Alexander Skarsgard Interviewed by Black Book Magazine

December 19, 2009 by  

Alexander SkarsgÃ¥rdIn real life, Alexander Skarsgard, the man behind Eric Northman on True Blood, seems completely separate from his playful but ruthless counterpart. Alex, however, calls Eric a “weird reflection” of his personality. He discusses what he enjoys about playing the 1,000-year old Viking vampire, how he feels about True Blood fans, and what it was like working on Generation Kill and Zoolander.

Alex acted as a child in Sweden, but ended up quitting because he was young and didn’t want the fame. It was not until he was a little older that he took acting seriously as the kind of work he might like to do:

“[My parents] said, ‘If you’re not passionate about this, if you don’t like all the attention, just do what you want to do.’ And I did for seven years. And then when I was 20, like most people that age, I started thinking about what to do with my future and potential careers and obviously acting came up again. I realized that I had a strong urge to be on a stage again. I missed acting and I also knew that the fact I quit had nothing to do with the craft, with the work itself, it had to do with everything around it. So I figured it might be different now that I was 20 as opposed to when I was 13.”

His first job in the US, a small role on Zoolander as the model Meekus, fell into his lap because of his father, actor Stellan Skarsgard, whose manager thought Alex might like to be in the movie and set up an audition for him:

“It’s not like I was in LA trying to get work. I was on vacation hanging out with my family and two weeks later I found myself in Tribecca in Manhattan working with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell. I flew back to Stockholm right after that and spent another three years in Sweden and then I came back to the states. I was a little naïve when I came back because I was like, ‘Piece of cake you go in, you read, you get the job, you go do the job.’ But then I faced reality and realized it’s not that easy.”

His breakthrough came with the HBO miniseries Generation Kill. One of his favorite moments from playing Marine Sgt. Brad Colbert is towards the end of the journey when the Ice Man goes flying through the field. Alex saw that as a childlike moment for him, when he realized he didn’t have to be so strong all the time and could just enjoy the moment. When he met Colbert in person, they talked for hours, and Alex was proud of his reaction to the series:

“He seemed to like it.  It would be tough for him because it was personal. Everything I say on the show, talking about his ex-girlfriend, and hookers and all that stuff, it’s real, it’s quotes from real life.  He never asked for this to become a huge HBO series.  This is stuff he said in front of his men, inside the humvee, and yes, he knew that there was a journalist back there, but after a couple of days you forget that the guy’s a journalist.  When you’re tired, and you’ve been on the road for a couple days it’s hard to censor yourself.  But I think that he liked what we did and felt that it was a portrait of what they went through out there. That meant everything to me to hear that.”

Going from playing the Ice Man to playing Eric who is the polar opposite and likes to be the center of attention gave Alex a lot of creative energy to work from. He uses his own feelings and experiences to develop every character he portrays, and says that they become like a mirror of his personality.

One thing he loves about Eric is the way he interacts with Bill, played by Stephen Moyer:

“I think that it’s so much fun for Eric to toy with Bill, because Bill is so serious, he’s so young and naive in a way, and Eric enjoys that. Bill’s so, ‘Oh, I’m in love and I’m going to save Sookie,’ and to Eric, Bill’s not even two-hundred years old, so to Eric he’s just a little baby. Eric knows he’s in control and he’s in power and he really enjoys all those moments and seeing Bill upset and angry, because to Eric it’s not a real threat.”

Alex has seen just how devoted True Blood fans can be and says that he tries to see it as a positive thing by appreciating how much they love the show that he’s a part of. When he was in Shreveport filming Straw Dogs, some people drove several hundred miles to see him and get an autograph. Being in the spotlight and having people speculating about his private life, like whether he might be dating True Blood costar Evan Rachel Wood or Kate Bosworth, doesn’t bother Alex that much anymore:

“Even though I’ve just become famous here in the states, I’ve dealt with the fact that people recognize me or look at me wherever I go and start rumors about me and my private life before. I’m already used to all that stuff. I’ve learned not to worry about it.”

He also doesn’t allow himself to be phased when things don’t always go his way professionally. He auditioned many times for the role as Marvel comic book hero, Thor, but it ended up going to Chris Hemsworth. Alex was flattered that he was even considered for such a great part:

“I know that they considered me for the part and I got, from what I understand, very close to getting it and that’s amazing because I know how many guys they look at for a part like that. I was very humbled by that. It was a great experience and you know you win some you lose some, of course I wanted to do that but…”

Even during his down time he remains down-to-earth as he prefers houses parties versus clubs.  As he states in Sweden they don’t go out top clubs until 1 am in Sweden, but in L.A. everyone goes out at 10 and then the bars close at 1:30 and you have to drive. He states prefers to stay in when you don’t have to drive and you can hang out as late as you want.

It’s great to see that Alex has a very mature perspective on life.  He has certainly made an impression on people with his work these past couple of years, and looks like his success will only continue in the future!


(Photo credit: Chris Mauszynski / MOMENT)