Crave Online met Alexander Skarsgård for a private interview in a Beverly Hills hotel suite. Yes! We’re jealous! (Read the interview and you’ll see why I answered. ;)) Where he gives updates on Tarzan, is happy at least one Skarsgård got to be in Thor and considers Disconnect a pseudo-sequel to Generation Kill.
Check out the interview below;
We met Skarsgård for a private interview in a Beverly Hills hotel suite. Jealous, ladies? He was super articulate about the film’s themes and his upcoming film The East, in which he plays the leader of an eco-terror group, and open about his casting call for Tarzan and history with Thor.
CraveOnline: Was this the character you always went out for or could you have considered any of the leading roles?
Alexander Skarsgård: No, I was involved pretty early on. I think I was the first actor involved. I was blown away by the script. I thought it was so well written and so relevant and interesting, but there was no doubt. It was Derek that I fell in love with, partly because I have some experience. I was in the Royal Navy in Sweden when I was younger, and I also did a miniseries called “Generation Kill” about a platoon of RECON Marines.
When we shot that for seven months in Africa, I got to know a couple of RECON Marines that are now friends of mine. It made me realize how extremely difficult it is to come home to the States after you’ve served overseas and how little help you get. Also, for some of them, like Derek, how you’re so proud you’ve survived the war, so you don’t want to come home and say, “Oh, I need to find a couch so I can talk to a shrink.” Some of them are like, “Come on, I’m a warrior. I’m a hero. I can get through this.”
So Derek can’t even talk to his wife about it. In a way, when I read it, I felt like it was almost like an extension of “Generation Kill” in that the sense that Derek could have been one of Brad Colbert, the character I play on “Generation Kill,” one of his best friends. He could’ve been one of those guys that were out there and now you meet him eight years later and what’s become of him?
You were attached for a while. Does that mean whatever financing or scheduling for the film had to work around your schedule? Because you’re on a TV show that needs you at a set time.
That wasn’t a problem. I had two other films though that were already scheduled. I was shooting a movie called What Maisie Knew in New York and then I was starting another one called The East a month later. But, because of the nature of the film, we could actually block shoot it. We could shoot the stuff with me, Paula and Frank and Michael Nyqvist so that when I wrapped What Maisie Knew on Friday, a couple of days later I was able to start Disconnect and shoot that for three weeks, and then go down to Louisiana to do The East. So it worked out perfectly.
Did you need to know how Derek and Cindy lost their child?
No. No, I think he blamed himself for it. For Derek, coming home, he felt emasculated because he was a warrior, a hero, and then like he said, suddenly he’s a paper pushing grunt in a cubicle surrounded by people he hates and an idiot of a boss who’s just mean to him. He felt that he wasn’t a man anymore. Then Cindy gets pregnant and I think that was a moment where Derek felt like well, wow, I’m going to be a father now. I have a mission. I have a purpose here.
But when they lost James, he blamed himself for that. I think he felt, “It was my fault. I was lost for so many years and then I tried to give my wife a baby and then we lost that and I have nothing now.” That’s why when you meet them in the beginning of the film, they can’t really talk to each other, mostly because of Derek, because he’s so shut down emotionally and he blames himself for it.
In the other storylines, in a lot of scenes, the actors are having chat sessions and acting as the chat session goes on. Paula does that in your storyline. Could you imagine giving a performance like that?
It was so funny watching that because I’ve only seen the film once, up at Santa Barbara Film Festival, and the first time I watch something I’m in is always horrible. Even if I like the film, it’s tough because I’m very self-critical and I dissect my own performance and there are always moments where you’re like, “Ugh, I should’ve done that, I should’ve done this. That was weird. Why’d I do that?”
What was great about this was that I could actually watch the other storylines as a member of the audience, sit back and really enjoy them. I think [director] Henry [Alex Rubin] did a fantastic job with those. I love that there were scenes five, seven, 10 minutes long with no dialogue, with people on their devices, like a phone or an iPad or a computer sending messages back and forth. I just thought it was riveting. It was amazing. You’re in it. You’re there but they’re just sitting in front of a computer.
It used to be so frustrating when films would show chat sessions where people talk to the screen, like no one would ever do. I guess now actors have lived with this technology so long, they know how to act when they’re on a chat.
