VIDEO: Nathan Barr on the Craft of Composing

December 11, 2009

Nathan-Barr-Music-AwardTrue Blood‘s award winning composer, Nathan Barr, spoke at the MIMICON panel at the Renaissance Hotel after winning his Hollywood Music in Media Award (HMMA) for True Blood. He was joined on the panel by fellow composers Jim Dooley, Wendy & Lisa, John Ottman, and Christopher Young.  A video of this panel discussion, recently posted on YouTube, gives a fascinating inside look at the craft that goes into setting the tone for the show we love the most.

Nathan says that composing for television and film is “not just about music ever” but is “always in service of the picture.” He told the panel that he got into scoring for film and television:

…because I love movies so much. I wanted to be in movies so much and music was my way in and my contribution to the storytelling process.

In addition to talking about some of his other work, Nathan told the panel audience how he got the opportunity to work with Alan Ball on the score for True Blood:

I got into the room for a meeting because they temped in my score to Hostel, and I watched the pilot before I went in for the meeting. And I went into the meeting and they said “We really like the way your Hostel score is working as temp” and I just thought “You know, I’m just going to be totally honest with them,” and so I said, “I’m really flattered that you guys like that, but it doesn’t work at all in your show” and they loved that. And so…you know, Ball‘s the kind of guy who’s open to lots of suggestions, so the situation was right where I literally threw out their temp which was my stuff and started from scratch with a completely different sound and that worked to my benefit.

Though directors or producers can sometimes be difficult and though often the people who hire him to work on a score have no idea how to explain what they want from him, he still loves his job:

I get to actually work and create in the thing I love the most in my life, and I hope they bury me in a theatre. I’ll go to eternity watching movies and this is my contribution to movies.

Certainly, True Blood fans are lucky to have him working at HBO on the show and we wish him continued success for many many years to come.

SOURCE: CW3PRVideo on YouTube

(Photo Credit:  Nathan Barr Facebook)

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Sookie Stackhouse: A Tale of Three Suitors

December 8, 2009

Sookie StackhouseIn prepping for a possible story last week, I was reading a recent article on vampires in which a college professor, Dr. Thomas Greene of Northern Essex Community College was commenting on the vampire myth in popular culture. He said “Look at True Blood. Take out the vampires, and it’s Jane Eyre.”

Now I love speculating and looking for hidden meanings, and so reading that article got me thinking about literary comparisons for my favorite show.

I remember reading Jane Eyre during my Master’s program, and that plotline doesn’t fit with True Blood‘s story nearly as well, I feel, as do the books of Jane Austen. I’ve spent the better part of a week thinking through all the potential comparisons one could make, and I’ve narrowed the choices down to three which I believe are the most applicable to Sookie‘s life–Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma.

ERIC NORTHMAN AS PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’S MR. DARCY

normal_EricNorthman__001_HBOI feel that the most compelling comparison to Jane Austen’s work is that of Pride and Prejudice. The roles of her suitors are easy to identify, to my mind, though I know Bill fans are not going to be happy with what I’m going to say.

I truly believe that we will find out Bill Compton is the Wickham who charms her. Lizzie is convinced at the beginning that Wickham is the good guy, but later she realizes that she has been deceived and that the whole basis for their relationship is a lie. We already have hints in the show that Bill‘s motives for coming to Bon Temps and for getting to know Sookie are not what they have seemed, and those who have read the novels know that if the show follows the books, then Bill fans are going to need to brace themselves for some ugly truths to be revealed in the coming seasons.

In Pride and Prejudice, Wickham also tells Lizzie lies about his rival Mr. Darcy, convincing her that Darcy is proud, arrogant, rude, unfeeling, heartless, and jealous. I see definite parallels here again. Bill has convinced Sookie of exactly those things about his rival, Eric Northman. And just as Lizzie comes to see that all of those assumptions were wrong, we’re already getting hints that Eric does not necessarily fit the villain image we’ve been handed from the beginning. There is goodness, kindness, and deep feeling in him, and his pride and arrogance, like Darcy’s, are perhaps instead simply an awareness of his own true superiority over others. He keeps his emotions very private, just as Darcy does, and he hides his true altruistic motives, just as Darcy does. We see this most clearly in the relationship between Eric and Godric, but Eric is beginning to show those characteristics to Sookie as well, and we can see her confusion as she tries to reconcile the picture she’s been given of Eric as a liar and a bully and the actions he took to save her from the Fellowship of the Sun as well as the depth of his feelings for Godric. That inner turmoil is only going to get more conflicting for Sookie in the seasons to come.

