Lena Olin

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Lena Olin
Lena Olin in 2015.jpg
Olin in June 2015
Lena Maria Jonna Olin

(1955-03-22) 22 March 1955 (age 67)
Stockholm, Sweden
EducationSwedish National Academy of Mime and Acting
Years active1976–present
(m. 1994)
Parent(s)Britta Holmberg
Stig Olin

Lena Maria Jonna Olin (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈlêːna ʊˈliːn] (listen); born 22 March 1955) is a Swedish actress. She has received nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award.

Mentored by filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, she made her screen debut with a small role in his film Face to Face (1976). After graduating from the drama school, Olin joined the Royal Dramatic Theatre, followed by roles in Bergman's films Fanny and Alexander (1982) and After the Rehearsal (1984). She made her international breakthrough with a role of a free-spirited artist in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), which earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture.

Olin garnered further critical acclaim for her portrayals of a Jewish survivor in the comedy-drama Enemies, A Love Story (1989), for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and an abused wife in the comedy-drama Chocolat (2000), for which she received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Her other film roles include The Adventures of Picasso (1978), Havana (1990), Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), Mr. Jones (1993), The Ninth Gate (1999), Queen of the Damned (2002), Casanova (2005), The Reader (2008), Remember Me (2010), Maya Dardel (2017), and The Artist's Wife (2019).

On television, Olin starred as KGB agent Irina Derevko on the spy thriller Alias (2002–2006), which earned her a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Her other television roles include the sitcom Welcome to Sweden (2014–2015), the drama series Riviera (2017–2020), and the drama series Hunters (2020).

Early life[edit]

Olin was born March 22, 1955, in Stockholm, Sweden, the youngest of three children of actors Britta Holmberg (1921–2004) and Stig Olin (1920–2008). She studied acting at Sweden's National Academy of Dramatic Art from 1976 to 1979.[1]

In October 1974, at age 19, Olin was crowned Miss Scandinavia 1974 in Helsinki, Finland.[2]

Film career[edit]

Olin worked both as a substitute teacher and as a hospital nurse before becoming an actress. Olin performed for over a decade with Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre-ensemble (1980–1994) in classic plays by William Shakespeare and August Strindberg, and appeared in smaller roles of several Swedish films directed by Bergman and in productions of Swedish Television's TV-Theatre Company.[3]

Ingmar Bergman cast Olin in Face to Face (1976). A year later,[4] she began acting at the national stage in Stockholm in productions directed by Bergman, and with Bergman's production of King Lear (in which Olin played Cordelia) she toured the world—Paris, Berlin, New York, Copenhagen, Moscow, and Oslo, among others. Critically acclaimed stage performances by Olin at Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre included the leading part as The Daughter in A Dream Play by Strindberg, Margarita in the stage adaption of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, Ann in Edward Bond's Summer, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, the title role in Ingmar Bergman's rendition of Strindberg's Miss Julie, and her neurotic Charlotte in the contemporary drama Nattvarden (The Last Supper) by Lars Norén.[5]

In 1980, Olin was one of the earliest winners of the Ingmar Bergman Award,[6] initiated in 1978 by the director himself, who was also one of the two judges.[7]

Olin's international debut in a lead role on film was in Bergman's After the Rehearsal (1984). Two years earlier, she appeared in a small role in the same director's Fanny and Alexander. In 1988, Olin starred with Daniel Day-Lewis in her first major part in an English speaking and internationally produced film, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, followed by Sydney Pollack's Havana (1990), Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate (1999), and many others.[citation needed]

In 1989, Olin earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Enemies: A Love Story, in which she portrayed the survivor of a Nazi death camp. In 1994 Olin starred in Romeo Is Bleeding and played what is perhaps her most extreme character to date; the outrageous hit woman Mona Demarkov—still one of the actress's most popular portrayals on film.[citation needed]

Olin and director Lasse Hallström collaborated on the film Chocolat (2000), which received five Academy Award nominations, and on Casanova (2005).[citation needed]


From 2002 to 2006, Olin appeared opposite Jennifer Garner in her first American television role, starting on the second season of the successful television series Alias as Irina Derevko. For her work on the series, Olin received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2003.[8]

Olin received good reviews for her part in Alias—particularly her chemistry with Victor Garber, who played her former husband and sometime-enemy Jack Bristow—and was rumored to have been offered a salary in excess of US$100,000 per episode to remain part of the cast.[citation needed] She left the show after her first and only season; this was, however, to spend more time with her family in New York.[citation needed]

In May 2005, Olin returned to Alias for a two-episode appearance at the end of the show's fourth season, and subsequently appeared again in the fifth season, initially in a cameo in December 2005, and then following a four-month hiatus she appeared again in April 2006, and for the finale on 22 May 2006.[citation needed]

Recent projects[edit]

In 2005, Olin returned to Sweden for a brief period of filming and starred in a supporting role in Danish director Simon Staho's film Bang Bang Orangutang (with a punk music soundtrack by, among others, The Clash and Iggy Pop).[citation needed]

