Alexander Skarsgård is an embarrassing creep who tries to coerce girls into partying bare with him in resort suites. Or so it could appear from the model of himself that he performed final 12 months in Donald Glover’s comedy Atlanta. “I’m not saying that I dance round in a leopard-print thong in entrance of ladies I don’t know,” he says. “However I’m additionally not saying that I don’t. That form of factor works rather well when there’s a kernel of fact in it.”
This twinkling, teasing playfulness represents the default setting of the 46-year-old actor. His pure self-deprecation is what makes it so startling when he turns up on display as one other of the brutes and bastards which have turn into his speciality through the years. There was the violently abusive husband in the HBO series Big Little Lies and the violently abusive cop in War on Everyone; a racist in Passing and a rapist within the Straw Dogs remake, in addition to a tragic, moustachioed sleazeball who sleeps together with his companion’s underage daughter in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Eric, the vampire he performed throughout all seven collection of True Blood, was an absolute catch by comparability.
It might even be argued that Skarsgård appears misplaced or imprecise in these roles that don’t provide some darkness to mood his pure sheen. He was ferocious as a mud-caked proto-Hamlet in Robert Eggers’s wild Viking epic The Northman, however because the yodelling vine-swinger in The Legend of Tarzan, there was not one of the standard depth current behind his magnificence. Whereas his character within the new satirical horror Infinity Pool – directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of David – is as much as his disbelieving eyes in self-importance, amorality and rancid privilege.
Skarsgård performs a novelist referred to as James dwelling off the wealth of his spouse, Em (Cleopatra Coleman), and struggling to jot down a second e book six years after his debut. Looking for inspiration, he and Em go to an expensive resort in an unnamed nation. What begins as a taunting comedy in regards to the awfulness of the 1% veers off into extremity when the couple fall in with the hedonistic Gabi (Mia Goth) and her companion, Alban (Jalil Lespert). All it takes for the impressionable James to be hooked by these reprobates is a couple of compliments from Gabi adopted by a intercourse act proven in graphic element. “My job is so exhausting,” the actor says with a smirk.
Cronenberg and Skarsgård are each the sons of proficient males. (Skarsgård’s father is Stellan Skarsgård who, like him, is a part of the Lars von Trier Cinematic Universe.) Director and actor even have a sure placid temperament in frequent. “There’s a politeness to Canadians and Swedes,” says Skarsgård. “Nevertheless it’s all only a fucking facade. Deep down we’re animals. We’re simply excellent at concealing it.” He gestures at me. “Brits too. It’s all down there, although. You possibly can simply open the faucet and let it out. That’s what this film does.”
Even because the movie descends into grotesque horror, Skarsgård stays dedicated to the thought of his character as a present pony with delusions of being a stallion. “James is arm sweet. His spouse buys him all these costly garments. The 2 of them appear to be one thing out of a journey brochure: the proper couple on trip. And he’s making an attempt to play that half whereas wanting additionally to be this critical writer. However he’s not a Charles Bukowski, he’s not tormented and twisted. He isn’t in contact with the darker facet of his character.”
That modifications when James finds himself going through the loss of life penalty after unintentionally killing a neighborhood farmer. He’s assured by the police that there’s a manner out: for a hefty value, a clone of him will be created to take the autumn on his behalf. That is no dumb beast, nevertheless; the sacrificial lamb will possess all his recollections and emotions. It’s going to, in impact, be indistinguishable from him. In a movie that includes express intercourse and violence, there may be nonetheless nothing fairly as unnerving because the second James encounters his personal double because it wakes with a shocked gasp in a vat of purple goo.
“The movie firm gave me a prosthetic of the clone’s face with all that goo spherical it,” he says, shaking his head. “It’s extremely disturbing. What am I meant to do with it? Ought to I simply cling it on the wall? Put it within the fridge?” He determined to go down the sensible joke route. “When I’ve visitors over, I’ll disguise it somewhere else round the home.”
Would he take the clone choice himself, I’m wondering? “100 per cent! I don’t blame James for going to the ATM. Nevertheless it opens up different questions. If the clone retains all his recollections, then how will he ever know that he’s not the clone? Possibly they’re killing the actual James. That fascinated me, and I like that there’s no reply within the film. To throw one other wrench within the works: perhaps James has even been to the island already. Possibly he’s carried out this kind of factor earlier than.”
