I love my friend and translator in Sweden…Puss J!!!
She sent over the entire translation and scans from this months Situation Stockholm’s interview with Alexander Skarsgard…you know…the Tall One…
I posted all the scans although some of the text wasn’t readable and I cut it off, but the interview in it’s entirety (in English) is included…
Foto: Annika Aschberg
FROM SOUTH TO WEST
Alexander Skarsgård is the hottest Swede inHollywood. And soon his first Swedish movie in three years, Johan Kling’s Puss, is about to premiere in August. Situation Stockholm’s Cyril Hellman got the only interview.
Alexander Skarsgård tells that the work on Puss has been going on for a long time. 1 ½ years ago, director Johan Kling, got sick from all the work and the shooting was put on hold indefinitely.
- It was really tricky since I don’t live in Sweden. I had to go home to LA and continue working on True Blood. It took an enormous amount of time to get the whole thing back on track. But I think that I speak for all actors on the project when I say that we were all very dedicated to wrap Puss and not walk away from a half-done movie
- When we finally were about ready to start working on it again, I’d finished shooting second season of True Blood and in the middle of shooting the re-make of Straw Dogs in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was all surreal, I was on an intense schedule and on top of it, the part demanded that I’d cut my hair really short. I flew from Shreveport via Atlanta, New York and Stockholm to Visby where Puss’ producer picked me up and drove me straight to the studio in Fårösund, where a nervous make-up artist waited with a wig that I’d never even tried on before. Luckily it fit, and after that it was just to down a big cup of black coffee and get in front of the camera and smile. We filmed for three intense days, and then I flew back to Shreveport. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted during the filming, but it was a great joy to finish Puss with an incredibly inspiring Johan and a fantastic crew. They totally made it possible for me.
Alexander left Sweden at 30 mainly because he was only getting offers to play the high school hunk. Today, after the successes in the USA with the TV-series Generation Kill and True Blood there are offers for different parts from Sweden. Will you continue to film in Sweden?
- Yes. My moving was also about the Swedish films being made at that time. Nothing stood out. It was as if the same movie was being made over and over and I was only getting offers to play the same part over and over. Now it’s completely different. 10 years ago we made the worst films in Scandinavia but today I’m proud to be Swedish when I travel the world meeting people from the film industry. People are impressed over what’s happening in Sweden. We have a lot of new, young and interesting film makers that all have a different story to tell. Johan Kling is far from being a teenager, but he definitely belongs in the new crowd of Swedish film makers, all with their own unique style and vibe. I call them “auteur”. I was a huge fan of Darling, an incredibly touching movie. For me, there was never any doubt that it was the right thing to go home and work with Johan. And if you haven’t read Johan’s book “Människor helt utan betydelse”, go out and get it immediately!
Puss is a comedy that takes place at a small independent theatre. Alexander’s brother Gustaf also stars in the movie, as an introvert Indy guy. But they don’t have a single scene together.
- Gurra and jag don’t have anything big together in the movie, but there are some scenes where the whole ensemble gets together, so we did get to hang out a little bit after all.
Stellan Skarsgård recently said in an interview that the risk of him and his eldest sons doing a movie together would be that all focus would be on the actors instead of the work, and that is why they probably should do a play like “Long day’s journey into night”.
-Yes, but you have to understand that it’s not anything that is holding us back. It’s always about how good the script is. Usually when a producer has been interested in casting us together it’s because they’ve seen it from a PR perspective. I mean, they’ve probably been hoping for higher ticket sales if there is a gang from the Skarsgård Family in the same movie. As an actor that isn’t flattering at all and I don’t like it. However, if the offer to play a part comes to me because it’s a good script with a good character, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to work together. And of course, it would be great fun for all of us. But it has to be the right thing. And of course, we are doing “Long day’s journey into night” someday, speaking of great material….
From hunk to City Slicker in Puss. That isn’t a stretch and your part is pretty stereotype.