Turning to the Sookie Stackhouse novels, I see even more shades of Pride and Prejudice, as Eric does things for Sookie unasked without expecting anything in return (replacing her gravel driveway, buying her a new coat, replacing her broken door and cell phone), just as Darcy does for Lizzie. Eric is also always there in Sookie‘s hour of need, just as Darcy is. And in the last novel, when he does not come to save her and she lashes out at him for not being there, he tells her that she will understand why later. This scene reminded me very much of when Lizzie tells Darcy that her sister has run away with Wickham and Darcy leaves immediately, giving Lizzie the impression that he has abandoned her because of her family’s shame. However, just as we later find that Darcy has been orchestrating a rescue behind the scenes, I truly believe that in Book 10, we will discover that Eric was not there to rescue Sookie because he was doing something much more significant for her safety.

By the end of Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie and Wickham are able to make peace and become friends, but she will never truly trust him again. I believe that this is what Sookie and Bill will come to by the end of the series as well. In Book 9, Sookie is able to look at him and see the man she had loved, but I don’t believe that they will be lovers again.

BILL COMPTON AS PERSUASION’S CAPTAIN WENTWORTH

billHowever, while the Pride and Prejudice plotline seems to me the most likely way for Sookie‘s story to play out, I could be wrong. It is also possible that Sookie‘s story follows Austen’s Persuasion instead, in which case, there is a total reversal of all that I have said.

In Persuasion, the main character, Anne, is convinced by others to turn down the marriage proposal of Wentworth, a man she truly loves. She then comes to regret that decision, but she cannot reconcile with him. She is presented with an alternative suitor, William Elliot, who is charming and humorous and who has a wicked past which he hides from her and those lies eventually come out, ruining their chances for romance.

At the end of Season 2, Sookie still has not given Bill an answer to his proposal. Will she be convinced over the course of Season 3 to turn him down? If so, is Eric the charismatic suitor who charms her socks off, but later is revealed as a lying and manipulative snake?

With this scenario, Bill fans can take heart, because in the end, Anne and Wentworth come together at last, finally telling one another how they truly feel and determined never to be parted again.

SAM MERLOTTE AS EMMA’S MR. KNIGHTLY

Sam MerlotteFinally, I have one other possible Jane Austen novel which leaves our heroine with none of the above. In the novel Emma, the main character is presented with several suitors, but in the end she realizes that the man she truly loves is Mr. Knightly, the man who has been her friend and confident all along, a man she thought of as a part of her family. Emma does not realize her love for Knightly until she thinks that she is going to lose him to another woman.

Given this plotline, there is only one man in Sookie‘s life who could fit Knightly’s shoes–her boss, Sam Merlotte. We already know that Sam loves Sookie. Sookie relies on him, she trusts him, she confides in him, and he is always there to help her when she needs him most. He was even willing to risk his life for her, twice.  Could it be that Sam turns out to be the love of Sookie‘s life after all?

Whichever potential storyline you favor, I also know that both Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball love twists and surprises. Like True Blood fans everywhere, I cannot wait to see how the story unfolds. Rather than labeling myself Team Bill or Team Eric (or even the dark horse Team Sam), I instead am Team Sookie. Just as I root for Jane Austen’s heroines to win the day, I am rooting for Sookie, whatever man she chooses.

Continue the discussion and share your views on this article in the forum here.

SOURCE: The Eagle-Tribune and the works of Jane Austen

(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)

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Alexander Skarsgård Interviewed by France’s Générique[S] Magazine

December 7, 2009

Alexander SkarsgårdAlan Ball‘s True Blood vampire drama series has captivated audiences worldwide. Alexander Skarsgård spoke with Pierre Langlais of France’s Générique[S] Culture Séries Magazine about his work with HBO and about bringing Eric Northman, the deadly handsome Viking vampire sheriff of Louisiana’s Area 5, to life.

