Lena Olin
Birth Date:
March 22, 1956
Birth Place:
Stockholm, Sweden
5' 11
Famous for:
Her role as Sabina in Philip Kaufman's 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' (1988)
Swedish National Academy of Mime and Acting (studied acting from 1976-1979)
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Enemies, a Love Story


Internationally acclaimed Academy Award nominated Swedish actress Lena Olin became famous in her native country acting in plays and movies directed by the outstanding Ingmar Bergman, before achieving worldwide prominence with her role as the lusty Sabina in Philip Kaufman's “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1988), from which she earned a Golden Globe nomination, and with the Oscar-nominated, scene-stealing role of the survivor of a Nazi camp in Paul Mazursky's “Enemies, a Love Story” (1989). The latter movie also brought the beautiful actress a New York Film Critics Circle Award. Since then, Olin has worked in a number of Hollywood and international films, including “Romeo Is Bleeding” (1993, received a MTV Movie nomination), Sidney Lumet's “Night Falls on Manhattan” (1997), “Mystery Men” (1999), Roman Polanski's “The Ninth Gate”(1999), “Ignition” (2001), “Queen of the Damned” (2002), “The United States of Leland” (2003), Ron Shelton's “Hollywood Homicide” (2003), “Darkness” (2004, shot in 2002), “Awake” (2007) and “Devil You Know” (2008). She has been directed by husband Lasse Hallstrom in two films, including 2000's “Chocolat,” from which Olin gained praise for her portrayal of a kleptomaniac wife. On the small screen, the powerful performer is probably best known to American audiences as Jennifer Garner's mother on the J.J. Abrams-created series “Alias,” which ran on ABC from 2002 to 2006. The role brought Olin an Emmy nomination in 2003.

As for her private life, Olin has been married to director husband Lasse Hallstrom since 1994. She has a daughter named Tora Maria Elin (born in 1995) and a stepson named Johan (born 1976). Before the marriage, Olin was romantically linked to fellow Swedish actor Örjan Ramberg, with whom she lived with for several years from the mid 1970s to the end of the 1980s, when they broke up. The relationship produced a son, F. Auguste Rahmberg (born in 1984). Currently, Olin and her family reside in New York. On husband Hallstrom, she stated, “I am in love with my best friend.”

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Childhood and Family:

The youngest child of three, Lena Maria Jonna Olin was born on March 22, 1955, in Stockholm, Sweden. Her father, Stig Olin, was a director, singer, composer and an actor who appeared in Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece “The Seventh Seal,” and her mother, Britta Holmberg, was an actress and singer who retired from acting at age 30 to raise her children. One of Lena's brothers is the Swedish singer Mats Olin.

A superior student, Lena graduated with a 4.9 average with the highest in Sweden being 5.0. She studied medicine in college and took jobs as a substitute teacher and a hospital nurse before switching to acting. From 1976 to 1979, she was trained at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Sweden.

On March 18, 1994, Lena tied the knot with director Lasse Hallstrom (born on June 2, 1946), whom she met in Sweden in 1992. They welcomed their first child, daughter Tora Hallstrom, in 1995. Lena has a stepson named Johan Hallstrom (born 1976) from Hallstrom's previous married to Malou Hallstrom who died in 2005 due to a drowning accident. She also has a son named F. Auguste Rahmberg (born on September 7, 1984) with Orjan Ramberg.



Stockholm, Sweden, native Lena Olin won the title of “Miss Scandinavia” in Helsinki, Finland, in October 1975 when she was 20 years old. Her acting break came the following year when director Ingmar Bergman cast her in a small part as a shop assistant in his Oscar-nominated “Face to Face” (1976). She later performed at the national theater in Stockholm in productions directed by Bergman and toured Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Moscow and Oslo with Bergman's production of “King Lear,” in which Olin was cast as Cordelia.

In 1978, Olin had a prominent film role in “The Adventures of Picasso,” directed by Tage Danielsson. The same year, she also joined Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theater with which she would spend over a decade acting in such critically acclaimed plays as Strindberg's “The Daughter in A Dream Play,” Mikhail Bulgakov's “The Master and Margarita,” Goldoni's “The Servant of Two Masters,” Ben Johnson's “The Alchemist,” Edward Bond's “Summer,” Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” Bergman's rendition of Strindberg's “Miss Julie” and Lars Norén's “Nattvarden (The Last Supper).”

