Alex is featured in the August issue of Glamour UK.
Here is the full interview:
Alexander the Great
RIP True Blood. As the camp vamp romp slides into its final season, Alexander Skarsgård talks to Helen Whitaker about trekking with Prince Harry, boozing in Leeds and never passing up a naked photo opportuntity (three cheers for that)
From sitting atop a throne in his ‘fangbanger’ bar, to beating an entrail-splattering path of destruction, Alexander Skarsgård has had as much fun playing True Blood’s 1,000-year-old vampire Eric Northman as viewers have had watching him. “I’ve had a blast since day one,” he says of his, shall we say, morally flexible character. ”I love the way Eric started out as the bad guy on the show, but in Season Two you saw a different side, and the fact that there’s love somewhere deep inside of him. People were like ‘But wait a minute, I’m supposed to hate this guy!”
Alex (FYI, as to whether it’s Alex or Alexander? ”Oh, either one - doesn’t matter”) is speaking from his LA home at around noon, after snatching a few precious hours of sleep. Due to the whole vampires-not-being-able-to-go-out-in-daylight thing, True Blood has meant seven years of night shifts, but three weeks after we speak, and after multiple awards and nominations, the show will wrap for good. ”It’s a very weird feeling,” he says. ”We’re not going on hiatus this time, we’re actually finishing the show.”
As soon as it launched in 2008, True Blood made its imprint on pop culture. Its stars (including Anna Paquin, who at the time was best known for winning an Oscar as a child, for The Piano) were hurled into primetime TV notoriety. Not least because of the show’s proclivity for, ahem, imaginative sex scenes. Human/vampire sex, human/werewolf sex, fairy/vampire sex, vampire/vampire sex…you get the idea. Yes, it was steamy, but it was also progressive (stay with me). So often on screen, a fully clothed man is paired with a naked woman but True Blood has always had an equal opportunities attitude towards nudity. ”It’s almost the other way around,” laughs Alex, “all those naked guys walking around all the time.” He’s not wrong. Our final image of Eric in Season Six was a full frontal as he fled, naked, from the top of a mountain. Co-star Stephen Moyer (who plays Bill Compton) has claimed that it was Alex’s idea to eschew the ‘sack of destiny’ (a modesty pouch). I take it body confidence is not a problem? ”To me not only on True Blood but whatever I do, if it feels gratuitous and stupid, I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it, because it’s like, ‘Why am I running around with no shirt on?’” he explains. ”But if it makes sense, story-wise, of course. If a character is taking a shower, they should be naked. Most people are naked when they’re in the shower, you know! So I have no issues with that now.”
Playing a super-buff, practically indestructible vampire has meant the 6ft 4in actor has had to stay in top-off shape. It also meant he had a head start on his upcoming lead role in the a live-action reboot of Tarzan, although he has been pumping iron to add the requisite bulk. So far, how many times has he done the Tarzan yell? ”Zero, actually!” Not even in the audition? “No, I never had to do that.” Does he want to demonstrate it now? He laughs, “I’ll save it for a very special moment.”
Alexander Johan Hjalmar Skarsgård, 37, “grew up backstage, running around the dramatic theatre in Stockholm” and watching his actor father, Stellan (most famous here for film roles including Mamma Mia! and Thor), perform. It was a bohemian upbringing. ”We had an apartment, in which my mum still lives, in south Stockholm [his parents divorced in 2007], and my cousins lived in the same apartment building,” he says. ”My grandma and grandpa lived across the street, and my other cousins — everyone lived in the same neighborhood, the whole extended family. It would just be these huge dinner parties every night with tons of people, alcohol and food and a lot of wild hippies and artists and anarchists. It was a very eclectic group of people.”
After a stint of national service at 19, Alex decided to study in England. London was the obvious choice, but with a dozen of his Swedish friends already living there, he decided on Leeds Met and threw himself into university life: living in a dodgy student flat (“it was in a basement with no heating and no windows”) and binge-drinking at dubious nightclubs (“There was a place called Majestic that had, like, £1 pints on Tuesdays”). ”I loved it,” he enthuses of his time there. ”The people there are so nice and friendly and hospitable. And I didn’t meet a single Swede in six months, so I definitely got what I wanted.”
It was after this that he landed his breakout role in Zoolander, but it was his portrayal of a tightly wound marine in the critically acclaimed 2008 HBO drama Generation Kill that made audiences sit up and take notice. In the True Blood off-season, he’s been doing predominantly supporting, but varied roles in films such as Lars von Trier’s Melancholia and What Maisie
Knew, alongside Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan. Last summer, he starred in The East with Ellen Page, to whom he became very close. At one point they were rumoured to be dating (actually, as far as we know, he’s single), before Ellen’s brave coming out speech this February. ”I’m extremely proud of her for being so strong and coming out and helping other young girls and guys out there,” says Alex of his good friend today. ”She’s a great inspiration for other people. And the way she did it was so eloquent, so well spoken and she’s so intelligent.”
Just in case you ever doubted his alpha-male credentials (anyone?), last year Alexander took on a charity trek to the South Pole to raise money for the charity Walking With The Wounded, alongside Prince Harry and 12 injured service men and women from the US, UK and Commonwealth. ”I’ve been fascinated by Antarctica since I was a kid, and when this opportunity came up, I desperately wanted it to work out,” he says. ”I was shooting a movie called The Giver in South Africa and fortunately I was able to wrap in time. I went straight to Antarctica for a month. I love just being disconnected like that. The year before, I sailed across the Atlantic. It took three weeks and was kind of a similar experience in the sense of being completely present in the moment. You don’t have your cell phone, no email. It’s very liberating in a way, and a good excuse to not be reachable for a month.”
Photo credit: Petter Nyquist
Originally the three teams were going to race to the Pole, but the punishing conditions meant that the competitive element was quickly abandoned in favour of the teams helping each other finish. ”It you pass out and it’s -40°C, you can get frostbite in seconds,” says Alex. ”It was definitely the right call because some people did get frostbite and had issues with the elevation. The race aspect of it wasn’t important, it was more for motivation and to make it more fun, but the whole point was to make a documentary about these amazing men and women, and for them to tell their stories and to inspire other people. The most important thing was to get all 12 soldiers to the South Pole and we did that.”
Did you ever worry you’d get frostbite when you posed for a teammate’s Instagram photo, naked on a toilet at the South Pole, I ask innocently. He laughs, “Yeah, but it was such a great photo op, I had to do it. I weighed the risk and I felt like it was definitely worth it.” We couldn’t agree more.
Photo credit: Inge Solheim
Article Source: Glamour UK via astoldbykaty’s twit pics, Text: My transcription.
Pics sources: sammycool1986 & kayrebekah instagr.ams (Top 2 pics), Just Jared (cover photo) & astoldbykaty (twit pics of article).