Beginning in 1907 as an extra, Gösta Ekman officialy started his acting career four years later, in 1911. From the onset, the actor gained a remarkable reputation for his capacity of being skilfully versatile; besides acting in dramas, comedies and tragedies, he could play all kinds of characters, becoming unrecognizable with makeup. He was also amazingly prolific, working in several productions and in different positions at the same time. While he was constantly working on the stage, he was also the administrative director of several private theaters in different periods of his life, like the Konserthusteatern and the Oscarsteatern. From 1931 to 1935, he was the director of the Vasateatern, where he directed plays, and played the lead in several stage productions. During this time, he was also the director of the Gothenburg City Theatre. All his professional life was punctuated by a busy schedule, that for his part was firstly moved by an unconditional love for the theatre and the dramatic arts. Being so busy meant that the actor didn't had any time to enjoy a personal life.
Gösta Ekman also became a famous and renowned movie actor. He begun his career precisely the same time as the emerging world cinema, and the actor was instrumental in the development of the movie industry in his country. One of his first movies was the 1912 silent drama Trädgårdsmästaren, a thirty-four minutes short directed by Victor Sjöström. In the following decade, the actor would achieve international recognition with the 1926 movie Faust — where he played the title character —, directed by legendary German filmmaker F. W. Murnau, an adaptation of the literary epic poem authored by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, based on an ancient German legend about a man that does a deal with the Devil in exchange for endless power and knowledge. The role of Mephisto was played by notorious German actor Emil Jannings, that later would have his career permanently ruined as a consequence of his association with the nazis.
During production for Faust, the actor — that by this time was also feeling the weight of his workload on his shoulders — was introduced to cocaine, that he began to use regularly, to help him in the execution of all his professional activities. Unfortunately, the drug and the addiction he would later develop would be the primary reason for his untimely demise. Sadly, fame came at a high cost for the actor; as his reputation grew, his workload increased proportionally, progressively becoming more and more unbearable for him to fulfill all his obligations, which gradually increased his necessity of drug use.
After a glorious and overwhelmingly busy thirty years career in theatre and cinema, Gösta Ekman died at forty-seven years old, in 12 January, 1938, as the result of a severe work schedule, exacerbated by substance abuse. Despite a brief existence, he enjoyed a prominently successful career, that made him — thanks to a brutal workload, that paradoxically helped to project him as the primary talent of his generation, as well as being responsible for all the distresses that would eventually made him dependent on cocaine, the primary factor for his precocious death — one of the most memorable and legendary acting stars of his country. In total, he appeared in forty-five movies, and was involved in more than one hundred theatre productions.
Generally, to distinguish the two actors with the same name, Gösta Ekman, the elder, is referred as Gösta Ekman senior, while his grandson is referred as Gösta Ekman junior. Nevertheless, their full names are entirely different. While Gösta Ekman senior's complete name is Frans Gösta Viktor Ekman, his grandson's full name was Hans Gösta Gustaf Ekman.