Alex says that though at first, Alan Ball had planned for the Swedish actor “to give Eric a strong accent, exotic compared to other vampires, who all have a southern accent,” they reconsidered that idea because the 1000-year-old Eric, “alive for centuries would not have an accent, but altogether a vast linguistic knowledge.”  Alex went on to say that he figured that Eric must speak at least “three dozen languages” including English. He stated that:

“I thought that Eric could speak excellent English, but we placed here and there some phrases in Swedish, especially when he spoke to Pam, his partner – Kristin Bauer, who plays her, does not understand a word of what I say or the correct responses, but she fakes it well.”

One of the things Alex says that he loves about True Blood is the struggle vampires are going through in order to fit in with the rest of society.  He says “one easily sympathizes with their troubles, their doubts, their feelings because they are ultimately identical to humans and how they feel.”  Alex says that it’s impossible to act in metaphors, so the references must be given as a subtle subtext.

Season 2 of True Blood is just beginning to air in France, and Alex discussed the differences between the first and second seasons for his character:

“In season 1, Eric is a secondary character. You don’t know much about him. He is only Bill‘s “bad boss.” In the second season, he becomes more dense, and we understand that it is much more than that. He has a sensitive side, is passionate, and can be a valuable friend. He does not like many people, but to those he loves, he is very devoted.”

He also tells Générique[S] that while True Blood‘s first season was an introduction to the Sookie-verse, with Season 2, the writers had finished the set up and thus were much more free to create fantastic storylines.  Those of us who have already seen Season 2 on HBO know that French viewers should get ready for a wild ride.

Speaking about the vampire society, Alex explains that:

“It is a very hierarchical society. The relationships between vampires are not clearly defined barriers that people would think beyond. A key component of this organization is the bond between a vampire and his maker, Eric and Godric. Godric is his father, his brother, his best friend…”

As for insights into his character, Alex says that in order to play Eric, he thought about “what knowledge, experience and wisdom of someone who has been alive for 1,000 years would have in the impact on those around him.” He tells Générique[S]:

“Someone as strong and as experienced as Eric did not even need to work hard to show his strength. He has only to whisper and people listen and obey. I was inspired by a documentary about lions that I saw on TV. The way the male moves, confident, graceful, calm and quietly menacing. Make a wrong move and you’re dead … In his heart, Eric is a lion, an animal.”

French fans have a lot to look forward to as True Blood‘s Season 2 unfolds on Orange Cinémax, and getting to know a lot more about the multi-layered Viking vampire sheriff is just one aspect of the story that is sure to keep them coming back for more each week.

SOURCE:  Translated from Générique[S] Culture Séries Magazine

(Photo Credit: HBO Inc.)

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True Blood in Top 10 Searched TV Shows of 2009

December 4, 2009

True Blood CastAOL has announced the Top 10 list for their most searched TV shows of 2009 and, in a list dominated by reality shows, Alan Ball‘s True Blood HBO vampire drama series was number 10!

Congratulations to all the writers, cast and crew!

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the forum area.

SOURCE: OK Magazine

(Photo credit: Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media)

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Stephen Moyer to Host Friends Without a Border Gala Event

December 2, 2009

Stephen MoyerOn December 10th, True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) will be one of the celebrity hosts at the First Annual Friends Without a Border Gala benefiting Cambodia’s Angkor Hospital for Children, founded in 1995 by photographer Kenro Izu.

The event will take place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. During the event, there will be an auction of works from National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry as well as several other extraordinary photographers to help raise money for the charity. Tickets range from $300-8000, and for an additional $500 donation, guests will receive a museum-quality copy of the auction catalog.

According to event organizers, there will be a silent auction with cocktails from 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM followed by a Video Presentation, Live Auction, Hollywood Domino, Musical Performances and After-party from 8:15 PM – 1:00 AM.

