Alexander Skarsgård is tall. It’s a fact I had been told or read several times prior to meeting him. Words like viking, a fitting description based on his Swedish nationality, were used over and over and going in to interview the face of Calvin Klein’s new Encounter fragrance, I was mentally prepped to be dwarfed by his hulking presence. It is true; Skarsgård is tall. Tall in a way that, unlike most Hollywood actors, probably doesn’t necessitate him to stand on a crate while shooting scenes with female co-stars. You don’t necessarily expect someone with the physical presence of a Nordic superhero to have the most affable personality but the True Blood actor does, equally at ease talking about his new role for one of the most well-known fashion brands in the world as he is offering up travel tips in his hometown. We caught up with Skarsgård towards the tail end of a packed press day, as he took appointments seated on an oversized couch opposite a tv playing his Encounter commercial on repeat.
GQ: How’s it been watching yourself on a loop all day?
Alexander Skarsgård: This is what I do. Hanging out in my humble abode, watching myself. No it’s fucking surreal.
GQ: So what did you think when you saw the final cut of the clip?
Skarsgård: I thought they did a great job. What attracted me to it was that it was so dark and moody. It felt like something Fritz Lang would’ve directed, something out of the German Expressionism movement in the ’20s. I think they really captured that. So I’m very happy with how it turned out. But then I just walked by that freaking billboard and it’s surreal, seeing yourself the size of Godzilla.
GQ: And you’re already a pretty tall guy. You’re actually the first male to ever front a fragrance campaign for the brand, was that something that resonated with you when you were approached for the project?
Skarsgård: Of course it did. I was very humbled by that. This is my first big campaign. For me the feeling was that if I was going to do something I want it to be fun and creatively great. When this came up it was perfect; Calvin is such an amazing house, Fabien Baron is arguably the greatest art director of our time and we had worked together before for an Interview magazine shoot that Steven Klein shot. So I knew those guys and I also worked with Lara on something for Vogue two years ago shot by Peter Lingbergh – which is a much different experience from a Steven Klein shoot. So when this came up and Fabien explained the concept, that we were going to shoot a short and that the tone was going to be in this dark, film noir style, I just thought if I’m ever going to do it this is the one.