-He is a city guy and follows the current trend, drives the right car and is cool. It’s like if he’s interested in buying a sideboard from the 60’s for 45.000. He is extremely scared of conflicts and throughout the movie he continue to get himself into conflicts and always ends up in a corner. He is trying to get himself out of them in a clumsy way.
Eric in True Blood is also a “Slicker”. Do you see a pattern that you are getting type casted in a different way?
-No, as a character they are miles apart. Eric is full of self confidence, strong and stands by his word. He’s got enough self confidence to do that. Alex in Puss is nothing like that, he’s got an insecure gaze and always tries do get away, lies and avoids conflicts.
Alexander Skarsgård was born in Råcksta, but grew up in Södermalm.
-The Södermalm I grew up in was totally different from Södermalm today. Söder was an artistic area and much more affordable than the rest of the city. I moved to Söder when I was about 6 months old and I’ve lived there for most of my life. We moved to a block of Blekingegatan that today is a part of what everyone calls SOFO. When I was four years old we moved on to Götgatsbacken and Mom and my siblings still live there today. The family has had the same apartment for 30 years. I grew up there as well as Gurra, Sam and the other siblings. Götgatan then and now is like day and night. In the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s there were no latte places or trendy boutiques.
Alexander claims that the old Söder has made him what he is.
-We never left Söder. I went to school at Mariatorget and that was where we all hung out. I am so fucking old that Södra Station didn’t exist when I was a kid, it was a construction area. There was a closed gas station, an old railway and old storage buildings. The area looked like something out of a Mad Max movie. We ran around all over and it was our playground. There were a lot of shady people hanging there too, and once we were chased by an old man with a knife. It wasn’t the safest place but we had a blast and it was fun for us kids to hang out there.
Alexander still keeps up with Hammarby. –Bajen was an important part of my teenage-period in the 90’s. My friends and I was active supporters, and we basically went to every game. Sometimes it was Samba all night long after Bajen won and sometimes you had to get into a car and drive 140 miles in pouring November rain after Bajen lost a game where a qualification to Allsvenskan was at stake. “Det svänger om bajen”.
-I am without roots and have lived in the USA for six years. It’s important for me to come home and meet the guys and have a beer at “Medis” and then continue to Söderstadion to watch Bajen play. There are a lot of memories that come back whenever I do that, and it’s a part of my childhood.
Recently before one of Hammarby’s games away from home there was a clip uploaded on You Tube where you can see Alexander and Joel Kinnaman trying to hitch hike from central Hollywood to Jonkoping.
-Through the years, Hammarby have given me so much, so many great moments from going to their games and the mere thought of Hammarby going bankrupt and not being there anymore is terrifying. I want to encourage them and give something back. And when I have kids of my own one day I want to be able to take them to Söderstadion. Hammarby has the most loyal fans there are. There is no way we will let Hammarby file for bankruptcy.
What do you think of the current season in “Super-ettan”?
-It’s tough as hell. There is no money. But I am convinced that the new manager Åsa Sånemyr, will do a great job. The key to it all is that Hammarby have very dedicated supporters that will do anything to make the club survive financially. Together we will turn it around.
At his latest visit to Stockholm in May, Alexander and Kate Bosworth, was all over the news. Every day they were followed by the paparazzi.
-I’ve always been proud over the fact that people in Sweden will leave celebrities along, that you can go out and have a drink with your friends without being chased by photographers. Friends in LA don’t believe me when I tell them that there are no paparazzi in Sweden. And then I come home on vacation to visit family I haven’t seen in 6 months and I get stalked. It’s the tabloids – Expressen, Aftonbladet and Se&Hör – who send out reporters to do the stalking. It was absurd. My Mom called me from Gotland on Sunday evening that week and said “I know exactly what you’ve been doing all weekend, who you’ve been seeing, what bars you went to, what time you took a cab and from where you took it”.
Doesn’t that make you frustrated to the point where you just want to hit them Sean Penn-style?