According to Friends Without a Border:

One child out of 15 dies before the age of five in Cambodia.  This number jumps to one out of nine in rural areas. This is due primarily to limited access to quality and affordable medical care and insufficient knowledge of preventive care. The Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) offers comprehensive pediatric care to every child that walks through its doors. On average, 400 children arrive at AHC every day in need of treatment. Additionally, numerous outreach programs to treat and educate, including HIV/AIDS/Homecare, reach hundreds of thousands of children and their families in rural villages. AHC is the second largest HIV/AIDS facility in the country. As an officially recognized teaching hospital, AHC staff has trained thousands of healthcare workers, who will help shape the future of care for the children. AHC research has also been published in internationally peer-reviewed medical journals, affecting and effecting policy and procedure in the country and beyond. Since opening in 1999, Angkor Hospital for Children has provided about three quarters of a million child treatments.

Other celebrity hosts include Ali Larter, Hayes MacArthur, Amaury Nolasco, Anne Hathaway, Eva Longoria Parker, Jennifer Morrison, Josh Jackson, Kate Hudson, Molly Sims, Paula Patton, Robin Thicke, Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane.

If you would like to attend the event you can contact Mayanna Prak by e-mailing her at mayanna@fwab.org or calling 323-843-2870.  You can view the invite here.

Want to get into a deeper discussion about this article?  Let others know and join them on our forum. Click here to be taken to the discussion area on our forum for this article.

SOURCES: Friends Without a Border and photojournalist Karl Grobl’s blog

(Photo Credit: VMAN Magazine via JustJared)

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True Blood Twitter Hosts Bites for Blood Drive

December 1, 2009

b4bOn Thursday, December 3rd, the True Blood players on Twitter are hosting a one night only event, Bites for Blood, the first ever virtual blood drive held on Twitter. Their goal is to raise awareness for the American Red Cross through virtual kissing and biting booths manned by character favorites.

Participants simply:

  • Choose the human or vampire you’d like to have kiss or bite you.
  • Click on their badge.
  • By clicking, you will be directed back to Twitter where you’ll tweet your support and receive a kiss or bite from the character you chose.
  • The page will remain open until Sunday, December 5th at 9pm CDT so that you can continue donating drops to Bites for Blood. It’s an easy and fun way to show support for the Red Cross. And if it inspires you to take the next step and make a real life blood donation or contribution to the Red Cross, then even better.

In addition to raising awareness, the True Blood Twitter players encourage their fans to give blood or make a direct donation to the Red Cross with your credit card or PayPal account.

The players have set a goal of reaching 500 thousand tweets supporting the Red Cross.  However, if you clicked but haven’t gotten a quick response, don’t worry.  The players say:

Believe me, we’re doing our best to kiss and bite everyone we can. Unfortunately, due to Twitter’s API limitations, we’re only allowed 150 tweets per hour. Chances are, the character you’re waiting for a kiss from ran out of tweets. But don’t worry. We’re keeping track and will try to get back to you once we get our tweets back.

In order to participate in the event, you must have a Twitter account and go to the Bites For Blood Drive page here. You can support this event and the Red Cross by sharing the link on Facebook as well. Twitter users can also follow @RedCross on Twitter.

SOURCE: True Blood Twitter

(Image credit: True Blood Twitter)

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Vampire-Themed Wedding Shocks UK Registrar

November 29, 2009

truebloodlipsNigel and Alex Harvard from Surbiton, Surrey knew they didn’t want a “big white wedding,” but registrar Anne Wood wasn’t quite prepared for the ceremony they planned instead.  Alex arrived in a red and black dress, and the couple were both wearing fangs.

And if marrying two vampires wasn’t strange enough, the guests arrived in costume as well.  The registrar told reporters:

“I had no idea what the couple had planned before the ceremony.

It was only when I saw a skeleton and a group of witches in the car park that I knew it wasn’t going to be a conventional wedding.

It is a good job I am not of a nervous disposition as one of the witnesses was dressed as a werewolf, complete with huge hairy hands and a full head mask with fur and red eyes.

I could see him in the corner of my eye throughout the ceremony.”

The couple had to remove their fangs in order to make their vows since witnesses were having trouble understanding what was said.  Otherwise, the couple stayed in full costume throughout the entire ceremony, and red wine rather than Champagne was used for the wedding toast.

