Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood: His Journey Into Acting

March 9, 2009 by  

alex-andersson-robbanAlexander Skarsgard of True Blood, who grew up on Götgatsbacken of South Stockholm, comes from a very simple background. This was long before coffee latte and designer stores. “Then there was only antiquarian and angry Finnish drunks on Götgatan,” says Alexander.

The family had almost no money because his mother was not working and his dad, Stellan Skarsgård, had only a low-paying theater salary. His best toy for several years were tea cans which became a drum kit. “It is only when envy comes in as you start to despair,” says Alexander and he aimed at having fun with the little they had until a neighbor came with a radio-controlled car.

He remembers his jealousy of friends where the father was driving a Saab, had a suit and went to work at eight o’clock in the morning returning home by five thirty in the evening. His own father was always naked and drinking red wine with strange artist souls, rehearsing for days and performing late at night. When he came home he was exhausted and perhaps not the ideal family situation, according to Alexander.

Alexander Skarsgård was only eight years old when he debuted as Kalle Nubb in Åke och Hans Värld (Åke and his world), but as he entered adolescence, he became convinced that the public life was not for him. He hated media attention. He did not like strangers looking at him in the street. He wished that people would like him because he was a nice guy, not because they had read about him in a newspaper. He really wanted to become an architect.

During his teen years Alexander had no relationship whatsoever with his parents. He wanted to live his own life. He thought his parents were a burden and revolted by closing them out, they never got him into their life. They tried, but it was difficult because he had decided to turn his back on them. If he was asked “Do you have a girlfriend?” He replied, “See ya.”

For four or five years, until he left home at seventeen, he was in his room with his buddies drinking homemade beer and listening to punk music. He would take off to town, come home in the middle of the night and go to sleep. In the morning he grabbed a sandwich in the kitchen and took off again.

It often happened that Alex ended up in noisy establishments where he often had to defend his friends when they got into trouble. His mood could quickly change. One time his dad, Stellan went and got him from Solna police custody. He was 17 years old. At first Stellan said nothing. He only looked at Alexander, and then his father said: “You are an intelligent man. You know what you did last night and how f***ing stupid it was, so I will not yell at you.” Alexander became anxious and regretted his behavior.

In the military service as a marine, Skarsgård had the time to reflect for 15 months. Two hundred and eighty days in a tent gives one a different perspective on life and he came to some realizations. He missed acting. He was twenty now and mature enough to handle the attention. He moved to Leeds with a friend where they lived in a cellar store without windows and heat to pursue acting. From Leeds, he moved to the theatrical school, Marymount, in New York. There he lived as a border with a 55-year-old Filipino fashion designer named René for six months.

After six months, Alexander moved back to Sweden. He had met a girl in Stockholm. He was in love and decided to move back home to be with her. Two days after he had landed, she finished the relationship.

“F***ing ironic. I had dropped out of school and could not move back.”, Alex lamented, ” New York is a difficult city to be in as a poor student and unfortunate in love. One gets eaten. I was so f***ing miserable. The whole spring was tiring.”

Back home in Sweden, Alexander began to get some film roles for instance Järngänget (The Iron Gang) and Dykaren (The Diver), and a couple of parts in various TV series and he was also involved in a Swedish hospital soap Vita Lögner (White lies). Eventually he was offered the role as John in the award-winning Vingar av Glas (Wings Of Glass). The film was an audience hit and Alex was suddenly a Swedish star. He also received a small role in Ben Stiller’s Zoolander as Meekus, which gave him a place on the Hollywood map. Alexander, however, decided to stay in Sweden and made the successful Swedish movie Hundtricket (The Dog trick).

His agent in Hollywood wanted Alex to come back but he decided to stay in Sweden. He had had a great offer to play Nick in the theatrical production of Edward Albee Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf in the Southern Theater in Stockholm. Eventually moving on to play Leonardo Emilio Hernandez in Lorca Blodigt Bröllop (Bloody Wedding) at the Gothenburg State Theater.alex-albert-lortegapr-photos

Performing in the theater was the part of acting Alexander was least sure of. He knew that he wanted to try a new types of work. He wanted to develop as an actor and the theater scene was perfect place to do it. Another reason Alex loved the stage was that he has always dreamed of becoming a rock star. Since he is tone-deaf, theater is as close to that dream as he can get. “To stand on a stage in front of a live audience is an incredible experience. The direct contact you have with the audience cannot be achieved in film,” Alexander says.

Alexander has also directed. Together with a friend, Björne Larsson, he made the prize-winning short film Att Döda Ett barn (To Kill A child) which has been shown at film festivals. In the movie, Valter Skarsgård, Alexander’s youngest brother plays the leading role and his father, Stellan Skarsgård, narrates. It was shown at both the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and the Cannes Film Festival.

Despite the successes Alexander has had with the series Generation Kill and True Blood, Alexander is a genuinely nice and humble guy who likes to hang out with friends, drink beer and be in the archipelago when he has opportunity. He loves the sea and the country. “I do not want to …[to sound]…cliché but my favorites [things] are going to boat, fish, and lie in front of the fireplace and drink red wine,” says Alexander.


(Photo Credit: Andersson-Robban and Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos)