Born 1955 in Stockholm, Swedish actor and musician Björn Andrésen had only appeared in one film, En kärlekshistoria (1970) at the time he was cast in Death in Venice, which gained him international recognition. While the film performed relatively poorly at the box office, Andrésen was noted for his performance as Tadzio, the beautiful young Polish boy with whom the film’s older protagonist Gustav von Aschenbach (played by Dirk Bogarde) becomes obsessed.
Film historian Lawrence J. Quirk commented in his study The Great Romantic Films (1974) that some shots of Andrésen “could be extracted from the frame and hung on the walls of the Louvre or the Vatican.”
Rumors circulated in the United States at the time of the film’s release as to whether or not Andrésen was homosexual. Andrésen emphatically denied these, and later recounted his discomfort at being forced by director Luchino Visconti during filming to visit a gay bar, where he attracted the attention of a number of older men.
Eager to dispel the rumors regarding his sexuality and to shed his “pretty boy” image, Andrésen thereafter avoided homosexual roles and parts which he felt would play off of his good looks, and was angry when feminist writer Germaine Greer used a photograph of him on the cover of her book The Beautiful Boy (2003) without his permission.
After the release of Death in Venice, Andrésen spent an extended period of time in Japan, where the film became popular, and he appeared in a number of television commercials and also recorded several pop songs. It is said that his appearance as Tadzio in the film influenced many Japanese anime artists, especially Keiko Takemiya.
Andrésen has appeared in several other films. These include Pelikaanimies (2004), Kojan (1992) and Smugglarkungen (1985).
In addition to being an actor, Andrésen is a professional musician, and until recently performed and toured regularly with the Sven Erics dance band.
Take a look at these gorgeous photos to see the beauty of teenager Björn Andrésen in the early 1970s.