Bride Alex said that the theme was Nigel’s idea, and she was thrilled that the guests got into the spirit of the event to make their special day unique.

SOURCE: Telegraph.co.uk

(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)

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Alexander Skarsgård in Sweden’s Metro Magazine

November 28, 2009

MetroCover111-copyTrue Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård recently spoke with Sweden’s Metro Magazine, in which he talks about his role as Eric Northman, the Vampire sheriff, discusses his acting career in general, and addresses some of the tabloid rumors that have come along with his increased fame. The folks at AlexSkarsgård.net translated the article.

According to Alex, he’s trying to settle in to life in Los Angeles and is looking for an apartment in Venice Beach close to his friends and costars, Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) and Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse).  Alex says that he and Stephen have gotten to be close friends during filming and the two of them get along very well:

Stephen is one of the crew that I work the most with, so we’ve really gotten to know each other. He is bloody funny, wicked British humor, relaxed as hell. A very good friend.”

Unlike his vampire alter ego, Alex has a tan from life in L.A., and he says:

“It’s one of the few areas where you actually can walk around. I grew up in Söder and I’m used to having my friends living some blocks away and that you meet up at the regular places and I miss it. So I will try to re-create a mini-Söder in Venice.”

Alex spoke a lot about some of his other acting work outside of Alan Ball‘s True Blood HBO vampire dramaseries. According to Alex, he was the first person to record his lines for the Swedish animated film Metropia. However, he says that the first time he saw the film there was “a three minutes long scene between me and my old man. He recorded his lines two months after me, it was bloody absurd.”  Alex told Metro that his acting work in the United States has really increased the number of Swedish roles he’s been offered as well:

“Yes. Five years ago there wasn’t a casting agent who would’ve placed me in a Swedish Generation Kill. I was like the high school guy.”

Alex has also just finished another Swedish project, Puss, under director Johan Kling, whom Alex feels is “one of the best directors in Scandinavia. Gustaf Skarsgård, Alex‘s little brother, also appears in the film, though they do not share screen time together.  Working with his family is something Alex would like to do more of, he says:

“We’re not looking actively for any projects together, but it would be so bloody fun. I would like to work with both my old man and my two brothers, who are actors.”

Since moving to Los Angeles, Alex “has gone from unemployed to celebrity,” and sometimes that increased attention he gets in the United States can be intimidating:

“You’re driving everywhere in L.A., so you always sit in that bubble of plate. But sure, after True Blood season two, I noticed a big difference. Of course I see that some things are written, but I never read fan sites or blogs. I don’t think it’s good for me. If it’s negative I know it will get to me. Or you just read positive things and your ego grows and sort of explodes.”

Alex doesn’t think that his fame has gone to his head, however.  He tells Metro, “Nothing would hurt me more than if they [his friends] said that I have changed.”

In addition to discussing his career, Alex also talked a little about his personal life.  He is content as a single guy.   When Metro pressed for more information about his love life, he responded with a laugh, saying, “Are you asking me if I get laid? No, not really.”  Alex dismissed the rumors about his supposed connections with costars Kate Bosworth and Evan Rachael Wood by stating:

“There’s not a young woman I know in Hollywood that I haven’t been connected too. But things like that happen. If I walk into a taxi with a girl, we’re married.”

Alex says that Kate Bosworth, his co-star in Straw Dogs “is incredibly strong in this film. She threw herself out there and took a big risk. There aren’t many good looking Hollywood chicks who would do that. She’s f-ing smart and a wicked girl. We are really good friends.”

As for his “Paparazzi” music video costar Lady Gaga, Alex says he doesn’t really know her.

“…we had one day of work together. It was crazy. She’s a bit sliced, but she’s also very driven. We had a blast.”

On his True Blood costar Evan Rachel Wood (Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq), Alex was all praise, stating his belief that “She is one of her generations best actresses, really good. I think she will become one of the biggest. F-ing young, only 22 years.”

Finally, Alex says of blogger Perez Hilton who has written extensively in praise of him:

“I don’t know him. It’s really funny that he does his thing and that people like it. I really don’t know, I have no relation to him what so ever. But apparently he’s got something.”

