Alexander Skarsgård vs. Jonas Åkerlund


By Editors

The star of 'True Blood' and Lars Von Trier's upcoming 'Melancholia' talks with the filmmaker about the Swedish conquest of Hollywood, national differences in etiquette, and why Swedes get so much sex.

Åkerlund: One thing I notice when I've been in Los Angeles and then come back to Sweden is that when I put on the TV and see a naked person, I go, "Whoa." It takes me a little bit of time to convert every time I come back. It's just two different cultures.

Skarsgård: And that always strikes me as weird because parents in the States freak out if their kids see a nipple or a butt cheek, but at the same time they're OK with their kids watching people bash each other's heads in with baseball bats. I notice in interviews in the U.S. all people want to talk about is nudity. You have a half-hour interview, and you spend 25 minutes talking about the nude scenes, and of course, if it makes sense as a scene, I'll do it. I don't even think someone -- some guy who doesn't know any gay people or black people, who may have all these prejudices -- if that guy watches the show and thinks, I really like this character, then you've done something pretty good.

Out: If you had to choose the greatest Swede of all time, who would it be?

Skarsgård: The actor Ernst-Hugo Järegård. He's been such a big inspiration in my life. He played the lead in Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom, the Danish TV series. And that performance was kind of when I knew I wanted to be an actor. It’s just amazing. It's similar to what Ricky Gervais did in The Office -- one of those characters that you just love to hate, or hate to love. You're not sure what it is, but you're just mesmerized.

Out: What's the thing you always miss when you're away from Sweden?

Åkerlund: Two things only: the change of the seasons, which are so extreme in Sweden, and my mom's cooking. Those are the only things I really care about.

Skarsgård: Also, I think part of the reason why there are so many musicians coming out of Sweden is you're encouraged to play an instrument, or to sing and be creative, from a very early age, and it's free. It's a combination of a good school system and the long, dark winters. Because that means people sit in their garages and play music for five months because it's too cold and dark to be outside.

Åkerlund: That's the boning season. [Laughter] And then it's spring, and that's also boning season. And summer's the best boning season.

Skarsgård: And that's also why we're so liberal and so cool with our sexuality -- because we fuck a lot [laughter].

Åkerlund: How much time can you spend playing the drums?

Skarsgård: When you're bored, just have sex.