Right, and it’s nice because it’s so minimalistic in a way because you’re not talking but you’re still reacting to what pops up on your screen, so it’s a little giggle or a little smile or a surprise, whatever it is but it’s very subtle, which is fun.
We see Derek on a poker site briefly, and I imagine when there’s a website in a movie, it’s not a live site. Is that just playback for you?
Yeah, we obviously knew when shooting it, but there was green screen.
Oh, so they didn’t even play a video of the site on your screen?
Well, they created something where I could click it and different cards would come up and stuff, but I wasn’t on a real live online poker site.
When you saw that there was a comedy movie called Identity Thief this year, was it hard to imagine the funny version of that since you did the serious version?
Oh, that’s true. Jason got to do both, didn’t he? I haven’t seen it yet.
Me neither, but I wondered if anyone’s really been through identity theft, could you really joke about it? Because it destroys lives.
Absolutely, but in this case, it almost was a blessing in disguise, wasn’t it? I think that was the moment where Derek, who’s drowning, he’s so lost and so miserable, at that point there was almost no hope that they would find each other again, Derek and Cindy, but I think that was the moment that triggered him. That was like suddenly he had a mission again.
He was a Marine again. He had a reconnaissance job. He was going to go and find this Schumacher guy. I think that in a weird way saved their relationship because he found that energy and that excitement, and Cindy saw that. When they were finally together in the car, they were really together and they actually saw each other for the first time in years without computers or phones or whatever. They were there together physically. That’s how they reconnected.
Are you attached to Tarzan now?
Um… No, I mean, we’ll see what happens. I’m not quite sure yet.
Have you been courting a big franchise role for yourself for a while?
No, no, not at all. It’s all about finding scripts and directors that I’m creatively excited about, be it a small, European art house film like Melancholia or a cool little gritty indie like Disconnect or a huge movie. Whatever it is, it’s always about the script, the character and the director. Am I excited about working with this director and exploring this character? So I don’t really care about other things.
And David Yates is one of those?
He’s arguably one of the greatest directors out there. He’s a phenomenal, very intelligent guy and amazing director. It’s a very, very good script. It’s a really, really good script but it’s also a very big movie, so it’s not super easy to just get a project like that off the ground.
Well, you got really close to playing Thor. Were you able to enjoy Thor and The Avengers after that?
I thought they were awesome. I thought they were really great. At least they got one Skarsgård in them. My dad’s in them. [Laughs] He’s very funny in both films. I thought they were great. Chris [Hemsworth] is awesome. He’s really great. He does a really great job as Thor.
I got to see The East at Sundance and I’m a huge Brit and Zal fan. Did you audition for them or take a meeting with them to get that part?
I feel the same way. I think they’re just amazing, amazing people. We had a blast on that movie and it was actually Fourth of July almost two years ago. I’d read the script and I thought it was brilliant, brilliant. So well written. I thought Another Earth and Sound of My Voice were fantastic films so I just felt like these are definitely people I want to be down in the trenches with and make a movie. I was down in San Diego but drove up to meet with Zal and Brit Fourth of July. We just got together and sat and talked for hours and played around with a couple of scenes and just improvised. That’s how it all started.
There’s a Spin the Bottle scene in the movie. Was that already scripted or did that come out of that meeting?
It came out of that night basically. Zal had an idea obviously because they joined a group of Freegans when they did research for this project and that’s what they did, because they obviously didn’t have television or anything. So they did that often at night, so that was kind of all improvised. We just played around with it and they let the camera role.
And can you believe you’re working on a sixth season of “True Blood?”
We’re halfway through. I’m actually going to set in a couple hours, another night shoot, but I’m working with some of the most talented people in television and a cast and crew that are just like a family now. Like you said, six years is a long time and I’m fortunate to be working with not only very, very skilled actors and crew members, but also good people. It’s still a lot of fun.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one wishing they could meet up with Alex in a hotel room at the Beverly Hills Hotel and/or playing Spin the Bottle with him…right?
I never thought of “Disconnect” as a sequel of Generation Kill before…but he’s right. Sounds like it’s still sounding iffy on whether or not he’ll play Tarzan.
Glad he still enjoys working on True Blood. We enjoy watching him every Sunday in the summer too. Wonder who he was going to work with the night of this interview? Hmmm…
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