Alexander Skarsgård is featured in the October issue of Swedish Café Magazine. In the article, he is listed as their 2012 International Style Icon. Alex weighs in on his CK Encounter campaign, True Blood and dealing with fame.
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Yes, we know it’s in Swedish…but we have that covered for those of you who don’t speak Swedish!
The translation is below.
Dressed with a Bite [Translation of Alexander in Café, October 2012]
With his distinct sense of style Alexander is an exotic element in the garish Hollywood – a formidable bearer of Swedish fashion in the world.
It’s not easy to get a hold of Alexander Skarsgård. If he’s not in the studio playing a vampire he’s in Vancouver and shooting a feature film. The time left over he spends on the brand “Alexander Skarsgård” – ad campaigns, cover shoots for the world’s most glamorous magazines and charity efforts for his beloved Hammarby IF. His face (and body) can now-a-days be likened to stock rushing up the market.
The fashion houses that want to be associated with the Swede are many, but today only the biggest brands that can afford to buy his services and had he not been so humble he’d probably quote Jay Z’s famous words “I’m not a business man – I’m a business, man”.
“I have two agents, a manager, a publicist, a business manager, a ad/commercial/advertising/publicity agent. So it’s all about finding people you really trust”, Skarsgård says.
He’s in New York to launch Calvin Klein’s new perfume, Encounter, as the campaign is fronted by his face. The theme seems to be mysterious-windswept-woodsman-from-a-dark-land.
“I’d worked with the photographer Steven Klein before, when he shot me for Interview magazine last year. So I knew the creative team behind the pictures was great” he establishes easily.
As Skarsgård is tight lipped when it comes to money, to say the least, I ask Emma Findlay, who is the boss of Independent Talent Brands in London and has tailored similar contracts for stars such as Natalie Portman and Angelina Jolie.
“A star such as Alexander should be earning around seven and ten million Swedish crowns a year on this sort of campaign,” says Findlay.
That the big fashion house should pick Alexander isn’t surprising. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest actors at the moment. Tall, manly and seemingly without a flair for scandals. The companies hiring him don’t have to insure against overdoses or mental illnesses. The Swede’s sense of style has also given him both money and acclaim. He’s been the face of classical brand Hickey Freeman – and last year the magazine GQ appointed him “one of Hollywood’s best dressed stars”.
“It’s really fucking flattering,” he admits. “I’ve never done an campaign like this before. But now I’m here in a hotel room wallpapered with posters of myself…”
Skarsgård often shows up on the red carpet in beautifully tailored suits from designers such as Tom Ford and Burberry. The designers know he’s a good “hanger” for their clothes.
“But my stile is mostly inspired by Scandinavia, it’s such a big part of who I am. It’s not a deliberate choice, it’s my background. I like the minimalistic look when it comes to fashion, architecture and design.”
Any favorite brands?
“Yes, and most of them are Swedish and can be found in LA now! Like Acne, V Ave Shoe Repair, Whyred and Hope. It seems to be going really well for them all too, which is great!”
Thanks to the vampire show True Blood Alexander became a sex symbol in the US – or maybe the entire world. All those bloody sex scenes has given him dedicated teenage fans. As a thirty-six year old, closer to 40 than 30, he’s suddenly been dubbed a hunk.
How does it feel to be a sex symbol?
“Fuck if I know, I don’t really think about it. I just try to find good projects.” He holds his breath for a few seconds before he continues: “The roles I did last year weren’t any “pretty boys” in the slightest. No well groomed fellows in the slightest. I played a bald office worker for example. You have to show you’re an actor before everything else.
Did Hollywood life turn out as you’d imagined it?
No, I mean, I was here for a couple of years without working at all. And that was tough, but I had self confidence and just trusted that my time would come. If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will either. It’s all about having luck and being prepared when it finally does happen. If you keep fighting the opportunity will come.
Speaking of the industry. I’m guessing you have a publicist watching over every single word you say in interview these days?
