Johan's biography

   Johan Olof Widerberg was born on 16 March 1974. His parents were Bo Widerberg, the famous director and Ann-Christin Santesson. He grew up on Stora Essingen in Stockholm. Johan was an introverted child, but in spite of that he early on followed his dad Bo to film festivals and film locations and he had his first role at one year old in Bo's film "The man on the roof". His older siblings Nina and Martin, children from an earlier marriage of Bo's have also been in Bo's films, as well as Johan's mom. In 1984 Johan yet again had a part in one of dad's films, this time "The man from Mallorca". With Bo's help and a friend who was going to be an extra, Johan 1985 got a small part in Lasse Hallströms film "My Life As a Dog". The next film was "Ormens väg på hälleberget", also this time with Bo as director. Following this film, Bo took a break from film making. The break turned out to last until Bo and Johan decided to do "All things fair".

      When Johan was 14 years old Bo left the family for a new woman. Johan took it hard and broke off contact with Bo. At the same time he started getting tired of school and decided to drop out and move away from home. Around that time he played the lead role of Didrik in the TV series "Ebba and Didrik", a role that he prior to that had done on the radio as a summer serial. Johan was very shy and to now do the role in front of a camera instead, was to him a difficult experience. After "Ebba and Didrik" Johan decided never to stand in front of a camera again, however lucky for us he didn't keep that promise!

      When Johan was 16 years old he got a job as an assistant at Rally-TV, a production company for among other things commercials. There, for the first time, he met Ulf Malmros. He worked there until he was 18, when he started feeling like he wasn't getting anywhere. He then accepted the role in "Augustitango" as a way to get away from that situation, but the film was surrounded by problems.

      Ulf Malmros had talked about a project that he'd written with Johan in mind and when Johan was offered the role in "Report to heaven" he took it. Johan had done a few small roles since "Ebba and Didrik", but this was the first time in many years that he had done this big a role and "Report to heaven" was also a kind of breakthrough for him, at least for a younger audience.

      It was about that time that Johan and his dad took up contact again and started talking about "All things fair". Johan worked as production assistant during the preparations for the film. In addition to that, he also had time to do a number of smaller parts on TV, but also a bigger role as a murder suspect in one of the films in the Sjöwall-Wahlöö series before "All things fair". At the same time Johan made his stage debut at Stockholm's City Theater.

      Because "All things fair" was going to be Bo Widerberg's first film in nearly ten years, the film was surrounded by much expectation and speculation. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for, among other things, an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Bo and Johan travelled all over the world to promote the film and became very close friends. Bo was very proud of Johan's work in the film and the attention he received because of it.

      Following "All things fair", Johan's next role was in the film "Christmas Oratorio", where he again played a young man who gets involved with an older woman. When "Christmas Oratorio" came out, he received negative reviews for the first time and this took a toll on his self-confidence. After that he had a part as a "raggare" in "Selma and Johanna - A roadmovie. In May 1997 Johan's dad died and this was a hard blow for Johan. Bo and Johan had plans on working together again and Bo had a project that he was working on when he died, but therefore never got realized.

      Then during 1998 two films where Johan had big roles came out, "Lithivm" and "Under the Sun". "Lithivm" was a critical disaster despite directing by the new promising director David Flamholc. Colin Nutley's "Under the Sun" on the other hand was, in spite of some hesitant critics, an audience success also nominated for an Oscar in the category for Best Foreign Language Film.

      The following year, Johan made his debut as a director of a pilot for a children's film. Unfortunately it got rejected, but it gave enough of a taste of it to continue working toward a task as director. The same year he was chosen to represent Sweden as a "Shooting Star", one of the talents in Europe who every year get chosen to go to the Berlin Film Festival and there meet press and audiences.

      In the spring of 2000 "Foreign Fields" premiered and at the same time the job offers poured in. After basically being out of work for two years Johan now got an offer to be part of Swedish Television's adaption of Hjalmar Bergman's "Herr von Hancken". There he played a young man who's hopelessly in love with Tuva Novotny. Sparks flew privately as well and they now live together. Prior to that he had relatively recently ended a relationship of many years with radio woman Amanda Rydman. Johan is a very private person and he's never confirmed this himself. He also did a small role in "Gossip" and got the lead role in Malmö Dramatic Theatre's stage production of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" as well.

      The play opened on 2 February, but on 9 March Swedish newspapers were filled with reports on how the show the night before had to be interrupted because Johan collapsed. It turned out that Johan had come down with pericarditis and shows had to be cancelled. Because of that it was decided to put on a new round of shows in the winter of 2002. This time Sybil Vane was played by Tuva Novotny.

      The latest news on Johan is that he's playing one of the hostages in a film about the Norrmalmstorg drama. The film, where Johan's girlfriend Tuva Novotny also has a part, will premiere on Swedish Television at the beginning of 2003.

Quotes from Johan

- From having been young and maybe a bit promising, I've suddenly got a lot to prove.
Johan after the success of "All things fair" (Ultra Magazine No. 2 1996)

- Love and work. And they should stand roughly side by side.

– Oh, my god, is so incredibly much. She's been immensely important as a damn security, that wasn't anything that my old man represented, not even when the whole family lived together.
Johan in answer to a question on what his mother has meant to him (Aftonbladet Puls 980828)

– If I'm going out, it's going to be with my friends, I don't want to stand with the Graaf sisters chewing on salmon sandwiches.
Johan about the fact that he's rarely seen at celebrity parties (Aftonbladet Puls 980828)

What others have said about Johan

- It's probably some Swedish actor, like Marika Lagercrantz or Johan Widerberg, or someone.
Rebecka Liljeberg to the question on who the most famous person she's met was (Late Night with Luuk 1998)

Short facts about Johan

  • Johan is one of few Swedish actors that have been in so many films at such a low age
  • Johan's mom works at the Institute of Education in Stockholm, among other things investigating the knowledge level for students at the compulsory education level.
  • Johan has said that he loves Errol Flynn films
  • Two favourite directors are Elia Kazan and Billy Wilder
  • He loved "Leaving Las Vegas"
  • He has been called Sweden's perhaps most secret actor
  • Never pleased with himself
  • Has been in bicycle competitions
  • He's 170 cm tall
  • Sports freak
  • Actors he admires are Marlon Brando and Thommy Berggren
  • Johan has among other things played soccer. He played for Djurgården until he was 14-15 years old when he though that the training became too massive.
  • Home     Biography     Filmography     Articles     Pictures     News Items     Related