Stefán Karl Stefánsson

Stefán Karl Stefánsson (/ˈstɛfən ˈstɛfənsən/; Icelandic: [ˈstɛːfaun ˈkʰartl̥ ˈstɛːfaunsɔn];[2] 10 July 1975 – 21 August 2018) was an Icelandic actor and singer, best known for portraying antagonist Robbie Rotten on the children's television series LazyTown.

Stefán Karl Stefánsson
Stefán Karl in 2009
Born(1975-07-10)10 July 1975
Died21 August 2018(2018-08-21) (aged 43)
Cause of deathBile duct cancer
EducationIceland Academy of the Arts
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1994–2018
Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir (m. 20022018)


Stefán Karl's career started in 1994 at the age of 19, when he worked as a puppeteer for television.[3] During his years as a puppeteer, he had also been studying at the Drama Academy of Iceland. However, he was unsatisfied with the perspectives of Icelandic drama standards. He recalls that his principal at his high school said that "acting is not about making faces and changing your face", which he disagreed with.[4]

Later, Stefán Karl was invited by Magnús Scheving, an Icelandic gymnast, to portray one of the characters in the second LazyTown play.[5] Scheving created the plays due to his concerns about Iceland's younger generation lacking sufficient physical exercise. Stefán Karl explained that "[Scheving] wanted the kids to get healthier, so he created this musical called LazyTown. He played Sportacus, the fitness fanatic, and I was Robbie Rotten, the guy who liked to stay indoors and sleep". After initial success with the musical, Nickelodeon eventually made a deal with the creators of LazyTown to air the first 40 episodes of LazyTown along with a special studio built in Iceland. During the first few years of LazyTown in the early 2000s, Stefán Karl initially knew no English, but soon became fluent.[4]

Personal life

Stefán Karl lived in Los Angeles with wife Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir, three daughters, and one son.[6][7] In June 2018, he was awarded the Order of the Falcon.[8]

Illness and death

Stefán Karl announced in October 2016 that he had been diagnosed with bile duct cancer;[9][10][11][12] a GoFundMe campaign was subsequently created by LazyTown head writer Mark Valenti to pay his living costs when he became too ill to work. The campaign was popularized by various YouTube users uploading parodies of Stefán Karl's work, and linking to the GoFundMe page, which led to the songs "We Are Number One" and "The Mine Song" from LazyTown becoming Internet memes.[13] In August 2017, Stefán Karl stated he was in remission.[14][15] He clarified on his GoFundMe campaign that while his metastases had been removed after successful liver surgery in June 2017, he still had the disease and had refused further adjuvant therapy.[16]

In March 2018, Stefán Karl was diagnosed with inoperable bile duct cancer, and said that he was undergoing chemotherapy to prolong his life.[17] In April 2018, he announced that he personally chose to discontinue chemotherapy,[18] and proceeded to shut down all his social media accounts.[19]

He died on 21 August 2018 at the age of 43.[20][21] His wife stated that "Per Stefan's wishes, there will be no funeral. His earthly remains will be scattered in secrecy in a distant ocean."[22][23]

It was announced by his manager, Cheryl Edison, that the Stefán Karl Academy & Center for the Performing Arts would be launched in Switzerland in 2019 as a memorial to his career.[24]


Stefán Karl has been credited in various works including plays, television series, films, and games.[25]


Year Title Role Notes
1997–1999 The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
1998–1999 Palace of Crows by Einar Örn Gunnarsson
1998–1999 Ivanov by Anton Chekhov
1999–2000 1000 Island Dressing by Hallgrímur Helgason
1999–2000 Little Shop of Horrors Orin Scrivello, D.D.S.
1999–2000 A Midsummer Night's Dream
1999–2000 Glanni Glæpur í Latabæ by Magnús Scheving and Sigurdur Sigurjónsson Glanni Glæpur (Robbie Rotten) Primary antagonist
2000–2001 Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones
2000–2001 Singin' in the Rain by Comden, Green, Freed and Brown Cosmo Brown
2000–2002 The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
2001–2002 Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
2002–2003 Noises Off by Michael Frayn
2002–2003 Life x 3 by Yasmina Reza
2008–2015 Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical The Grinch Baltimore and Boston (2008)
Los Angeles (2009)
North American tour (2010–14)
Worcester, Massachusetts and Appleton, Wisconsin (2015)[26]


According to IMDb:[27]

Year Title Role Notes
1994 Áramótaskaup New Reporter, many others Debut film
TV film
1995 Privacy Student First feature film
1999 Skaupið: 1999 Robbie Williams, many others TV film
2001 Regina Manni – Police Officer
2001 Áramótaskaup TV film
2002 Stella for Office Ingimundur
2002 Litla lirfan ljóta The Worm
2002 Áramótaskaup Many roles TV film
2006 Night at the Museum Miscellaneous crew
2007 Anna and the Moods Voiceover
2009 Jóhannes Diddi
2011 Thor Miscellaneous crew
2011 Polite People Lárus Skjaldarson Lead actor
2014 Harry Og Heimir Símon