Olin's next big screen outing with Bergman was the 1982 drama “Fanny and Alexander,” which won four Oscars, including one for Best Foreign Language Film. However, the talented actress did not make her international debut in a leading role until Bergman cast her as the older Anna Egerman in the drama “After the Rehearsal” (1984), a character penned for her. The following year, she broke into the American market with a bit part in the TV film “Wallenberg: A Hero's Story,” which was aired on NBC and starred Richard Chamberlain as Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat responsible for saving thousands of lives from the Nazi Holocaust.

Thanks to her fine stage turn in “King Liar,” Olin caught the attention of executive producer Bertil Ohlsson and soon made her first English-speaking and internationally produced film, the Philip Kaufman-directed “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1988), based on a best-selling book by Milan Kundera. Costarring with Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche, she portrayed Sabina, the mistress to Lewis' character, and won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. The role helped launch the actress' international reputation as a “thinking man's beauty.” After the attention-getting performance, Olin received many offers from the U.S. and Hollywood. In 1989, she teamed up with Ron Silver and Anjelica Huston to play Masha, a Polish immigrant and Holocaust survivor, in Paul Mazursky's “Enemies, a Love Story,” for which she was nominated for a 1990 Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The role also brought her a New York Film Critics Circle Award.

1990 saw Olin star with Robert Redford in the Sydney Pollack-helmed “Havana,” but the film was considered a flop at the box office. She went on to portray a doctor who falls for her manic-depressive patient (played by Richard Gere) in the unconvincing “Mr. Jones” (1993), helmed by Mike Figgis, before landing her most hideous role to date, the psycho Russian assassin Mona Demarko in Peter Medak's “Romeo Is Bleeding” (1993), opposite Gary Oldman. The performance earned the actress a MTV Movie nomination for Best Action Sequence.

Before the 1990s were over, Olin added six more movies to her impressive credits. After playing The Marquise in “The Night & the Moment” (1995), she romanced Andy Garcia in Sidney Lumet's “Night Falls on Manhattan” (1997) and then costarred with Peter Stormare in the slick Swedish action film “Hamilton” (1998). Also in 1998, she could be seen playing a strong-minded mother of five in Teresa Connelly's “Polish Wedding.” She closed out the decade by having a small role as Geoffrey Rush's psychiatrist in “Mystery Men” and supporting Johnny Depp and Frank Langella in Roman Polanski's “The Ninth Gate” (both 1999).

Entering the new millennium, Olin worked with her director husband Lasse Hallstrom on the film “Chocolat” (2000), adapted from a novel by Joanne Harris. She was praised for her performance of Josephine Muscat, a kleptomaniac and abused wife who leaves her husband, and received such nominations as a BAFTA nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, a European Film nomination for Best Actress and a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture. Next up for Olin, she was cast as a federal judge named Faith Mattis on Yves Simoneau's “Ignition” (2001), played the maternal vampire Maharet in the big screen version of Anne Rice's vampire themed novel “Queen of the Damned” (2002) and starred with Anna Paquin in the thriller “Darkness” (2002), which was released in the U.S. in 2004 to negative reviews.

It was also in 2002 that Olin made her return to American TV by joining the cast of the ABC series “Alias.” She netted a 2003 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and also received two Golden Satellite nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Drama (2003 and 2004) and a 2005 Teen Choice nomination for Choice TV Parental Units, shared with Victor Garber and Ron Rifkin. Although her acting was impressive, the actress was forced to leave the show in 2003 due to a deadlock in contract negotiations. She later re-appeared on the show for its finale season in 2005-2006.

Meanwhile, Olin starred with Kevin Spacey and Ryan Gosling in “The United States of Leland” (2003), portrayed the lover of Harrison Ford in the action-comedy “Hollywood Homicide” (2003), written and directed by Ron Shelton, and rejoined her filmmaker husband for “Casanova” (2005), which went on to become one of the most ill-conceived and dissatisfying movies of the year. The film also starred Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons and Oliver Platt. She also acted in the film “Bang Bang Orangutang” (2005).

Recently, Olin costarred with Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba and Terrence Howard in the psychological thriller “Awake” (2007), written and directed by Joby Harold. Her new film, “Devil You Know,” in which she stars opposite Rosamund Pike, Dean Winters and Molly Price, will be released in 2008.


  • New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, “Enemies: A Love Story,” 1989

  • Guldbagge: Ingmar Bergman Award, 1980

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