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Alexander Skarsgard: “Filled with happiness”

Written by Jess on October 19 2010

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Alexander Skarsgard talks about vampires, Moomin and his Family. Eric Northman is way the coolest vampire out of the current wave: Always calm except when the blood of his victims ruins his hairstyle. The blond giant in the U.S. series “True Blood” (the third season airs on Nov. 4, Thursdays at 8:15 PM on SyFy) twisted the heroine Sookie Stackhouse’s head. Hard to believe that Alexander Skarsgard will be the one who plays the cool villain: The 34-year-old Swede is more like a two-meter puppy than a nasty bloodsucker. Although his voice sounds very rough after half a day full of interviews he is still willing to tell is about his role, his family and about shooting with guts (literally).

msn: You not only play the role of the ancient Viking-Vampire Eric, but you have given your voice for the movie “Moomins and the Comet chase”.
Alexander Skarsgard: (smiles) That’s right. And I am both, Eric and the Moomin.

msn: How does that work with these contrary characters?
Skarsgard: You need to build a connection to the characters and have to believe in every single moment. If I don’t feel that I can’t do a good job. Whenever I read a script the most important question is: Do I understand the character? Do I understand the characters journey? If you don’t feel that you don’t fit in the role. But I’ve definitely felt it, both, the Moomin and Eric. (Laughs)

msn: Regarding Eric in “True Blood”: the third season ist just about to air in Germany, so what are the major developments?
Skarsgard: There is a very important storyline for Eric, it’s about vengeance. He lost someone very important centuries ago, and now he’s got the chance to avenge that person. Viewers will see that Eric can be very focused. One aspect I enjoyed very much was Erics relationship with his child Pam.

msn: Pam seems to be much nicer than in season one and two…
Skarsgard: I always liked the relationship between the two. They are kidding around and nagging on eachother. They always bug eachother. But she is his child. And after two and a half years it was nice to finally show this connection, the love between the two. It is almost unexpected because the two seem to be such ice-cold, tough types.

Alexander Skarsgard is 6,3″ tall but the Swede doesn’t seem very intimidating.

msn: Can you tell us anything about season four? Filming starts end of November…
Skarsgard: I really don’t know anything, yet. And I’m not just saying that, the writers are working at the scripts at the very moment. So all I can do is – like the fans – read book four of the bookseries “True Blood” is based on. But the series has developed kind of its own life and follows it’s own directions. So I have no idea. But it’s very exciting for me, a little like Christmas when you get the script. You flip through it and ask yourself: “Okay, well what will happen this season”

msn: There are many bloody surprises for you on the show. In one scene you had to tear apart a human body. Did you ever feel queasy about that?
Skarsgard: No, it’s lots of fun do shoot these scenes. It’s bloody and always a bit exaggerated. Honestly, I mean I tear apart a man, and then I bite him in the guts and pull it out with my teeth – we laughed a lot while shooting these scenes.

msn: Are there any additives in that fake blood to make it taste better? You have it in your mouth all the time…
Skarsgard: It’s very sweet, a kind of corn syrup. Sweet and sticky. It tastes not exactly great and we really don’t want to swallow it. In the scene I was tearing apart that human my body was covered with that stuff. It’s so sticky, I couldn’t get my clothes off untill it was dry. My pants were like glued onto my legs. So I had to go back to the trailer and take a shower – with clothes on – only to get them off. (Laughs)

msn: In one of your latest movies, Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia”, you were working with your father Stellan Skarsgard (Stieg Larssons trilogy, Mamma Mia) as co-actors. Was that the first time?
Skarsgard: Yes, it was. Well, he also gave his voice for the Moomin film, but that’s not quite the same. So this was the first time we had a scene together in a movie.

msn: Did you have the jitters to play with you famous father?
Skarsgard: No, it was to much fun. Not only because of my father, but also a dream has become true: to work with Lars von Trier! Anyway, the whole cast: John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland … are great actors! Only to be a part of it – oh, and Udo Kier! So beeing a part of it was simply great. I was filled with happiness, I wasn’t nervous at all.

msn: Really? Many actors are complaining about von Trier, Nicole Kidman said once, he literally tortured her on set of “Dogville” …
Skarsgard: For me he is a teddy bear. It was definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life and my career. It was fantastic to work with him. We had a lot of freedom, he really supported the actors and wants them to improvise, develop own ideas and play them. He’s a genius. He looks at what we are doing and then comes and whispers something in your ear, changes things a tiny bit and let you play it all over again. The continuity of the movie doesn’t really matter to him, nor any mark the actors are supposed to stand on. Everything is very playful. Great.

msn: Back in the U.S. you are shooting for TV and the Hollywood production “Battleship”. But at the same time you always come back to Europe for new projects. Are you just playing around before you finally make a decision where to work?
Skarsgard: There is absolutely no reason to decide for one or the other. I would like to work with filmmakers I admire. And I want to work with scripts and characters I can connect to. So I don’t really care about wether that is in Germany, Sweden or the U.S.

msn: But there are differences even between the U.S.and European cinema?
Skarsgard: Not really. Whether on an independent film in the U.S. or in Sweden, it doesn’t matter: it’s both intimate and small. But in the U.S. there are also these giant projects. “True Blood” is quite large, but “Battleship” is huge! The scale is crazy, there are a few things we don’t have over here, like ships, cranes and helicopters for filming… But I think it’s more a matter of the budget than of the culture.

msn: Unlike many of your U.S. colleagues you don’t have a personal trainer or a personal assistant. Is that also a matter of the budget?
Skarsgard: No, I just don’t need that. I don’t feel very comfortable to show up on a shooting with a bunch of people. I grew up in the swedish film business where most actors don’t even have an agent, even the less a personal trainer or nutritional adviser. These things I do on my own.

msn: Very down to earth. Also your tattoo is pretty down to the roots. Supposedly your little brother drew it…
Skarsgard: That’s right. Here (laughs and shows his leg). It was at christmas in our house northern of Stockholm. He just did his drawings, like all children do. I took a photo of it and back in L.A. I had the picture tattooed.

msn: For nostalgic or artistic reasons?
Skarsgard: Because I love him. He is the youngest, I am the oldest, and so we’re all connected. For me, it represents my family at home.


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