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Skarsgård merrily expands on my sweeping generalisations about the binary nature of his country’s national temperament.
“Swedes are such a civilised, perfect society – at least on the surface,” he explains.
You do the play at night, and rehearse the next one during the day.
You do it six days a week, come home super late, then have a day off, then do it all again.” So the younger Skarsgård would often find himself spending time backstage at, say, the latest Ingmar Bergman production, familiarising himself with the workings of the costume department.
Every week, the whole country would sit down to watch Blackadder in English.” Alexander is, of course, the son of veteran actor Stellan Skarsgård, whose dazzling array of credits include Breaking the Waves, Amistad and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Today he’s the Swedish Robert de Niro, but when Alexander was a child, Stellan was still only a stage actor: “He was in repertory in Stockholm and it was tough.
He fills the room with rangy easy-going charm as he stretches out his long legs, swivelling in a distinctly non-Ikea chair.
Sometimes people need to explode.” He arches his eyebrow – the fabled “Skarsbrow” manoeuvre. People work nine to five all week, and then they go to a football game and fight.
Like my character — cough – like my dad’s character, he’s such a Swede.
On the surface, very proper with a beautiful modern house, a great car, but deep down emotionally and physically in the basement, all this crazy s--- is going on.” Alexander followed in his father’s footsteps when young and became a star at 13 after playing the lead role in a television film, Hunden som log (The Dog That Smiled).
“I’ve dealt with real aliens before, yeah,” he deadpans of his time with Stockholm’s “Säk Jakt”, or “protect and hunt” unit. I was in an anti-sabotage terrorist unit in the archipelago protecting the ships, but never on the big ships.
We definitely don’t have big aircraft carriers in Sweden, so landing on the USS Ronald Reagan in the middle of the Pacific was a pretty humbling experience for me.