Göteborgsposten 1 september 2012
Alexander Skarsgård’s star rises in the heaven of Hollywood. The Hammarby flag decorates the wall at home in Los Angeles. Alexander Skarsgard is more Swedish than ever after all these years in the United States.
TEXT Erik Augustin Palm
To say that it’s been “good” for Alexander Skarsgård on the other side of the Atlantic is somewhat of an understatement. The U.S. entertainment industry’s fascination of the Södermalm-guy seems almost inexhaustible. And he has found himself at home in Los Angeles, where he has lived for more than eight years – the first three were relatively slow. But despite his now raised and comfortable position in La-La Land is Alexander’s homesickness sometimes a little too strong. Like last summer, when he simply went to Sweden on a flying visit:
- It was the first time I went to Sweden for eight months and it was just a weekend, literally. I wanted so incredibly much to go home and that was the only little time I had. If you do not go home sometimes, you end up being an outsider. You miss out on the things that people in Sweden are talking about, what is happening there and what books people read. I want to at least have some sort of controll over what’s happening, so I know what to talk about next time I go home.
Alexander meets his father Stellan quite often in Hollywood, as the elder Skarsgard is over there very often on the job. But his full-time actor brothers Gustaf (31 years) and Bill (22 years) works primarily in Sweden, even if Bill appears in Brit Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina costume drama this winter. The siblings Sam, Eija, Valter and Ossian, and mom My – who is divorced from Stellan and working as alcohol therapist in Stockholm, after having gone through her own alcoholism – must Alexander also visit Sweden to meet. But when that’s not possible he turns to his new “family” in Los Angeles – his friends.
- Most of my friends here are from the U.S. or other European countries. They are from all over the world, but they have become honorary Swedes. I have forced the culture upon them.
Alexander has taken a break from the filming of True Blood’s fifth season to see the GP at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, just a few days after Midsummer. In recent summers, he celebrated Midsummer the Swedish way when he was in Los Angeles. But not this year.
- I hadn’t the time to arrange something this time. I’ve been working too much and my Swedish friends who’s living in Los Angeles all went home. But I was still invited to a couple of dinners in the weekend, where we celebrated by listening to Swedish love songs. Music is great interest, not least at Swedish artists:
- I go to the Coachella Festival here in Southern California every year. Most recently, I saw, for example, First Aid Kit, the absolutely fabulous sister duo from Enskede. They are only around 20 years old and have wonderful voices. Then I usually also go to Way Out West in Gothenburg, which is my favorite festival in Europe. Slottsskogen is like Gothenburg own version of Central Park and the bands that play there is absolutely phenomenal. The festival management has also chosen to keep the size down. It’s not at all like Glastonbury, where they sold 200,000 tickets.
Despite his celebrity status, he will not mind the rock festival crowds.
- No, people tend to be so focused on the artist on stage. But sometimes I’m wearing a cap and when it is dark outside and people are a little drunk, they tend to not notice me.
To keep his Swedish habits in general has become more important every year as the 36-year-old actor has lived in California. The Hammarby flag decorate the wall of the LA home.
- I obviously follow my football team. They lost yesterday, the third time in a row, he sighs. It’s painful. I also keep track of what’s happening at home by reading the Dagens Nyheter on the Web every day. Sweden is such a big part of who I am.
Almost as important to the person that Alexander Skarsgård is today, is his role as the thousand year old Viking vampire Eric Northman in the quality of HBO’s television series True Blood, whose fifth season will premiere at C More, former Canal Plus, next week . Admittedly, he also got a lot of attention for his role as Brad “Iceman” Colbert in Generation Kill from 2008, HBO’s critically acclaimed mini-series about the invasion of Iraq. It resulted in that we, who primarily associated Alexander with his dad, the Swedish soap opera Vita lögner and a number of Swedish films (including Hundtricket and Järngänget), got him to reconsider him to be a great international power. But it was still as a bisexual bloodsucker in the American South that Alexander was able to take the biggest step up the Dream Factory staircase and get roles in films such as Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic drama Melancholia, remake of the thriller Straw Dogs and the big blockbuster movie Battleship.
The intrigues in True Blood is so far into the series almost impossible to count, but a common theme has always been the drama triangle between Eric, the waitress Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). The rivalry between the vampire hunks has beginning to turn to friendship though.
- There has been a lot of fun with that change. For the past four years there has been a constant tug of war in were both have said “Sookie is mine”. It’s a bit of a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid moment where we tease each other as friends. We were actually so excited to be standing on the same side against a common enemy. It became a bit too silly. And Eric has never really hated Bill, but thought that he is young and naive. According to Alexander, Eric has now repressed his love for Sookie.
