Alexander Skarsgard: ‘Being a sex symbol isn’t important – but I’m not going to pretend I don’t love it!’
The True Blood star talks about his sexiest man awards, secretly loving being a sex symbol, and his days of thinking about sex, sex, sex
Good things have come out of Sweden – ABBA, IKEA, Absolut Vodka. But the
best thing is the godlike humans it produces.
Most notably, Alexander Skarsgård, 38, who is so beautiful, he’s bagged ‘Sweden’s Sexiest Man’ title five times. And topped ‘World’s Sexiest’ lists a good few times too. Which is as official as hotness can get. More of that later.
We meet him in his hotel room (we know, too much) and can call him Alex, he doesn’t mind. He also doesn’t mind where we sit, but as he pats the sofa next to him beckoning us over, we do come over all funny. And go a bit pink.
He’s just as handsome as on the telly, a towering 6ft 4in, he’s dressed smartly, laughs at our giddy, awkward jokes, sips tea during the chat, and we find ourselves smiling at him so much, our cheeks hurt when we leave.
One topic is off limits, and that’s his new relationship with Brit Alexa Chung , 31. But surprisingly, he’s shy, and is loads more comfortable talking about work, as opposed to his good looks. Which is what we mostly want to ask him about.
Alex rose to fame as Eric Northman, the sexy vampire in True Blood , and we can confirm his fangs are perfect. He’s so dreamy he even made us enjoy the questionable film Battleship. He’s set to play Tarzan next year, (one word: loincloth), but for now we can see him in The Diary Of A Teenage Girl.
Alex talks being a boozer, being weird, and being oh-so gorgeous…
How do you display the ridiculous amounts of Sexiest Man awards you’ve won?
I don’t have any awards that I get to touch and keep. They won’t give them to me, I’m really disappointed.
But you won Sweden’s Sexiest Man award five times in a row – and there are a lot of handsome men in Sweden…[Laughs] Every single day I walk up to that mirror and think, five times motherf***er, five times.
Do you think you’re worthy of such a title?
I don’t know. I never Google myself or read blogs, so I don’t really keep track of any of that. I’m not trying to say I don’t care about it, because of course it’s really lovely if someone thinks you’re a good actor or good-looking.
You’re going shy on us…
OK. Well, we are human, so of course we are going to love that kind of title. I’m not trying to pretend I don’t, but it’s not that important at the end of the day.
It wouldn’t do me any good if I was constantly looking at where I end up on that sexy list, or if I slipped down the list and stressed out about why that was. One day you’re popular and the next day you’re not. It’s trivial.
It must have helped that Eric in True Blood was always naked…
It was a steamy show. But you can’t let vanity get in the way of a character. It’s important to play who you feel, however he looks, and not care about if it looks attractive or not.
Do you stay in touch with the True Blood cast?
Yeah. I see Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam) loads. We all stay in touch and I miss them a lot.
Did you have any idea before it started that the show would be so popular?
No. I don’t think you can anticipate that. I was very excited when I got it, but
I had no idea I would like playing a Viking vampire. I mean, no one would have any clue if that was going to work or not.
When did you first realise how much True Blood had changed your life?
It was season two. I had a long wig in season one, so no one really recognised me off-set, even though the show was very successful from the get-go. Then
my character Eric cut his hair and I had all these storylines.
I remember it aired and I went back to Sweden to see my family – it was very relaxed. Then I came back for Comic-Con in San Diego, walked out on stage, and there were 5,000 people in a room screaming at me. I was in shock that whole weekend – it was unbelievable.
Your dad Stellan is a famous actor (he starred in Good Will Hunting, Mamma Mia, Deep Blue Sea). You must have been used to the attention?
He always protected us… He wanted to keep us normal and not invite the media in. He’s still the same way. Although now people always know where you are and what’s going on.
It is what it is, you just have to deal with it. I learnt that young.
Yet you still became an actor?
I was a child actor in Sweden between the ages of six and 13. My dad was an actor, he was friends with a director, and sometimes they needed kids in movies and I was asked. I’d do movies in the summer holidays.
I did one that got some attention when I was 13 and it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like being recognised, which then made me paranoid and insecure. If a girl looked at me I thought, “Oh sh*t, she only recognises me from the movie, she doesn’t actually like me.” It made me an awkward teen.
So I quit acting.
And did something totally different…
I joined the Royal Navy outside Stockholm. Then I went to Leeds Metropolitan University where I had a really good time. I know that seems weird to come to the UK and not go to London, but I wanted to see the real England, and I saw it in Leeds! Lots of pound-a-pint nights, as I’m sure you can imagine. Then I knew I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life.
When you picked acting, was your dad pleased?
You’d think so, but not really! He’s been incredibly supportive. It was a
two-minute conversation when I was 13 where I said, “I don’t want to act any more.” And my dad went, “Well don’t. Do what makes you happy.”
But acting is a really tough job. There are long hours, you travel a lot, you’re away from loved ones for long periods of time, and it’s physically and mentally tough. But it’s incredibly rewarding if you’re passionate about it.
What are the best and worst things about being in your position?
The best is the doors it opens. I don’t have to necessarily say yes to something just because I have to pay my rent. The worst thing would be not being able to keep all things private.
Where do you go to get away from all that?
Back home to Sweden. To see my family and childhood friends, because nothing has really changed there. I love hanging out in the local pub. Our family has been in that neighbourhood for four decades, so even though it’s in Stockholm, it is still like a little community. It’ll always be home.
In The Diary Of A Teenage girl, you play a man who has an affair with his girlfriend’s teenage daughter…
It was interesting to play someone irresponsible. He’s 35, she’s 15 or 16, and at first glance, yes, he seems like a villain, but without condoning what he does, I thought it would be interesting to try to make it emotional and confusing. In certain ways he’s mentally like a teenage boy, even though he’s a grown man.
How were your own teenage years?
Confusing. The dealing with sexuality and thinking you’re weird. Adolescent women are usually depicted in their ivory tower waiting for their knight in shining armour to come and save them. But this film is real. The girl is talking about being horny and thinking about sex. People can relate to that more.
Did you think about sex a lot?
Yes, if you are already feeling weird as a teenager, which I think most of us did, it’s even weirder if you don’t think there’s anything representing you in movies or books. You feel even more ostracised.
I was like, “What the f**k is wrong with me?” All these girls I see in movies are planning their future, but I’m 15 and I’m thinking about sex. What’s wrong with me?
This is an intense film for Kristen Wiig, we’re used to seeing her in comedies…
I know, but she’s unbelievable. She’s really, really good in the movie. It’s a really sad character, and people will be surprised to see her emotional moments. But she’s so versatile, there are comedy moments too.[fblike]