Alexander Skarsgard in "True Blood" and has a trio of film projects -- including a remake of "Straw Dogs" --on the horizon. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times / June 22, 2011)
By Gina McIntyre, Los Angeles Times
June 22, 2011
Playing an aloof, sexy Viking vampire sheriff on HBO's "True Blood" requires many things of Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard, not least among them a willingness to endure long stretches of night shoots and a commitment to spend at least a certain amount of time in the gym. Anyone who's watched the show, which returns for its fourth season Sunday, knows that virtually every major character is afforded plenty of screen time wearing not much at all.
But every now and again, the hit series, masterminded by Alan Ball and adapted from mystery writer Charlaine Harris' bestselling novels, really takes a turn for the surreal — like in Season 3 when Skarsgard, who plays Eric Northman, and actor Allan Hyde, as Eric's vampire "maker" Godric, were hunting werewolves dressed like SS officers in a World War II era flashback scene.
"We shot that early in the morning after the Golden Globes two years ago," a casual, sunny Skarsgard recalled during an interview this week. "At 7 in the morning, I'm hanging from the ceiling in a Nazi uniform with fangs in [my mouth]. I look over and I see [Allan] there in his Nazi uniform hanging like a puppet. We're about to descend down to kill this wolf, you know? And that was the moment where we just looked at each other like, 'This is what we're doing for a living?'"
This, it would seem, is life at the center of a pop culture juggernaut.
"True Blood" had its premiere in 2008, and by the beginning of its second season, the show about the supernatural travails of telepathic cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) in fictional Bon Temps, La., had grown into a steamy, savvy and very adult answer to the teenage vampire fantasy of "Twilight" with a similarly devoted fan base. An average of 13 million people watched each episode last season (that figure includes multiple airings and on demand views), making it the most popular of HBO's current original series.
Fans, Skarsgard suggested, are seduced by Ball's signature brand of metaphor wrapped in lurid eye-candy.
"It's sexy, it's wild, it's violent, but at the same time, it's grounded and it's about our society," he said.
Like Stephenie Meyer's high-school based romance, "True Blood" developed its own love triangle with the old-fashioned Southern gentleman vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and the moodier Eric vying for Sookie's affections. In real life, Moyer got the girl — he and Paquin married last year — but Skarsgard, son of actor Stellan Skarsgard, has won a following for his chiseled good looks and the swagger and deadpan sense of humor he brings to Eric.
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