by Graham Pierrepoint
Stefan Karl Stefansson – known to millions as the iconic, cartoonish villain Robbie Rotten from Icelandic children’s show LazyTown – has passed away at the age of 43. The actor rose to fame as the slimy yet loveable trickster over 104 episodes made for TV, and since that time had become the face of a popular meme revolving around the character’s song ‘We Are Number One’ in 2016. Stefansson had become an immensely popular figure online not only for his work as the character but also for his open acceptance of the meme, having even arranged for a re-enactment of the song with his co-stars in 2017.
However, Stefansson also became known for his openness in battling cholangiocarcinoma. Having previously thought to have been in remission and following what appeared to be a successful treatment of chemotherapy, it was reported earlier this year that the actor’s illness had returned – and, sadly, it is bile duct cancer which the star passed away from in recent days, having reportedly chosen to end chemotherapy earlier this April. It was thanks to the popularity of the 2016 meme that helped to make a GoFundMe campaign set up to help fund his treatment which largely supported his initial survival.
Stefansson was more than merely Robbie Rotten, however – having been a seasoned theater actor in a variety of productions in his native language as well as Little Shop of Horrors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Singin’ in the Rain. From Shakespeare to Dr Seuss – as he famously portrayed The Grinch in a musical version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas from 2008 to 2015 – he was a remarkable character actor whose rubber-faced antics were only one facet of his repertoire. He also provided voiceovers for the movies Night at the Museum and Thor.
▶ ‘LazyTown’ Actor Stefan Karl Stefansson Dead at 43
Stefansson is survived by his wife and four children, and the internet is currently paying tribute to an actor who – while perhaps not a household name on paper – was an iconic part of many childhoods, and an iconic part of internet humor in recent years. While he will largely be remembered for his cartoonish villainy on the small screen, many will recall his versatility on stage – as well as for his courage in the face of a long and public battle against illness which sadly took his life. Regardless of how you knew him – Stefan Karl Stefansson was taken from us far too soon.