In 2008, Olin had a small but significant role in the Oscar-nominated film The Reader (2008), playing a Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz death march in a trial in the 1960s and the woman's daughter twenty years later.[9][10]

Between 2014 and 2015, Olin starred in Swedish sitcom Welcome to Sweden.[11]

Lena Olin starred in the US-Polish independent drama film Maya Dardel in the year 2017.[12][13]

Personal life[edit]

Olin has a son, August, from a relationship with actor Örjan Ramberg.[4] Since 1992, she has been married to filmmaker Lasse Hallström, with whom she has a daughter, Tora. They reside in Bedford, New York.[14][15][16]



Year Title Role Notes
1976 Face to Face Shop Assistant
1977 Friaren som inte ville gifta sig Gypsy Woman TV movie
1977 Taboo Girl (uncredited)
1978 The Adventures of Picasso Dolores
1980 Love Lena
1982 Som ni behagar TV movie
1982 Gräsänklingar Nina
1982 Fanny and Alexander Rosa (The Ekdahl house)
1983 After the Rehearsal Anna Egerman (older) TV movie
1985 Wallenberg: A Hero's Story Marta TV movie
1986 Glasmästarna Lady with Dog TV movie
1986 Flight North Karin
1986 A Matter of Life and Death Nadja Melander
1987 Komedianter Ann TV movie
1988 The Unbearable Lightness of Being Sabina Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1988 Friends Sue
1989 S/Y Glädjen Annika Larsson
1989 Enemies, A Love Story Masha New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1990 Hebriana Lena TV movie
1990 Havana Bobby Duran
1993 Romeo Is Bleeding Mona Demarkov Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993 Mr. Jones Dr. Elizabeth Bowen
1995 The Night and the Moment The Marquise
1996 Night Falls on Manhattan Peggy Lindstrom
1998 Polish Wedding Jadzia
1998 Hamilton Tessie
1999 Mystery Men Dr. Anabel Leek
1999 The Ninth Gate Liana Telfer
2000 Chocolat Josephine Muscat Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—European Film Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2001 Ignition Judge Faith Mattis
2002 Queen of the Damned Maharet
2002 Darkness Maria
2003 The United States of Leland Marybeth Fitzgerald
2003 Hollywood Homicide Ruby
2005 Casanova Andrea
2005 Bang Bang Orangutang Nina
2007 Awake Lilith Beresford
2008 The Reader Rose Mather / Ilana Mather
2010 Remember Me Diane Hirsch
2012 The Hypnotist Simone Bark
2013 The Devil You Know Kathryn Vale
2013 Night Train to Lisbon Older Estefânia
2017 Maya Dardel Maya Dardel Best Actress Award at the Prague Independent Film Festival[17][18]
2019 The Artist's Wife[19] Claire Smythson
2020 Adam Yevgeina


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Hamilton Tessie
2002–2006 Alias Irina Derevko 27 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2003)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television Series (2003, 2004)
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Ingrid Block Episode: "Confidential"
2014–2015 Welcome to Sweden Viveka Börjesson 20 episodes
2016 Vinyl Mrs. Fineman 3 episodes
2017–2020 Riviera Irina Atman Main role
2017 Mindhunter Annaliese Stilman
2020 Hunters The Colonel 10 episodes


  1. ^ "Olin, Lena 1955–". www.encyclopedia.com.
  2. ^ LENA OnLINe :: Press Archive. Retrieved from http://lena-olin.org/articles.php?read=archive/0001 Archived 27 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Insight Guides (2016). Insight Guides Sweden (Travel Guide eBook). APA. p. 231. ISBN 978-1-78671-545-6.
  4. ^ a b Kurtz, Howard (18 January 1990). "Stockholm's Smoldering Star". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Lena Olin | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Lena Olin". Swedish Film Institute. 8 March 2014. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014.
  7. ^ Ingmar Bergman Prize Archived 7 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 18 October 2011
  8. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  9. ^ Lauren Viera. "Lena Olin expertly playing different roles". NewsOK.
  10. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "LENA OLIN ANS INTERVIEW THE READER". YouTube.
  11. ^ "Welcome to Sweden | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  12. ^ "SXSW Film Festival Announces 2017 Lineup". Variety. 31 January 2017.
  13. ^ Hipes, Patrick (22 June 2017). "Samuel Goldwyn & Orion Acquire SXSW Pic 'Maya Dardel'".
  14. ^ Kaufman, Joanne (12 May 2020). "Lena Olin's Real Obsession". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  15. ^ "The Dish: Lena Olin, daughter Tora, seen on The Avenue". GreenwichTime. 5 March 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  16. ^ Moore, Roger. "'CHOCOLAT' ROLE SWEETEST IN YEARS FOR OLIN". chicagotribune.com. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  17. ^ "Train Driver's Diary wins at Prague Independent Film Festival". Prague TV.
  18. ^ "PIFF 2017 Winners". PIFF.
  19. ^ "The Artist's Wife | Celsius Entertainment | London | Film Sales".

External links[edit]