-No, there are no professional paparazzi in Sweden. I got that these people were sent out to do their job. When I sat in a restaurant having dinner and a beer with my friends at 11 pm, there was a reporter from Expressen who came in and wanted to get an interview right there and then. Call me old-fashioned but I like the way it used to be, when journalists called and booked an appointment for an interview. Another dude followed us 24/7, he took notes on when we left the apartment and when we got back. After three days when he still was there, I walked up to him and said “I think this is enough”. He was cool about it and backed off. I don’t mind them as individuals but it’s frustrating not to be able to spend time with your family without having a camera shoved into your face.
Isn’t it a bit paradox that you’re in Lady Gaga’s video Paparazzi?
-Not at all. Paparazzi are about the media hype of today and forms the journalists and the photographers as well as the celebrities themselves.
LA Times recently described you as anti Hollywood because you lack a huge ego and a big entourage.
-I am very Swedish. There are a lot of people here thinking that if you have a big entourage that is the ultimate sign that you made it. They show up for a photo session with a crew of 20; stylists, publicists etc. In situations like that I just feel like J.Lo and that is not me. It’s not to maintain a certain image that I show up alone, it’s because that’s what makes me feel good about myself and I like having a dialogue with the photographer about what we’re doing rather than letting 25 people do my talking.
Have Joel Kinnaman and you started a Swedish Club in Hollywood?
-No. Joel is a good friend. But the last 6 months I’ve been busy shooting season three of True Blood. Joel has been filming a pilot in Vancouver so it’s nothing like Entourage, nothing like us being a big group of Swedes hanging out. But of course, we keep in touch and we meet as often as we can.
Alexander has moved a lot the last few years but now he is beginning to call LA his home.
-It’s taken me a couple of years to realize that this is my home. I’ve spent time here before but always moved on. Now that we are shooting True Blood in LA, I’m here for six-seven months of the year. After that when I get time off between seasons I go back home to Sweden to visit family and friends or to film Puss or I go to Shreveport to shoot Straw Dogs. I live in LA now but every time I touch ground in Stockholm I can feel that is my true home. That is where I have my roots, my family and my old friends.
Will LA continue to be your home in the foreseeable future?
-I don’t know. I like it here but it’s really hard to answer. The lifestyle here is very different from where I come from in Söder. Everything is spread out and bigger. You have to get into your car and drive everywhere. When you live two blocks apart you experience a different kind of togetherness. At home I run into friends whenever I’m out walking and you have more of spontaneous get-togethers, you meet over a coffee. That is not at all how things are in LA. The city is the size of Sörmland. But as long as I’m on True Blood and it is filmed here, this is where I will have my base.
There is a backside to Los Angeles: 80 000 homeless, gang and race wars, illegal immigrants, poverty and criminality.
-Yes. La is very segregated. Everything is spread out. People live in small isolated bubbles, sort of. If you visit some areas down town, it’s as if you are in a Zombie movie. The streets are all deserted, apart from the odd shopping cart that slowly rolls down the street. The contrasts of this city are scary. The segregation is a huge problem.
You’ve been in two successful TV series. Is the next move to start making good motion pictures?
-I’ll see about that. I’m attracted to interesting scripts. It’s totally irrelevant if it’s TV or movies.
Is it hard today to get the schedules of shooting both True Blood and motion pictures to work?
-No, I film True Blood for six to seven months of the year. The rest of the year I’m free to do whatever I want.
Alexander had been struggling in LA for three years before he got his big break as Sergeant Iceman in critically acclaimed Generation Kill.
-I got here in the spring of 2004 and it wasn’t until fall of 2007 that I got my first bigger job with that show. The first three years I wasn’t making any money at all and I didn’t work. We were a group of friends that had to struggle to survive. I went to meetings, read scripts, tried to get into the business by going to auditions. It was tough as hell. For a long period of time I got nothing but shitty scripts and I thought “what is the point of all this”. But from time to time a good script came along and got my attention and that was enough to motivate me to keep struggling.
-It was hard because the casting directors you met with probably met around a thousand actors for one part. And sometimes after I had been back for a second and third time and got close to getting the part, which alone motivated me to stay a bit longer. I was goal oriented and kept my self confidence at a high level. I had the feeling that sooner or later something would turn up that had my name written over it and I would get that part.
