Alexander Skarsgard Discusses Fame, Generation Kill, and True Blood

October 27, 2009 by  

Alexander-Skarsg-rd-alexander-skarsgard-7963366-384-576With his role as Eric Northman on True Blood, Swedish heartthrob Alexander Skarsgard has been catapulted into the spotlight, with a passionate group of fans to rival any other. On the show, he plays an 1,000-year old Viking vampire with a bad boy edge, a cool sense of humor, and a whole lot of hotness. In an extensive interview with the UK blog Unreality Primetime, Alex discusses his acting pedigree and his work on two major HBO projects, True Blood and Generation Kill.

The oldest son of renowned actor Stellan Skarsgard, Alex began working in Swedish films and television at age 7. Uncomfortable with the recognition he received, he gave up acting until he was 20. Feeling more prepared for fame, he began studying theatre in New York and got hooked on the profession. In addition to his father, two of his brothers are also actors in Sweden, so it seems to run in the family!

Like some of his True Blood costars, Alex didn’t know what to expect from a vampire show, but he was very interested to work with a talented storyteller like creator Alan Ball. He probably had no idea what he was getting himself into when he took on the role of Area 5 Sheriff and Fangtasia owner, Eric Northman. With it, he inherited an entire team of shippers from the books who want Eric to be with Sookie and bring to life some favorite scenes from Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series. Alex has read the first few books and intends to finish the rest during the break from filming.

Alex explains how Eric’s 1,000 years as a vampire have made him very confident and somewhat bored with humanity:

“I think he’s got huge confidence, and also he doesn’t waste time. He’s been around for that long, so he cuts to the chase and gets down to business. And it’s hard to impress a guy like that, because he’s seen it all. That’s why he’s intrigued by Sookie because there’s something new here, something interesting and different about her that he can’t really put his finger on.”

From his point of view, Alex thinks that vampires are so fascinating to people because of their complex natures–they are beautiful and eternal, while dangerous at the same time:

“Immortality and eternal youth are so attractive, yet the fact that vampires are also lethal predators who could kill you in an instant creates great platforms for drama, I think. You have that duality. An encounter with a vampire could let you live forever, or you could become vampire food.”

Alex also talked about getting immersed in his Marine character, Sgt. Brad Colbert, in the HBO miniseries Generation Kill. He had some personal experience to inform him about the role, having been in the Swedish Marines to fulfill his country’s mandatory service requirement. The goal in making Generation Kill was to have it be as true-to-life as possible, with Marines consulting and involved in the process every step of the way:

“One of the actors is a real Marine, and plays himself on the show. We had two other guys from First Reconnaissance with us for the duration of the shoot, which was seven months in Africa. They were behind the camera for every single take every single day, making sure that everything was legit and was real, and what we say and what we do on the show happened for real. It was very important to us to show exactly what happened, and not make it into a Hollywood series or movie where everything is dramatised, and things are added or removed. We just wanted to tell it exactly as it was, and I hope we succeeded in doing that.”

Alex did not have the opportunity to visit with the real-life Brad Colbert before filming to gain insights, but that actually enabled him to create his own unique portrayal. When they returned from Africa, a fellow soldier of Colbert’s arranged a meeting for them. Alex calls it an amazing experience:

“I was with that character for a year. It’s his life. All the quotes and things I say on the show are his life. When I talk about my ex-girlfriend, and hookers in Australia, these are things that he actually said. And he never asked for this to become a huge HBO series, so I didn’t know how he would react when I met him. But I have a tremendous amount of respect and love for the man, so it was very important for me that he would be proud of what we did and how I portrayed him. And he didn’t kill me, so I guess I did okay.”

The camaraderie between the actors helped create that group dynamic crucial to true Marine life. Spending so much time with those guys and working together translated into the finished product of Generation Kill. It probably contributed to the miniseries going on to receive great critical acclaim and award nominations. Alex seems very proud of what they accomplished with the show, and is pleased by how the Marine community embraced it for its gritty realism.

The decision to portray such distinctly separate people like Sgt. Colbert and Eric Northman was intentional on Alex’s part. The challenge of a new character makes him excited and helps his creativity. Hopefully, after his recent work on Straw Dogs which he spent the last couple of months filming in Shreveport, LA, he will be ready to return to True Blood in December and throw himself back into Eric. Alan Ball will surely have many new challenges in store for him!


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