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Stefán Karl Stefánsson (1975 – 2018), “LazyTown” actor

by Kirk Fox

Played Robbie Rotten on the popular children’s TV series.

Stefán Karl Stefánsson, the Iceland-born film and theater actor who played the villain Robbie Rotten on the children’s TV series “LazyTown,” died August 21, 2018 of pancreatic cancer according to multiple news sources. He was 43 years old.

Stefánsson announced in October 2016 that he had pancreatic cancer. Mark Valenti, the head writer for “LazyTown,” quickly set up a GoFundMe page to help the actor’s family after he fell too ill to continue working.


 “As Robbie Rotten on LazyTown,” Valenti wrote on the page, Stefánsson “has given laughter to children around the world. He created a foundation to help stop bullying. He is a tireless advocate for special needs children.

“And now Stefán Karl needs our help.”

As of June 29, 2017, the page has raised more than $144,000 – nearly 97 percent of its $150,000 goal.

Stefánsson was born July 10, 1975, in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. He graduated from the Icelandic Academy of Arts in Reykjavik and worked as an actor with the National Theatre of Iceland.

He acted on “LazyTown,” which aired on Nickelodeon and later the Sprout Channel, among others, from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2013 to 2014. He started with “LazyTown” in 1999 when it was a theater production.

See more favorite children’s entertainers in our gallery.

The story centers on Stephanie, 8, who moves to LazyTown to live with her uncle. Stephanie encourages her newfound friends to go outside and play instead of being homebound and playing video games all day. To help spread Stephanie’s message, her uncle, LazyTown Mayor Meanswell, seeks assistance from the town’s superhero, Sportacus, who urges LazyTown’s residents to stay fit and healthy in part by eating “sports candy,” aka fruits and vegetables.

Stefánsson’s character, Robbie Rotten, plots to thwart their efforts. He prefers LazyTowners to be reticent and lazy. Watching the town from his underground lair, Robbie is arguably the busiest person in LazyTown as he tries to put the “lazy” in LazyTown.

Stefánsson’s acting credits also include a number of theater roles. He played the Grinch in the seasonal musical “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” from 2008 to 2015. He did acting or voice acting in more than a dozen film and TV film productions.

In a 2016 interview for Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” feature, Stefánsson took a fan’s question about whether playing the over-the-top villain on “LazyTown” was different from his other roles.

“There is no difference in preparing for Robbie Rotten or any classical serious role,” Stefánsson replied. “Every part you prepare for you have to be honest and truthful and wholly believe that the character exists – otherwise no one will accept your acting.

“Kids are a demanding audience and they KNOW when something is untruthful.”

He is survived by his wife, actress and writer Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir, three daughters, and a son.

We invite you to share condolences for Stefán Karl Stefansson in his Guest Book.

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