version and remade for HBO in 2021. Ullmann starred in the original series as an unhappily married divorce lawyer drifting from her psychology professor husband.

Ullmann told Another magazine in 2022 that she takes “credit” for Bergman’s career, in part.

“I was in every movie he made after we met, except for ‘Fanny and Alexander,’ which I said no to — he was very angry about that,” Ullmann recalled. “We didn’t speak for a year and then we saw the picture together. So I do know that the movies we made together were also partly me. When I got this Oscar award, John Lithgow made a beautiful speech and said what you said: ‘Ingmar is a genius who made all these movies, but the question is, “What would he have been without Liv?”‘ I liked that and everybody applauded, and that was really nice. But you know what, ‘What would his last eleven films have looked like without me?’ So I can take credit for that, I think.”

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