Stefan Karl Stefansson was an Icelandic film and stage actor/comedian, best known for playing the villain Robbie Rotten of Nickjr’s popular TV program Lazy Town, that currently airs worldwide in over 103 countries, in all five continents, on [such distinguished] networks as BBC, CBBC, CBS, Discovery Kids, Disney, RUV-Icelandic TV, and Nick Jr.
Stefan Karl was born 1975 into a non-biz working class family in the village of Hafnarfjordur in Iceland. Shortly after graduation from drama school from The Icelandic Academy of Arts in Reykjavík] he signed up with the National Theatre of Iceland, soon to be praised by critics and audiences alike as one of the most individual and versatile actor of the younger generation, introduced at the beginning of a new millennium.
As a lead comedic actor with the NT he was invited to play the leading role in the original theatre production of Lazy Town, in which he created the character of Robbie Rotten and when the play was eventually turned into a Television series, he was the obvious choice for the same part, in recognition of his contribution to its extraordinary success. As the villain Stefan Karl has been instrumental to the series and the success it has achieved, which includes number of prestigious awards and honors, including an EMIL Award, EDDA Award, Emmy Award nominations, and most notably two BAFTA Award nomination in the United Kingdom as well as having won the 2006 BAFTA Award, when LazyTown was specifically awarded for the episode titled “Robbie’s Greatest Misses.” He has also received the “Thorbjorn Egner Award” for an Outstanding Stage Performance as well as having his one man show, Thousand Island Dressing, selected by the President of the Leipzig Film Festival in Germany, as a showcase of Icelandic theatre, and performed at the festival’s 10 year anniversary.
As a star player on repertoire at the National Theatre Stefan Karl also excelled in a variety of classical and contemporary starring- and character parts, such as the title role in Rostand’s romantic tragedy Cyrano De Bergerac, as the song and dance man Cosmo Brown in Singin’ in the Rain, the sufferable (middle age) stage director Lloyd Douglas in Noises Off and Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream. For one season Stefan Karl was borrowed by the NT’s competitor The Reykjavík City Theatre, to star in Little Shop of Horrors as the formidable Dentist (plus playing ten different supporting roles).
In his relatively short career Stefán Karl built up a unique range of hilariously funny and eccentric characters, like the singing gay sheep farmer in the popular Icelandic feature comedy Stella Runs for Office, and a huge gallery of diverse comedic characters for the annual New Years Eve Comedy Hour-Variety Show on RUV-TV in Iceland, although it would be quite appropriate to say these had all rolled together into one, in his definitive interpretation of Robbie Rotten.
Stefan Karl was a founder of the reputable nonprofit organisation Rainbow Children in Iceland, a driving force and efficient charity fund raiser for rallying against child bullying, an organization which has now spread to Canada and is currently being introduced to the American public.
Stefan Karl ran his own TV and film production company in Europe, currently developing projects. He was a keen aviation enthusiast with a solo permit as a pilot, a licensed skipper for fishing boats of 30 tons, and during photography of the latest series of Lazy Town, he spent his entire spare time off set as a featured singer, vocal impressionist and youngest member of the popular rock’n roll band Studmenn, a group of celebrated musicians, all over fifty, who’s catchphrase is “Lets embrace the oldest teenage rock band in Scandinavia.” In his later years, Stefán Karl resided in San Diego with his wife Steinunn Olína, a renowned actress and novelist, and their three daughters and one son.
In October of 2016 Stefan Karl announced that he had developed Bile Duct Cancer. A GoFundMe campaign to cover his medical costs became popular when a few of the songs from “LazyTown” began receiving parodies and Internet memes. Stefan Karl said in August of 2017 that he was in remission but his condition became inoperable in March 2018. He discontinued chemotherapy in June 2018 and died on August 21, 2018.
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