Did you ever consider giving up?
-No, not really. I didn’t have a lot to lose by staying. The situation wasn’t that I was offered all these great parts in Sweden and that I was missing out on anything. Each time I was on the verge of giving up and going back home and read the scripts I was getting from Sweden, I thought to myself “nope, this is not worth going home for”.
Did you ever get anything for free because of your name?
-No. Nobody in his right mind would cast me because my name is Skarsgård. That isn’t how it works. My old man isn’t that established here. I mean, people know who he is but he’s not really a “movie star”. They can’t finance a whole movie just because Stellan Skarsgård is starring in it and there is no way in hell anyone could finance a movie because Stellan’s completely unknown son is starring in it. The name did not make it any easier for me in any way. It was just for me to get a number and get in line and wait for my turn to audition.
Iceman really appears to be American. And foremost he sounds American. Did you work with a voice coach?
-Yes. It was inevitable that I wasn’t going to get away with an accent because the guy really exists in real life and he is from San Diego. We filmed for seven months in Africa and I had a dialect coach to help me with a lot of things.
How was it to be in Namibia for so long?
-A fantastic experience. Mentally it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We were isolated in the desert without family and friends. We were shooting for six days of the week so during the days off I just slept or worked on the upcoming scenes with my dialect coach. It was extremely intense without any social life. For seven months I was either on set or in bed. But at the same time what made it magical was that the script was so fucking brilliant. David Simon and Ed Burns who wrote the script also made The Wire, which I love. After being a struggling actor in LA for three years it was inspiring to get an opportunity to work with people I admire.
True Blood, a TV series about modern vampires has an odd concept. Why is it such a hit?
-I was unsure myself when I was offered the part to play a Viking Vampire. But when I heard that it was Allan Ball, who made Six Feet Under and American Beauty, I got very interested. And when we finally met and he told me about his ideas I thought it sounded fantastic. The Series is over the top, with a twitch and completely insane with elements that are both funny and exciting. It’s extremely graphic. But Allan Ball and the other writers have a talent for finding a balance so that everything makes sense. It’s about our society of today; it starts in how you can see parallels in current events. The fantasy is grounded in reality.
The structure of True Blood is a lot like David Lynch’s’ Twin Peaks.
-If you think that all I can say is Thank You!
Sam Peckinpah’s original version of Straw Dogs was accused of being overly violent when it came out. Is the re-make just as violent?
-Yes, it’s going to be violent but at the same time different from Pechinpah’s. Rob Lurie re-wrote the script in full.
You’re also going to be in the international production of “Moomin”.
-Yes, and that was a bit unexpected. They called and I got the feeling from where I was a child – a Finnish-Polish production made in the 70’s 3D technique where you put glass windows and drew the characters before filming them to create depth. They’ve re-made that with modern technique but the feeling of it all is still very retro. And when they told me that Max von Sydow was going to tell the story I thought “well, that’s that. There is no way I can turn this down”.
How do you choose your parts?’
-A script has to have something that triggers me. And the ground of it all is always who wrote the script and is making the movie, so that I can understand the vision of the story that the Director wants to tell. It’s has to be something that triggers my creativity and is inspiring at the same time. With Moomin it was the combination of memories from when I was a kid and the opportunity to work with the legend Max von Sydow. If it’s good enough for Max, it’s good enough for me.
Are you signed for any further movies in the future?
-If everything goes the way it’s planned I will be shooting Melancholia with Lars von Trier home in Sweden this summer (starring opposites Keifer Sutherland, Kirsten Dunst, John Hurt, Udo Kier and Stellan). After that I’m still not sure what I’m going to do.
When I interviewed your father he said that one reason he got so many children was that “you have to beat your old Man at something”. Today you have more hits and a higher popularity rate on Google and IMdB, more fan sites and so on. Have all of this been your way of “beating your old Man”?
-My only goal has been to be taller than Dad. And I am. Career wise, I’ve never felt the need to compete with him. I love my Dad and if he is happy with his work, so am I.
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