Icelandic actor Stefan Karl Stefansson, best known for his role as “Robbie Rotten” from the television show “LazyTown”, has died at age 43 from cancer.
Mr. Stefansson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016, but said it had been removed with surgery, often sharing his treatment and progress with fans on social media. However, he announced in March that the cancer had returned and that it was terminal.
Stefansson announced the news on Twitter, posting: “It’s not until they tell you you’re going to die soon that you realise how short life is. Time is the most valuable thing in life because it never comes back. And whether you spend it in the arms of a loved one or alone in a prison cell, life is what you make of it. Dream big.”
The Icelandic TV show was produced from 2004 to 2007, with more episodes released in 2013 and 2014. It follows the pink-haired protagonist Stephanie and her ally Sportacus, as they attempt to improve the town that they live in. The character of Robbie Rotten, the show’s antagonist, often tried to foil their plans, preferring to remain lazy.
In a 2014 episode of LazyTown, titled “Robbie’s Dream Team”, the villain designs three clones of himself (though not with the same intellectual abilities) in order to catch Sportacus. Robbie then later breaks into song, titled “We Are Number One”, which became a popular internet meme only two years later.
Stefansson himself even acknowledged the popular meme and thanked everyone for their support in his fight against cancer. He also hosted a livestream performance of “We Are Number One”, featuring himself, the original cast of the clones, and the song’s composer, Mani Svavarsson.
In June, Stefansson’s wife Steinunn Olina announced the actor’s cancer was in its final stages. Olina posted a tribute to her husband on Tuesday, and said the family would follow his wishes to scatter his remains at sea.
“Stefan’s family wants to express their gratitude for the support and warmth received in recent years, and to express their deepest sympathy to the many friends and fans of Stefan Karl,” she wrote.
During his career, Stefansson showed he could play a convincing villain, playing the lead role in ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ in US theatres from 2008 to 2015. However, he was most loved for his role as Robbie Rotten, which proved his character’s popularity with the “We Are Number One” meme. You will always be number one to us, Mr. Stefansson.
Rest in peace, Robbie Rotten.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: Sprout