Alexander Skarsgard Isn’t Your Typical Celebrity

September 6, 2009 by  

Alexander SkarsgardThose people who know the name Alexander Skarsgard can point out a few roles that he has played, but he is most known for his portrayal of Eric Northman in HBO’s True Blood. It seems that he has received his final breakthrough role to make himself a household name in the United States. Erik Ohlsson met up with the new born Hollywood star as he picked up his own laundry.

Alexander Skarsgard is in Shreveport, La., filming his latest project, “Straw Dogs.” He climbed inside a purple-red Toyota Prius and took the interviewer sightseeing, being sure to mention that there are more than 600 churches in the area.  Due to the economy, Louisiana is heavily struck by unemployment. In hopes of improving the state’s economy, the state legislature decided to give movie companies big reductions in taxes if they film in Louisiana. “Straw Dogs” is being filmed in Shreveport and surrounding areas. Alexander has one of the leading roles of the new version in Sam Peckinpah’s drama. The original came out in 1971 and was heavily debated due to excessive violence. Alexander mentions that the newer version will also turn bloody.

Everyone calls him Alex and soon the interviewer finds them heading off to have some lunch. On the radio is a local country station and Alexander is quick to mention that he has worked very hard on his accent for this particular role. He finds it useful to listen to country “but sometimes it gets painful, some songs are really bad,” he says.

“I have a dialect coach to get the right ‘twang.’ The movie will take place in Mississippi. I am a hillbilly and speak with an accent, but I have been to the university for a year or so and gotten rid of the worst part.”

They sit down in the dining hall at La Superior and Alexander continues to tell the interviewer about filming with a lot of enthusiasm.

“I play Charlie that grew up in a small town in Mississippi. He is the star of the school’s American football team; somewhat king of the town. Charlie gets a scholarship to study at the University of Louisiana to play football. The road to NFL seemed to be wide open. But then he suffers from a knee injury and has to go home after a year.”

When Charlie returns home, he earns his living as a carpenter. One day he has to renovate a house bought by his old girlfriend from his youth. She is working to get a Hollywood career but has temporarily returned to town with her husband, a peaceful scriptwriter. Charlie’s ex-girlfriend is played by Kate Bosworth, known from her role in “Superman Returns.” Lane, the husband, is played by James Marsden.

“It really hurts Charlie to see their relationship. He looks upon his ex-girl’s husband as a real wimp,” Alexander mentions.

The director wanted a definite contrast between ex-athlete Charlie and the book-loving script writer. Due to this, Alexander has been in the gym training extra hard to put on more muscles.

“I put on about 17 lbs before filming. But I am built rather lightly, so I will never turn into a real muscle man,” he tells the interviewer.

Aside from adding more muscle, Skarsgard learned how to do carpentry. Well, he at least  learned to fake it pretty well. He also had to get used to working outside when temperatures were more than a 100 degrees.

“It is only something you have to get used to. You get soaking wet, but I am playing a sweaty carpenter so that is ok.”

The actor is running into a sticky situation, battling two projects at the same time on two different continents. While filming “Straw Dogs,” he is also working in Sweden with the last part of Johan King’s “Puss.” Filming started on the same day, so it took some effort to work out both schedules.

“Last weekend was messy. I flew from here via Atlanta to Stockholm. And then a domestic flight to Visby and taxi to Farosund, where the last scenes were recorded. The travel took 23 hours. But all fatigue was erased when we started to record. It is wonderful to work with Johan, very secure, he has every detail under control.”

“Puss” is about a relationship drama revolving around some young adults in Stockholm that operate a theatre. Alex describes his character as “slippery as a fucking eel.”

“A city guy that drives vintage sports cards and is interested in design from the 60s. He deceives his closest friends and is always in trouble. Pretty far away from Charlie in “Straw Dogs.” Since the characters are so different it makes it easier for me to keep them apart.”

It seems that lots of good things are going for Alexander. He is getting a lot of good criticism for his part in HBO’s True Blood. Though Alex seems to credit the director, Alan Ball, with a lot of credit surely the cast and the way they interact has something to do with it.

Alan Ball, the director, is extremely talented. He uses all the tricks in the book but he is never stepping over the line when things get too obvious or silly. I think that is why True Blood appeals to so many.

With season three coming up, Alexander Skarsgard got a big raise when he signed up. He doesn’t want to reveal how much but he said it was enough for him to seriously start looking for a house in Los Angeles.

“I want to live in Venice Beach. That is one of few places in Los Angeles where things are at walking distance. Los Angeles is a weird town and it has taken some time to adjust. And I will always have a least one foot left in Sweden. But last time I landed in LA, in the beginning of August after spending some weeks in Sweden, I felt as if for the first time that this was home to me.”

True Blood is helping fill up his bank account and HBO’s hit “Generation Kill” is helping him with the film offers he is now receiving. During filming breaks of “Straw Dogs,” Alex is busy reading and pondering manuscripts that his agent sends him. Though he likes his role as Viking vampire Eric Northman, Alex feels most strongly about his role as Sergeant Bradley Colbert in “Generation Kill.”

“What makes “Generation Kill” so intense is that it doesn’t make any attempts to squeeze in a love story or any other main Hollywood themes,” he says. Alex has received a lot of good criticism for his interpretation of Sergeant Colbert.

The best reward is that lots of men and women that have been to Iraq have contacted us and think that we are telling a truthful story of what is going on down there.”

It also helped that Alexander is a real sergeant. He did military service in the Swedish marines, one of the toughest trainings in the Swedish military.

“I was a restless 19 year old that wanted to do the service. I wanted something challenging and that would give me something in return. And it felt as if I needed a break from the safe and comfortable life in Soder, Stockholm.”

He has nothing positive to say about the political game behind the war, adding, “the invasion was an obvious mistake and based on lies.” With all of that, Alexander is far from the image people get of Hollywood actors. He’s far from vain or self-centered. He does his own laundry, doesn’t expect VIP treatment at restaurants and when he meets a Washington correspondent, it almost seems as if he is more interested in discussing President Barack Obama’s troubles with reforming the healthcare system than his own career.

“Yes, of course I try to be updated with the news, as much as possible, even though I travel a lot. And I try not to miss ‘Meet The Press,’” he says.

Even with all of his hard work, he does acknowledge that he is part of the Skarsgard clan. It’s hard to forget your father is called Stellan and is one of the few internationally established Swedish actors. He also has a brother that is frequently appearing in lead roles in Swedish movies.

“I have nothing to compare with. I have always been a Skarsgard, isn’t that so? Sure, I have grown up with theatre and movies, but I never looked upon acting as a career choice when I grew up. And I feel that where I am now, I have gotten by my own force.”

Alex and the interviewer have to hurry back to the hotel. The crew is meeting together to participate in a Shreveport event. The guitar hero James Burton has arranged an international gala dinner to collect money for music education for school children. The event will take place in Municipal Hall where Elvis Presley did his first performance on Oct. 15, 1954. The 6′ 4″ actor will mingle backstage at the gala then sit down in the front row with his acting friends, happy with life. As the night goes on, he’ll collect a cold beer from the bar and relax; tomorrow is a free day of shooting. When the interviewer takes a taxi back to the hotel, he asks the driver if he knows who Alexander Skarsgard is.

“Mr. Skarsgard, oh yeah. Is he Scandinavian, Danish, oh Swedish! He has made Shreveport better known in the world and he is a fine young actor. Tell him that!”

It seems Alex is becoming more popular by the day; one taxi driver at a time.

SOURCE: translations by skarsgardfans

(Photo credit: Chris Maluzynsk via