by Graham Pierrepoint
He’s known to millions as the goofy villain Robbie Rotten from Icelandic kids’ TV show LazyTown – and to millions more as the star of one of 2016’s most enduring internet memes – and after a prolonged battle with liver cancer, stage and TV actor Stefan Karl Stefansson has announced that he has appeared to have beaten ‘the damn disease’. These reports come from Heavy.com, who in turn report from Icelandic broadcaster RUV – as news of his beating cancer came in stark contrast to media reports of the actor being in the final stages of the disease earlier this summer. His cancer is thought to be in remission – meaning that, at least for now, the star is in the clear.
Stefansson’s performances as cartoonish rubber-faced villain Robbie Rotten arguably made the show for millions of viewers – and, thanks to one of the show’s many songs, ‘We Are Number One’, gaining memetic status in 2016, the brand and character were brought back into public consciousness – around the time when Stefansson was first diagnosed with cancer of the liver. Fans raised over $130,000 for the star in an effort to fund treatment – for which the actor has remained hugely grateful, having been open with his fans and having produced video content in light of the We Are Number One meme along the way.
Stefansson’s triumph in the face of stage four cancer is being met with joy across the internet – and while part of the star’s liver was removed in order for the cancer to be destroyed, he is hopeful that it will ‘never’ return – referring to his survival through months of intensive treatment as miraculous. However, it is thought that the actor will still be monitored closely by doctors to ensure that such growth does not reoccur.
Stefansson has had a wide career across stage and screen, having also portrayed popular Dr Seuss character The Grinch on stage – and he is also well-known for founding an anti-bullying organisation known as Regnbogaborn, which translates as Rainbow Children. He is also reportedly working on a stand-up comedy routine based on his cancer battle, clearly keen to put his public fight with the disease to rest in his own idiosyncratic way. Along the way, he has received awards and is perhaps nothing short of a national treasure in his home country.
It’s not every day that an internet meme helps to drive the kind of support Stefansson received – but millions worldwide will be delighted to hear that Robbie Rotten is still very much with us – and that, in a battle with liver cancer that waged on for almost a year, Stefansson has very much proven that he is number one.