On Set Interview with Alexander Skarsgard – Straw Dogs

Parts taken from Edward Douglas’ interview with the cast which can be found in it entirety HERE!

The four men are the proverbial “Straw Dogs” – the gang of four who will lay siege to the Sumner’s home in the last act of the movie, and among them is Alexander Skarsgard, who many think is on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars thanks to his turn as Eric on HBO’s “True Blood.” He plays Charlie, Amy’s high school boyfriend who was a football star but who sees her back in town with this Hollywood guy as her husband, who he doesn’t see as a challenge for him to try and win her back. The other three guys in the group are Billy Lush’s Chris, Rhys Coiro’s Norman and Drew Powell’s Bic, all of whom we’d be able to spend more time talking to later on. David has hired them to fix the roofing on the old house, but he ends up firing them when they start leering at Amy.

In fact, as Amy walks in with the beer in this scene, it’s clear a few of the guys are checking her out, but David is still trying to fit in and be friendly with the locals, so when they invite him to join them on a hunting trip, his response is essentially, “When in Rome…” The guys continue to work on opening up the bear trap, the prop being the perfect analogy for how the tension is being created for the violence that’s to come after David falls afoul of these young men.

Lastly, we had a chance to sit down with Alexander Skarsgard and his fellow Straw Dogs. Most of them had been relocated to Shreveport for a number of months and later that night, we’d go to dinner with the guys and get a sense of their individual personalities and how they’ve bonded as actors. Although Skarsgard has become well-known for his role on HBO’s “True Blood,” Rhys Coiro has also been seen a lot on that network, playing moody filmmaker Billy Walsh on “Entourage.”

ComingSoon.net: I don’t think any of you were alive when the first “Straw Dogs” came out so had any of you seen it before it came out? Did you know anything about it?

Alexander Skarsgard: Yeah, I saw it 10 to 15 years ago, and I just remember the rape scene. I saw it again before I met with Rod.
Billy Lush: I saw it like when I was 21 at my friend’s place back when I was trying to soak in as much art and the classic movies as I could, and came across that, and was like, “What?” It was a little weird.
Rhys Coiro: I was about that age when I saw it, I was 22, and it definitely had a big effect on me, too.

CS: What’s it like now being a part of it and what are you changing for those who will be watching this movie for the first time?

Skarsgard: Like I said, I rewatched it before the meeting but I haven’t seen it since. There’s no point in just remaking it. You have to make it your own and add something, and it is obviously a remake, but Rod rewrote the script. I think for us, the Straw Dogs, I actually think this is more interesting than in the first version. There’s more backstory now, the dynamics between Charlie’s character and Amy’s, the history there, he elaborated on that a bit more and worked that out a little more, and that game that we’re playing is quite different from the original one.
Lush: I think there’s more to do in terms of what the Straw Dogs are doing. Like in the original, Bic and Chris, Chris was just laughing like an idiot, and I don’t remember Bic, but we definitely have more to do in that. I think they always get portrayed as the bad guys, but in this, my perspective is that David is the bad guy. Not necessarily a bad guy but he’s an *sshole.
Skarsgard: Well, he is a bit of a jerk because it’s our territory. This is the way we live.

CS: How do you avoid doing stereotypes of the normal Southern hillbilly clichés?

Skarsgard: We touched on that a little earlier. I don’t see us as bad guys. It is different. This is our territory and like Billy said, he’s a bit of a douchebag when he shows up, this Hollywood guy, he’s kind of condescending. He has his approach, and this is our home, this is our land, and he comes in driving his P-type Jag and giving us 100 bucks like we’re kids, that kind of the thing.

CS: How did you guys go about developing the Southern accents?

Lush: To really get it, it took me like a week. There was just this one session where I instantly got it, but to build up to that took about a week.
Skarsgard:I was nervous about it because English isn’t even my first language, so I found out about this end of June, early July, and I said that I know you’ll have a dialogue coach on set, but I need to start this now, because I hadn’t even been to the South.
Lush: We did another television series together two years ago called “Generation Kill.” Remember that?
Skarsgard: That’s right. (laughter) On that, I had a bunch of British actors and a couple South African actors, and I’m from Sweden and a guy from Israel, so it’s about a platoon of Marines, so we had a dialect coach there that I liked a lot, he’s based in New York, so I flew out to July and spent a week with him working on it. He put stuff on tape so I had it on my iPod when I went to Sweden just listening to his voice and getting into it. I need to work on it. It’s easier for me to do it this way, because it’s a mess right now. I live in California but I’m working on this accent, I’m from Europe, so I don’t know what’s happening right now.
Drew Powell: I had a problem. When I got to Hollywood, I’m from Indiana, which doesn’t necessarily have an accent, but I got to Hollywood, and everybody thought I was from Texas or Tennessee. “Where’s that accent from?” “Indiana” “Oh.” I didn’t think I had one but apparently, I must have put it on when I got to Hollywood.
Coiro: It’s really just second nature from being around folks down here. I can’t imagine if we tried to shoot this somewhere else. If we were trying to do this in L.A., I think we would have been in danger, but because we’re down here, everybody…
Lush: You hear it day in and day out.
Skarsgard: Rhys is like a local anyway. He’s assimilated to this sick town more than any of us.

(The irony of the above question was that the journalist who asked it was actually from the Louisiana area and he had the perfect Southern accent for real, but it made transcribing fun because everyone else spoke in their regular accent.)

Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs opens on September 16.

Read more: Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs, The Set Visit – ComingSoon.net

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