SOURCE: AlexSkarsgård.net

(Photo credit: AlexSkarsgård.net)

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Fans Mingle with Stars and Give Blood During EyeCon’s True Blood Convention

November 17, 2009

Ashley JonesDuring the EyeCon True Blood Convention in Orlando last weekend, Central Florida News Channel 13 caught up with the stars in attendance, including Todd Lowe (Terry Bellefleur), Ashley Jones (Daphne), Allan Hyde (Godric), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds) and Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte).

No Season 3 secrets were shared with the newscast, though Ashley caught herself nearly giving away something that happens to Lafayette, saying, “He’s gonna get…a lot’s gonna happen to Lafayette.”  Todd also was careful about the next season, telling interviewers:

I’m incredibly tight-lipped. I can tell you I got the first two scripts just before I came here to Orlando and I poured through them veraciously. They’re great and I’m dying to tell someone.

Lucky fans who attended the convention had the chance to talk to their favorite actors with photo ops, panel discussions, a buffet banquet, and Masquerade Ball. A blood drive was held during the convention as well at Florida’s Blood Centers.

Click here to be taken to Channel New 13 for an exclusive video about the event.

Nelsan Ellis

Sam Trammell

 Todd Lowe

SOURCE: Central Florida News 13

(Photo Credit: Central Florida News 13)

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Alexander Skarsgård on Swedish Radio P3 Popular

November 16, 2009

Alexander SkarsgårdDuring a break in Sweden to visit family and friends, True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård (Eric Northman) took time to do an extensive interview with Swedish Radio P3 Popular.  In addition to raving about the love he feels for his mother’s pork-pancakes, he answered questions on a variety of topics including voicing for the animated film Metropia, handling fame, his acting career, his take on his Viking vampire alter-ego, and being anti-glam in Hollywood.

At the age of 13, he had a hard time handling all the attention that was thrown his way and stayed away from acting for seven years in order to live a more quiet and ordinary life.  Now that he’s back into acting again, he’s gained some perspective.

“I just decided that I should feel it was something positive instead. And if someone approaches me for an autograph or is some girl in Kentucky orders a scarf from Hammarby and sends it to me in Los Angeles…That is something beautiful and something flattering. I mean that she puts so much time and effort on getting me… a gift is something I should feel great about instead of feeling paranoid and that it’s something negative. I simply learned to feel that it’s great that I can reach out and affect people enough.”

One way he deals with fame is to avoid paying attention to it.  He doesn’t read reviews or think too much about what the audience will say, and he avoids watching dailies during shooting.  He also doesn’t read blogs or websites about himself:

“I think if I did that would drive me crazy. One scenario is that I’ll read something negative and that will make me paranoid if like it’s about my acting or how I play a character and it will affect how I do my work. And the other scenario is that I’ll read too much praise and good stuff about me which will lead to my ego exploding. So I don’t think anything good would come out of me reading them. I think it’s good for me to stay far away from them. But, of course, I notice that the Series [True Blood] is doing well. No doubt about that.”

Another way he handles the fame that has begun swirling around him is by returning to Sweden whenever he can to spend time with his family and friends:

I come back home and I have no flat. I stay with my Mom in her computer room. I hang with my childhood friends. We just hang at Söder and have a beer or two… Really, nothing about that has changed! My everyday life in Sweden when I come home is just the same. But, of course, it’s more intense now that I’m here compared to when I was living here. Now for instance I get a week here and then probably won’t get back in 8 or 10 months so of course it’s more hectic to get time to meet with everyone I want to see.”

He also notes:

“I really love the life I had here in Stockholm at Söder before I left for USA and it means very much to me to come back to that and back to my childhood friends who couldn’t care less about what I do. I mean, of course they support me and think it’s great that things are going well but none of them are in acting. My best friends are like carpenters and insurance brokers…They they… well it’s healthy for me to come home to them and just be me and sit down with them over a beer and talk about other things than Paris Hilton.”

The rest of this extensive and fascinating interview has been translated into English by our friends at AlexanderSkarsgård.net, and you can listen to the interview in Swedish there as well.

Source: AlexanderSkarsgård.net

(Photo credit: Swedish Radio P3 Popular via AlexanderSkarsgård.net)

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