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Alexander Skarsgard Interview

London's The Daily Telegraph conducted an interview with True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard, in which it emphasizes that there's much more to the man than fangs.
Notes the Daily Telegraph, "He also starred as Brad 'Iceman' Colbert in Generation Kill, HBO's acclaimed drama series about the US invasion of Iraq. And he is currently shooting Lars von Trier's new sci-fi film Melancholia alongside Kirsten Dunst, John Hurt and Kiefer Sutherland, as well his father, Stellan Skarsgård, best known for his roles in Breaking the Waves and Mamma Mia!. They are filming in Trollhättan - or Trollywood as it is sometimes known - where von Trier has made three previous films.

"...As a young boy he also acted in a number of films, including one, The Dog That Smiled, that brought him stardom at the age of 13. Girls would hang around outside the house. 'It should have been flattering,' he says. 'They came to say "Hi", or get an autograph, but it made me kind of paranoid and very insecure. I didn't like it at all. I wasn't like a Hollywood child actor - "I'm five! I can sing, I can dance, I can act! I wanna be a star!" - the movie I did was because the director was a friend of my dad's. I told my parents, I don't want to do this any more. My dad said, "You have to love it, if you don't feel that way, do the other thing, whatever it is." I'm very grateful that he did that. I would have listened to him if he'd said, "Keep going". I would have tried, and I would have done it for a few more years probably, but I'm absolutely sure I wouldn't be acting today. I would have crashed and burned after a while.' He briefly considered becoming an architect.

"... He [eventually] applied for a theatre course at Marymount Manhattan College in New York by sending them videotapes of himself performing monologues, filmed by his friend. He landed a place on the course and moved to New York in 1997, renting a room in an apartment off Times Square from a flamboyant French-Filipino designer named Rene. But after just six months he flew home to Stockholm. 'I had met this girl in Sweden three weeks before I went to New York. We had this long-distance relationship. We would speak on the phone once or twice a week. She broke up with me because it wasn't working out, and I was heartbroken. I thought, I can't do this, I miss her so much, I've got to go home. 'So I did. I got back and we hung out for a little while, but we were just too young and too different. She was 18 and I was 21. She's a lovely woman but I didn't even know her. I spent six months creating her in my mind.' Skarsgård stayed in Sweden and began to pick up acting jobs there. He starred in soap operas and theatrical productions, as well as films.

"... It wasn't long, though, before he decided to try his luck down perhaps the biggest rabbit hole of them all, and flew out to Hollywood in 2004. 'The industry is very small in Sweden,' he says. 'There are a lot of great young filmmakers coming up now but 10 years ago it was very different. I was fortunate enough to be working, but when I was 28 or 29 and the offers were still "college guy, misunderstood, wants the girl", I just needed something different.' He had had a small role in the 2001 Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander, for which he auditioned while visiting his father, who was filming in New York, but he says reality hit when he arrived in LA. 'I realised that I was number 499 to audition for a small part in a bad horror movie,' he says. 'I read so many bad scripts. I wasn't a snob. I just needed to connect with the character. I didn't leave Sweden for that.' The breakthrough finally came three years ago when he landed the role of Brad Colbert (known as the 'Iceman' because of his ability to stay cool under fire), in the adaptation of Generation Kill, the journalist Evan Wright's book about his experiences as an embedded reporter during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After four auditions, in New York, London and Baltimore, he learnt he had got the part just 36 hours before he had to fly out to Namibia to begin seven months of filming .

"At first he didn't mention to his fellow actors that he had been in the military. 'I didn't want to show up for boot camp being like [puts on jock voice], "Yeah, I know this guys, I was in the Swedish marines for 15 months so I can tell you all about it." 'I was scared, you know. I was the lead of this huge mini-series for HBO, there was a lot of weight on my shoulders. I remember the night before we were supposed to start on day one of the shoot, I was still trying to figure out this whole "Iceman" thing. I didn't have a chance to talk to the real Brad Colbert because he was in England with the SAS at the time. Then Evan Wright played me a short clip from inside the Humvee during a firefight in Iraq. They're being shot at, you can hear bullets ricocheting off the Humvee, and he's talking to the guys, giving orders. I was blown away by how calm he was. It was the last piece of the puzzle.' At around the time he was up for Generation Kill, he had also auditioned for a part in the pilot of True Blood, that of the vampire Bill Compton, eventually won by the British actor Stephen Moyer. 'Everyone read for Bill,' he says. When the series got the go-ahead, they called him in Africa, offering him the part of Eric Northman instead. Is he glad he was offered the role? 'I love Eric,' he says. So how did he manage to get his head around playing a vampire? 'Just not overplay it. Bring it down. I'm a huge fan of all the old vampire movies, Max Schreck in Nosferatu or Béla Lugosi in Dracula. But this guy functions in a human society. He's a club owner. So I wanted to underplay it a bit and make it real. At the same time, I try to find that animalistic quality, and the element of danger.' Inspiration came from a documentary about lions in Africa. 'I was fascinated by the male lion, the way he moved, the confidence. When he just sat down and looked straight at the cameraman, he did absolutely nothing, but for a second you didn't know whether he was going to yawn and fall asleep or pounce. I thought it would be interesting to try to find that.

"You don't show your teeth, you don't say anything, you don't show it. It's the not knowing that's interesting. Anything could happen.' He says that the character of Eric really comes to life in season two. 'After season one, a lot of people said, "Oh, you're the bad guy," but I'd read a couple of the books and I knew that there was a lot more to Eric than first meets the eye. He's more than the evil vampire. He can be very loyal. It's definitely more emotional.' I ask him about becoming a sex symbol. Does he see himself as beautiful? 'I see myself as most people see themselves, you have good days and bad days. I don't think I'm better looking now than I did three years ago.' He is not interested in pretty-guy roles. 'I'm always looking for something that's real and that's got meat on it. I think it's artistic suicide if you're too vain, or if you're afraid to play ugly. I would never fall for that.'"
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