Here Comes the Viking! GQ interview with Alexander Skarsgård
Written by Brett Martin of GQ magazine, this interview with everyone’s favorite Viking is told as more of a narrative than a question-answer session. On a whale-watching tour with Alex, during which they see no whales but “some great bird activity”, Martin quizzes Skarsgård about early life as the son of a famous Swedish actor, monkey business on the True Blood set, his upcoming film projects, and rumors of his involvement with Kate Bosworth. In a quirky, sometimes self-deprecating, retelling of their uneventful jaunt at sea, Martin paints a picture of a man who, while on the fast track to Hollywood superstardom, is still surprisingly real and grounded. Read on for snippets from the article, or go here to see it in its entirety!
Every day they observe what is known as the Roll Out, in which Stellan and whichever children are around escort the clan’s 81-year-old matriarch, Gudrun, in her wheelchair to a hallowed old beer hall named Kvarnen that functions as fan headquarters for Hammarby, the local soccer team and one of Skarsgård’s obsessions. Gudrun will have one beer and two shots of Fernet-Branca. (“She’s over food,” Skarsgård says.) Later Stellan spends the rest of the afternoon cooking, his primary passion. The tribe gathers once again for dinner and wine.
Skarsgård is the first to poke fun at the notion of the Swedish military, which saw its last serious action around the time of the Northern War, 300 years ago, but it was an important challenge for him. “It was my way of going off into the unknown,” he says. “I didn’t want to just be somebody’s son.”
In True Blood’s ever expanding ensemble of fairies, werewolves, shape-shifters, telepaths, werecats, telefairies, vamp-shifters, and God knows what else, his Eric has become a solid center—the only character to display that essential quality shared by great HBO antiheroes past (think Tony Soprano or Omar Little or Al Swearengen): genuine unpredictability. Skarsgård’s minutely calibrated deadpan somehow makes him the show’s funniest, most cerebral, and most ferally frightening personage. “He does this thing with his eyes,” says creator and show-runner Alan Ball. “It’s like they become slightly unfocused and all of a sudden they’re mirrors to this ancient, 1,000-year-old soul.” Indeed what Eric is, his relative humanity, may be the only moral mystery to be found amidst all the steamy, gothic froth.
Not that Skarsgård emerges suds-free. Those rooting for Eric in the increasingly explicit love-blood triangle he shares with Anna Paquin’s Sookie Stackhouse and Stephen Moyer’s Bill Compton are surely aware of the extra frisson provided by Paquin and Moyer’s real-life marriage. Does it also mean on-set awkwardness?
“It’s really clear to Steve and to everybody else what the deal is—which is that Anna is like a sister to me,” Skarsgård says. “Those love scenes take quite a bit of acting, actually. A lot of acting.”
On his role as Charlie Venner in the Straw Dogs remake…
…in which Venner rapes Amy, who is played in the remake by Kate Bosworth. Tabloid followers will be aware of the widely reported news that Skarsgård and Bosworth are romantically involved. (When asked about the relationship, he shuts down, smile disappearing, with a completeness and efficiency that could only come from growing up in the public eye. “My father always kept the family out of the press,” he says later, almost apologetic.)
It was, by all accounts, a brutal scene to film, taking place over two days.”In the beginning, Kate would be crying after every take and Alex would try to comfort her,” says Lurie. “By the end, everybody got really raw.”
When the film was in postproduction, Skarsgård brought his father for a visit to the editing room at Sony studios, and they watched the scene as it was being cut together. “They seemed more like best friends than father and son,” says Lurie. At the end, Stellan stood up and spoke those words every boy longs to hear. Says Lurie, “He proclaimed it ‘the best rape ever filmed.’ “
On acting, and the difference between the Swedish and Hollywood cultures…
“Hollywood can be like kids playing marbles on the schoolyard,” he says. “Everybody wants the shiny marble until one kid says he doesn’t. Then nobody will touch it. So it’s important that I make good decisions now. “
That doesn’t mean he has trouble ricocheting from the highbrow world of von Trier to the soapier True Blood; nor way beyond, to the green-screen-and-explosion bonanza that Battleship promises to be. (You were expecting Strindberg’s take on a board game?) “If you’re an actor in Sweden, you do drama, you do comedy, you do action, you do film and live theater. You do whatever there is,” Skarsgård says. “Vanity is death to an actor.” Ball describes him as “the least actorly actor I’ve ever met.”
Now for some eye candy! Here are the photos published in GQ (and a couple that weren’t… in my copy at least!)
Oh, and as an extra juicy tidbit, fans of Fox’s hit show Glee will be excited to know that June’s issue of GQ also features a wedding fashion spread on Darren Criss, better known as mega-crooner Blaine Warbler. Click here to see him in GQ, or check out some of the photos below…
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