Alexander Skarsgård Talks ‘The Northman’

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Alexander Skarsgård at the premiere of 'The Northman.'

Alexander Skarsgård at the Los Angeles premiere of Focus Features’ ‘The Northman.’

Opening in theaters on April 22nd is the new historic action drama ‘The Northman,’ from ‘The Lighthouse’ director Robert Eggers.

The movie stars Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth, a Viking prince on a quest to avenge his father’s (Ethan Hawke) murder.

In addition to Skarsgård and Hawke, the film also features Anya Taylor-Joy (‘Last Night in Soho’), Claes Bang (‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’), Bjork (‘Dancer in the Dark’), Willem Dafoe (‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’), and Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman (‘Aquaman’).

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Alexander Skarsgård about his work on ‘The Northman.’

Alexander Skarsgård The Northman

Alexander Skarsgård promoting Focus Features’ ‘The Northman.’

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about your first reaction to the screenplay when you read it? What were your initial thoughts?

Alexander Skarsgård: I was very excited. I’d been part of the project from the very beginning, so it wasn’t like on most other movies, where you’re sent something and then you start reading it and you’re like, “Oh, this is the story. Okay.” I had met Rob five years ago when we started talking about teaming up and working on a Viking project together.

That was a real privilege to be part of the whole journey. Even before the first draft was done, to be able to have those creative conversations with Rob and with Sjón, his writing partner on the movie, I learned a lot from that. Again, it was a treat that you don’t always have, or very rarely get as an actor.

MF: Your director Robert Eggers mentioned to us that you were a Viking historian even before you signed on to this project. How did that knowledge help you prepare to play this role?

AS: Enthusiasm is very helpful in a creative process because it makes you go deeper and absorb it in a deeper way than if you’re not genuinely excited and thrilled about it. Again, a couple of years before meeting Rob, I had an idea of trying to make a Viking movie. The fact that it came together in this way with such an incredible filmmaker like Rob, I was really over the moon. I couldn’t wait to actually sink my teeth into the material and start working on it, and on the character, and start reading the old Icelandic sagas and books on Norse mythology by different historians and Viking scholars.

I had Neil Price‘s book, “Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings,” which was my go to source for any inspiration or knowledge about the life of a Viking, the world someone like Amleth would’ve existed in, and how he perceived the spiritual world around him, and the relationship he had to the gods. All that stuff was tremendously helpful again, in shaping the character.

MF: Finally, can you talk about working with Robert Eggers and watching him execute his unique vision for this movie?

AS: It’s imperative, and it is 100% historically accurate to Robert. Authenticity is crucial. He does a tremendous amount of research, and basically became a Viking scholar himself in doing research for the movie. He also had four or five Viking historians and archeologists working with him on the screenplay, and on building the sets in order for them to be 100% authentic.

It made my job quite easy as an actor. When you step onto a set that is 100% a Viking village, everything you’re surrounded by is authentic. The clothes you’re wearing are not even remotely anachronistic. Everything is authentic to the time and the place, and that was very helpful.

We wanted it to be a very visceral and an immersive experience for the audience. By throwing ourselves into the mud, literally, and being out there and not shooting it on a comfortable sound stage, but actually be out there in the elements, hopefully you can sense that or feel that when you watch the movie. That was at least the goal.

Alexander Skarsgård in 'The Northman.'

Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic ‘The Northman,’ a Focus Features release. Photo: Aidan Monaghan / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

The Northman

The Northman

“Conquer your fate.”

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R2 hr 17 minApr 22nd, 2022

Prince Amleth is on the verge of becoming a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy’s mother. Two decades later, Amleth is now… Read the Plot

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