These questions of authenticity, dilution and duplication are particularly intriguing for an actor who proposed that twisted alternate model of himself in Atlanta, and who claims to endure even now from impostor syndrome. Had you been current in 2008 on the set of Generation Kill, the HBO Iraq warfare mini-series written by the creators of The Wire and shot in Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa, you might need observed him sitting off to at least one facet between takes, quietly totting up figures with a pen and paper. “It was my first large job,” he explains. “I used to be so satisfied they have been going to fireplace me that I began calculating the price of recasting the function as soon as they realised I wasn’t ok. A month or two in, I used to be nonetheless satisfied that each time the cellphone rang, it was my agent saying: ‘Pack your luggage, you’re not chopping it.’ It was solely once we’d carried out some large battle scenes that I knew it could be too costly to exchange me.”
It wasn’t as if he has a historical past of flunking, although there was the job within the Stockholm bakery that he was sacked from on the age of 16. “We have been dipping little biscuits in chocolate for six hours a day in a basement and that was the one factor we acquired to do,” he says pleadingly, as if mounting the case for his defence. “Once you get chocolate in your fingers, it’s tempting to place little stains in your buddy’s white robes. That was a little bit of a meals battle.” He smiles bashfully. Chocolate wouldn’t soften in his mouth.
Just a few years earlier, he had deserted a childhood appearing profession after feeling freaked out by all the eye he acquired. “When individuals recognised me, or I assumed they did, it made me very uncomfortable. I additionally believed every thing I heard about who I used to be. Most individuals at 13 do not know who they’re. I used to be going from a boy to a person, which is a loopy transformation anyway, however to do it whereas being within the highlight was not wholesome. That’s why I didn’t work for eight years.” What might he study now as an actor from his youthful self? “There was lots of pleasure,” he says. “That makes me sound bitter now! However there was one thing harmless and wonderful and wide-eyed. It’s price remembering that it will possibly nonetheless be an enormous foolish recreation.”
His persevering with urge for food for comedy bears this out. He was a riot within the opening episode of On Becoming a God in Central Florida, the place he performed a dope who will get concerned with a pyramid scheme earlier than being eaten by an alligator. (His on-screen spouse was Kirsten Dunst. For additional proof that their marriages by no means finish properly, see Von Trier’s apocalyptic Melancholia.) He additionally goofs round gloriously within the new season of Documentary Now!, through which he stars as a Werner Herzog-esque director capturing an epic within the Urals whereas concurrently showrunning a US community comedy pilot referred to as Bachelor Nanny. “I’ve met Herzog a couple of occasions through the years, however I don’t know if he’s seen this but,” he says, barely sheepishly. “I’m curious to listen to what he thinks.”
It was in actual fact comedy that tempted Skarsgård again to appearing once more in any case these years away. He was on vacation in Los Angeles within the early 00s when his father’s agent steered he check out for an audition. Six weeks later, he was pootling round New York behind a Jeep with Ben Stiller, pouting away fortunately as gormless Swedish model Meekus in Zoolander. Getting that job was such a breeze that he was crestfallen to be knocked again repeatedly in different Hollywood auditions. He returned to Sweden to proceed appearing; one other six years elapsed earlier than Era Kill kickstarted his US profession.
Nowadays, he appears in some way each ubiquitous and considered. He’s on the point of make his directorial debut with The Pack, through which he and Florence Pugh star as documentary makers in Alaska. And he’ll return this month within the fourth and last season of Succession, which reportedly locations even higher emphasis on Skarsgård’s character, the tech bro Lukas Matsson. One other unhealthy boy of types.
“Fairly a couple of of the tasks I’ve chosen cope with the juxtaposition of somebody making an attempt to perform in trendy society whereas additionally coping with that atavistic primal query of who he’s deep down and what occurs when that flares up and might’t be suppressed any longer,” he says. “It’s extremely cathartic to play these roles. Possibly as a result of I’m fairly mellow in my disposition. These darker, extra twisted characters give me a chance to howl that primal scream and let it out, which I not often do in on a regular basis life.”
James in Infinity Pool has his head turned by the tiniest praise; Skarsgård is aware of that, for all his personal protestations about refusing to learn what’s written about him, he’s simply as prone to reward. “I actually don’t learn opinions,” he says. “That mentioned, it’s so good when individuals take pleasure in your work sufficient to return say one thing or take a photograph. I’d favor that to the choice, which is crawling round within the mud for seven months and giving it every thing after which it’s simply … crickets. I like individuals appreciating what I’ve carried out. I’m a useless motherfucker!”