- After Eric got back his memory in the end of season four and was rejected by Sookie when he told her that he loved her, he punished himself. He is madder at himself than at her and thinks “This is why you have built up an emotional wall around you, because this is the way people behave. They open up to each other and let someone come in, and then stab each other in the heart. This is how painful it is. “And that is exactly why Eric is very cold and distant at the beginning of season five.
Cold and deploring would be extremely inappropriate description of Alexander himself, who combine his star status with a charmingly casual simplicity. It is an attitude that can be recognized even in Alexander’s full-time actor brothers Gustav and Bill – and that is very rare in Hollywood. A lot more than just the people in television, film and media industry would therefore utilize Alexander’s visual qualities. And last summer he became the official face of fashion house Calvin Klein’s new fragrance Encounter. Alexander clearly avoided being associated with a particular brand before. Why now?
- I’ve only done a small fashion thing in the past for the British brand Hickey Freeman. Annie Leibowitz was the photographer then, there for it was a very fun thing to do. After that I got a few offers to be part of larger campaigns, but it has not felt right until now. Calvin Klein is a great fashion houses and the campaign was a team I had worked with before. In addition to that, the theme was a cool way to tell the story. It became very film noir-ish, with much darkness and shadows, just as Fritz Lang and German expressionism in the 20s., I had also done a thing with the model Laura Stone in the Vogue and Calvin Klein have never worked with a male actor for a perfume before, so it was flattering.
In the coming year is Alexander current four films – horror film Hidden, thriller Disconnect and indie dramas The East and What Maisie Knew. Stuffing sausages?
- I squeezed in three of the films in the five months that we are off from True Blood. It was great fun to participate in film productions that was this amazing and different. They make you feel charged when you then go back to play Eric Northman again. Being bound by a television series True Blood has complicated Alexander’s ability to jump into various film roles for short periods. The movie offers are many and the scripts piled high.
- I have been forced to turn down several projects that I really wanted to do, because of scheduling conflicts. But when I’m sitting there with a script in my hand and feel locked because I cannot do it, I have to remind myself exactly what’s making me busy. Well, working with great people, with a great TV series, so I’m pretty lucky. It’s the best job in television. And you cannot do everything. The future is exciting, but uncertain.
- It is difficult to speculate on what I will do in the next two years, but so far I have a lot of fun on True Blood. We are like a family. It really feels like we still have so much to explore creativity wise on the series. It is far from complete and is growing yet. If I felt that the concept was watered down, it would of course be a completely different thing.
Alexander Johan Hjamar Skarsgård, 36, born in Stockholm.
FAMILY: Dad Stellan Skarsgård, mom My Skarsgård, siblings Gustaf, Sam, Bill, Valter Eija och Ossian. Alexander is currently single after a long relationship with actress Kate Bosworth.
LIVES in Los Angeles.
UNDER THE READING LAMP?
- Right now I am reading Henrik Berggren’s biography of Olof Palme,Underbara dagar framför oss. It can probably not be more Swedish than that. He was a fascinating person and it is a very, very good book.
WHAT SWEDISH DISH CAN YOU MAKE?
- I can make meatballs that are really okay.
WHO MAKES YOU LAUGH?
- Stephen Colbert! I love his TV show The Colbert Report.
PLAYING OR WATCHING FOOTBALL?
- I’m terribly bad at playing football, although I think it’s fun. I’m much better at standing in the stands and watch.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE ERIC NORTHMAN TO DIE?
- If he had to die, I would like him to return to Sweden. There is something nice about him being born there a millennium ago, that he has spent in various locations around the world, and then finish everything at home in Sweden again.
YOU HAVE RECENTLY MADE ADVERTISING OF A PERFUME. DO YOU USE IT IN PRIVATE?
- I’m a “less is more” kind of guy. I can feel allergic if people are wearing too much perfume. We all have a natural scent and you should not let the perfume stifle it. It’s the meeting between your own scent and the perfume that becomes interesting.
When Alexander was on vacation in Hollywood over ten years ago, his father Stellan there and filmed. When Stellan’s manager hear that his son was an actor in Sweden, she suggested that Alexander would go to some meetings and auditions. The first thing he did was for the movie Zoolander where he got a role. “I was here on vacation and suddenly I had a Hollywood agent and played in a movie with Ben Stiller” he said in an interview with Café.
It’s not unusual for an actor to eventually try to direct and that’s nothing that Alexander Skarsgård is unfamiliar with: “I’ve done that in Sweden a few times, including the short film To kill a child (2003) and a number commercials. I would like to do this too someday. I do not know if it’s going be a True Blood Episode. We’ll see.”
Alexander Skarsgard suspect that people in Hollywood think he dresses boring. He likes a Nordic style. Straight, pure and simple. Under his jeans he has a tattoo of a small green bird on one leg. Little brother Valter drew the bird when he was seven years old.
Source of translation
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