“I read the script once a day for however many weeks or months I have before the shoot. It helps me get into the headspace of a character. I discover new things with each read.” – Alexander Skarsgård
Golden Globe Award-winning actor Alexander Skarsgård may be part of the Swedish Skarsgård acting family (he is the son of fellow Golden Globe Award-winning actor Stellan Skarsgård), but he has a view on acting that is completely his own. Speaking with actress Kirsten Dunst (with whom he co-starred in the 2011 film Melancholia) for Interview, Skarsgård details how he initially became an actor and why he takes such a structured approach to reading a script.
Skarsgård explains that his acting debut in the 1984 film Åke and His World was initially an accident. He says, “I was seven, but it wasn’t intentional. My dad’s friend was a director and needed a 7-year-old kid, and he was over at our house, drinking wine with dad and talking. And then he saw this 7-year-old kid run through the room, and was like, ‘What about that kid?’ … It might sound odd, but it wasn’t even something I wanted to do.”
As for his approach to his roles, Skarsgård says that he has a very methodical, but simple process. He says, “It’s quite square and structured. I read the script once a day for however many weeks or months I have before the shoot.”
He continues, referencing The Northman director Robert Eggers and Melancholia director Lars von Trier:
It helps me get into the headspace of a character. I discover new things with each read. I come up with a thousand different ideas and then I eliminate them. Once we get into production, it’s about finding that sweet spot between being prepared but also open to whatever happens when you meet the other actors. It’s being alive and playful and open to discovering things in front of the camera. If I’m not prepared at all, it makes me nervous. The most rewarding days were when I came prepared with a vague idea of how I wanted to play the scene, but I was still open enough to be surprised. And together with the director and the other actors, we discovered something that wasn’t planned and was surprising and exciting for all of us. Rob works in the diametrically opposite way of Lars. Everything is meticulously planned. It’s mostly one single camera, one shot.