“I have a publicist, but not with me here in New York. I went by myself. I’m very Swedish that way. And I’m very much my father’s son. I’m uncomfortable by people speaking for me and wiping my mouth. I’m from a different culture. I always show up to shoots and press junkets alone. But of course you need help too. Before I didn’t get why I needed a publicist at all, but then I realized it’s a full time job.”
A couple of weeks later we meet at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly hills, classic ground for the pr-machine in Hollywood. This is where all the world’s journalists are offered little dainty sandwiches and expensive juices (no alcohol!), so that they write something nice of the stars in return. Alexander does most of his interviews here these days, which gives a good indication of his position in the business.
I’m led by a nervous PR-woman from HBO through a long corridor. She manages to drop her schedule two times before we reach the suite and her blush reaches down her neck like flames. This might be another indication of Skarsgårds status. Outside the door is a massive True Blood poster, the very reason for us to meeting today.
I sit down and am quickly joined by Alexander, in this situation most known as the brutal vampire Eric. He, as he said, is not in the company of any publicist – as opposed to his co-star Anna Paquin, who I saw in the corridor earlier surrounded by a posse of people.
The tall Swede’s grey shirt and jeans are a contrast to the room which is decorated in a monotone brown, and seems like just the kind of room you’d go insane in. But it doesn’t seem to bother Skarsgård. It’s stuffy and he gets up to open a window. “Keep going,” he requests.
Besides the new season of True Blood you’ve got a few films going: The East and Disconnect. What other plans do you have for the future of your career?
“I’ve never really had a career plan. It’s so much about inspiration. I have to feel a pull from the character. It’s difficult to say where I’ll be in four years. But I want to try different genres, stuff that’s both dark and hard. That’s what triggers me and gives me energy. The beginning of a process, when you feel that thing in your stomach. That you learn something new from the project and grow with it.”
You’ve bought a house in LA now. Do you think you’ll stay here?
”I don’t know. I don’t know what will happen after True Blood, which is shot here. I’m here in Los Angeles for seven months a year – and travel five. Before I’ve shared a house with someone, or rented something. I stayed at a hotel for five months and then moved in to a friend’s guestroom, but after that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a base somewhere in the world, a home where I could unpack my bags.”
Why do you do so few interviews in the Swedish media?
“It became a bit too much in Sweden for a while. It’s my home country and I try to be very…well I try not to do that much in Sweden.” He becomes silent and looks down at the table. “As a Swede there’s a lot of talk at home. And I don’t need more press in Sweden, they’ll become sick of me (the direct translation is ‘throw up on me’, but there’s not a great English equivalent). People are just like ‘Enough is enough!’. So I’ve been very careful. But it’s not a diss against Sweden, I always talk about it in interviews.”
The famous Law of Jante, you feel that in any way? Maybe around old buddies?
“Not really. It would never be that way. I’ve been in LA eight years now, and I’ve got some amazing friends here. But most of them I’ve met through work and they work in the film industry. My friends back in Sweden are friends I grew up with and they don’t work in Entertainment. One of my best friends is a carpenter, one is unemployed, one is still studying. I like having people around me who just does different things.”
In LA and Hollywood, Skarsgard is part of the close knit “Swedish gang” with Joel Kinnaman, Fares Fares and director Björne Larsson. “They’re some of my best friends, we moved here together and are still really tight. I’m the only one filming in LA and here most of the time though.”
Has something surprised you about being a celebrity?
“No, but someone said: ‘You’re still just as boring now that you’re famous, the only difference is that now people think it’s their fault.’ And it’s actually a lot like that haha: ‘Oh no, he’s bored’, instead of ‘Oh no, he’s boring!’.
This is the fifth season of True Blood. When will you get tired of it?
I was a bit worried about that. When you’re working on a film you read then whole script and can plan ahead. When you shoot a scene you know where it fits and what it will lead to. That was true with Generation Kill too, which was a mini series. But until two weeks ago I didn’t know how season five of True Blood would end. It’s hard in the beginning – how motivated will I be after three, four seasons? But after five I still think it’s fun.
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