Alexander Skarsgard discusses “True Blood” and the differences of being an actor in Sweden and Hollywood

"If you're an actor in Sweden, you do drama, you do comedy, you do action, you do film and live theater. You do whatever there is. Vanity is death to an actor."

Alexander Skarsgard is an imposing figure at six feet four, blond and blessed with romantic Viking chiseled good looks that make women swoon and men green with envy. While the True Blood star is not all that famous, he is admired by HBO viewers where he plays 1,000 year old vampire Eric Northman, the “sheriff” of a district in Louisiana. A relatively minor character in season one, Skarsgard’s Northman now threatens to eclipse the nominal romantic leads.

The eldest child of actor Stellan Skarsgård ( Mamma Mia!) the younger Skarsgard grew up with a father who was the only internationally famous actor in the entire country.

“I don’t think I came to acting to compete with my father. But, you know, he wasn’t around as much as normal dads, and seeing his passion…Maybe it was a way to get his attention,” Skarsgård says with a grin that reminds one of his tiny but memorable role as a male model in Zoolander. “I mean, if anything, we’re trying to take care of him. He’s over the hill.”

In True Blood‘s ever expanding ensemble of fairytale folklore creatures, Skarsgard’s character is the only one to display the quality shared by great HBO antiheroes past: genuine unpredictability. Skarsgård’s deadpan delivery makes him the funniest and most frightening of the show’s undead . “He does this thing with his eyes,” says Alan Ball, creator and show-runner. “It’s like they become slightly unfocused and all of a sudden they’re mirrors to this ancient, 1,000-year-old soul.”

Fans rooting for Northman in the explicit love/blood triangle between him,  Anna Paquin’s Sookie Stackhouse and Stephen Moyer’s Bill Compton are surely aware of the extra tension created by Paquin and Moyer’s real-life marriage.
Skarsgard insists, “It’s really clear to Steve and to everybody else what the deal is—which is that Anna is like a sister to me. Those love scenes take quite a bit of acting, actually. A lot of acting.”

Skarsgård’s career is revving up with several wildly dissimilar films on tap: First up Melancholia, which premieres in Cannes and marks the first time the younger Skarsgard works on-camera alongside his Dad; then,  the remake of the classic Sam Peckinpah movie Straw Dogs; and finally there’s next year’s Hollywood imagination gone wild blockbuster Battleship, based on the popular board game .

“Hollywood can be like kids playing marbles on the schoolyard,” the actor says. “Everybody wants the shiny marble until one kid says he doesn’t. Then nobody will touch it. So it’s important that I make good decisions now. ”

Skarsgard adds, “If you’re an actor in Sweden, you do drama, you do comedy, you do action, you do film and live theater. You do whatever there is. Vanity is death to an actor.”

“The nice thing is that as long as I’m doing this TV show, I’ve got fuck-you money,” Skarsgård laughs. “So I can say no to things. I never want to be in a position where I can’t defend why I said yes.”

To read more of the interview, go to:

For more True Blood, check out our interview with Carrie Preston (Arlene)

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