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Baking Trouble Channel 1 program
1999 God Exists... And Love Channel 1
Drama Academy of Iceland
2000 Angel No. 5503288 Channel 1 program
2000 Car Mechanic Sketches for Eurovision Channel 1 program
2000 Cars Can Fly Channel 1 program
2004–2007; 2013–2014 LazyTown Robbie Rotten Main villain
2015 Titch and Ted Do Maths

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2017 For Honor Viking Soldier [28][29][30]


  1. Stone, Natalie (26 August 2018). "LazyTown Star Stefán Karl Stefánsson's Wife Remembers the Late Actor: 'For His Life to Be Cut So Short Was a Blow to Us All'". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  2. Karl, Stefán (27 November 2018). "Stefan Karl Stefansson – Last public performance in December 2017". YouTube. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  3. Barnes, Tom (22 August 2018). "Star of Lazy Town Stefan Karl Stefansson has died aged 43". The Independent. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  4. Ouzounian, Richard (24 December 2010). "The Grinch who came from Iceland". Toronto Star. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  5. Baker, Neal (22 August 2018). "Who was Stefan Karl Stefansson and when did the Lazytown actor die?". The Sun. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  6. O'Sullivan, Kyle (21 August 2018). "LazyTown actor Stefan Karl Stefansson dies aged 43 after battle with cancer". mirror. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  7. The Sun (22 August 2018). "Lazytown Robbie Rotten actor dies". News Pty Limited. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  8. "Fálkaorðan". Forseti Íslands (in Icelandic). Skrifstofa forseta Íslands. 17 June 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  9. "Stefán Karl alvarlega veikur" [Stefán Karl is seriously ill]. (in Icelandic). 22 September 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  10. "Stefán Karl lagður inn á sjúkrahús um helgina". DV (in Icelandic). 22 September 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  11. "Actor de Lazy Town padece de cáncer y pide ayuda" [LazyTown actor suffers from cancer and requests help]. La República (in Spanish). 19 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  12. Sandwell, Ians (16 March 2018). "LazyTown actor Stefán Karl Stefánsson reveals his cancer is back and it's 'inoperable'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  13. Asarch, Steven (17 December 2016). "'We Are Number One' Meme: Why Do People Keep Remixing A Children's Show Song?". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  14. ""Lífið er núna"". RÚV (in Icelandic). 11 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  15. Moore, Sam (16 August 2017). "Robbie Rotten actor reveals good news about his cancer diagnosis". Metro. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  16. Anderton, Joe (14 August 2017). ""Stefan Karl Stefansson Is Free of Cancer"". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  17. Kelly, Emma (16 March 2018). "LazyTown's Stefan Karl Stefansson confirms 'inoperable' cancer has returned". Metro. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  18. McManus, Samuel (21 August 2018). "Stefan Karl Stefansson dead: LazyTown actor dies of cancer at the age of 43". OK!. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  19. Akingbade, Toby (5 April 2018). "LazyTown's Stefan Karl Stefansson deletes social media as he confirms return of 'inoperable' cancer". Metro. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  20. Þórarinn Þórarinsson (21 August 2018). "Stefán Karl Stefánsson er látinn" [Stefán Karl Stefánsson is gone]. Fréttablaðið (in Icelandic). Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  21. Baillie, Katie (21 August 2018). "LazyTown actor Stefan Karl Stefansson dies of cancer aged 43". Metro. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  22. Yeung, Jessie (22 August 2018). "Stefan Karl Stefansson, LazyTown's Robbie Rotten actor, dies aged 43". CNN. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  23. Kelly, Emma (22 August 2018). "Stefan Karl Stefansson's wife confirms no funeral will be held for LazyTown star". Metro. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  24. Masters, Samantha (21 August 2018). "Stefan Karl Stefansson dead: LazyTown actor dies aged 43 following battle with cancer". Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  25. "The Meme That Is Helping Cure Cancer". The Odyssey Online. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  26. Valenti, Mark (24 June 2017). "I am Stefan Karl (Robbie Rotten from LazyTown) and I am in the fight of my life against cancer! AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  27. "Stefán Karl Stefánsson". IMDb. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  28. O'Connor, Rory (21 August 2018). "LazyTown: Robbie Rotten actor Stefan Karl Stefansson dead - best TV moments revealed". Sunday Express. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  29. "Stefan Karl Stefansson - 2 Character Images". Behind The Voice Actors.
  30. "Stefan Karl Stefansson Video Game Credits and Biography". MobyGames.
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