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Alexander Skarsgård Has Wanted To Destroy Kong Since He Was A Kid

by : Cameron Frew on : 01 Apr 2021 18:29
Alexander Skarsgård On Wanting To Destroy Kong, The Northman And Going Back To The CinemaPA Images/Warner

Alexander Skarsgård plays one of the mere mortals in Godzilla vs. Kong, but it turns out he has some history with the King. 

If you show people a photo of Skarsgård and ask where they know him from, it’s unlikely you’ll always get the same answer. He’s put his stamp on a number of roles, whether it’s True Blood‘s vampire sheriff, Tarzan himself, Big Little Lies’ terrifying Perry Wright and most recently, he starred as the ‘Dark Man’ in CBS’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand.

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For the latest MonsterVerse outing, he plays Nathan Lind. In the film, he’s a scientist who’s a little sceptical of the beloved movie ape. It turns out, he was holding a grudge in real life too.

Ahead of the titans’ blockbuster face-off, we spoke to Skarsgård about who he’d want to win between the two (the answer is far more impassioned than you’re expecting), his upcoming ‘horrific’ role in Robert Eggers’ The Northman, and returning to the big screen.

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UNILAD: Regardless of the events of the movie, who would you want to win: Godzilla or Kong? 

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Alexander Skarsgård: I would say, going into the movie, I was 100% Godzilla. I was a big fan of Godzilla growing up. So, yeah, Godzilla for sure.

There’s also a history between myself and Kong that’s a bit acrimonious from my childhood. Kong tried to steal my girl. I had a crush on Jessica Lange when I was a kid, from when I saw her in Tootsie. It was the first time I ever had a crush on anyone, I remember watching that movie when I was a kid and I was like, ‘What is going on inside my chest?’ So I’ve had a crush on Jessica since.

Then I saw the 70s version of Kong, in which he courts her. So I was like, ‘Nah nah nah, that’s my girl.’ So going into the movie, I definitely wanted to destroy Kong.

But then, shooting the movie for six months, I kind of grew to love Kong. So, you know, he’s a good guy. After the movie, I’m probably more Team Kong.

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Warner Bros.Warner Bros.

So was that one of your big draws towards the movie; your love of Godzilla and hatred of Kong?

[Laughs] Yeah! I’d been talking to Adam Wingard for years about trying to find something to do together. I love the guy, he’s so talented and such a sweet guy.

I’d been simultaneously been talking to some people at Legendary about trying to find the right project. The timing was just right – I hadn’t done a big action event movie since [The Legend of Tarzan] five years ago. Since then, I’ve worked on more intimate pieces; more character-driven, slightly more cerebral projects. I had an urge, in an almost cathartic way, to just do something more fun, and crazy, and wild, and unpretentious, and just go out and have a good time.

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So when this came up with the right group of people, with Adam and Legendary who are awesome people, and again a chance to work with Godzilla who I was huge fan of, and Kong who I hated [laughs], so I couldn’t say no to that.

Warner Bros.Warner Bros.

What’s your dream role? I know you have The Northman coming up.

The Northman was my dream role, so I’m basically retired now. I’m on my couch in my flip-flops, just chilling.

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We spent six months in Belfast and around Northern Ireland. It was a tough shoot, because we shot during the pandemic, from like last summer through Christmas. But it was a project that I’d been developing and trying to get made for many years. The way it came together was just beyond my wildest imagination.

With Robert Eggers, who’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, directing it and Sjón, this extraordinary Icelandic author, poet and screenwriter who wrote the script, based on this old Norse saga – Prince Amleth of Jutland – which is basically the story that Shakespeare was inspired by when he wrote Hamlet. It’s a classic hardcore revenge story. So yeah, that was my dream role, I’m done.

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Would you say it’s quite brutal, then? Especially considering the director.

Oh yeah. It’s incredibly violent, incredibly intense, and it was very tough to shoot because almost all of the scenes are shot with one single camera move. It’s tough when you have a big Viking battle sequence with like 100 extras, horses and chaos… to shoot that with no cuts is incredibly challenging. So there were long and very, very tough days… but equally, when you finally get that take after 30 tries, it’s like winning the World Cup. It’s the best feeling ever. It was a thrilling experience, but exhausting for sure.

What would you say is your most recognisable role?

It definitely was True Blood for many years. Then I did a couple of indies, and it was still very much True Blood after that. Tarzan got a lot of attention and recognition. Big Little Lies was something I definitely didn’t expect.

It was a great show when I read it, but it’s all about the women – I didn’t think I’d be… you know, it was kind of a side character. I didn’t expect anything to come out of that, so that was a bit surprising that the relationship between my character and Nicole Kidman’s got so much attention and that I became so recognised for that role.

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So are you becoming more interested in lighter roles after playing some… pretty choice characters?

The character on The Northman, he is ultimately the protagonist but it’s a crazy dark character, he does some horrific things in the movie. It’s really, really dark – but then again, it’s a Robert Eggers movie so it’s gonna be dark. We shot Godzilla vs. Kong before The Northman, so yes, absolutely.

Right after Big Little Lies, I did Little Drummer Girl… a likeable character, but a conflicted character in a really dark subject matter about the Palestine-Israel conflict. It was just cathartic to go and do something that was popcorn and fun, but still take it seriously. You have to do it with respect, but again, in a lighter way, an unpretentious way, just go out and have a good time.

I enjoyed playing Nathan because he’s not just the stereotypical hero. He’s kind of a coward, he’s not a tough military dude, he’s ill-equipped for this adventure, which I really enjoyed. He has this weird relationship with Kong, he’s not a fan at the beginning, very sceptical and quite selfish. Ultimately, Nathan is a likeable guy, but there were at least layers there that were fun to play with.

Warner Bros.Warner Bros.

Like you said, it’s a popcorn movie. Are you looking forward to going back to the cinema?

I think that’s partly the reason the trailer got so much attention and love when it dropped. When people watch that, they remember how incredible it is to go to a movie theatre with 300 strangers and sit in a room and just scream, laugh and cry together, to have that experience on a big matinee movie like Godzilla vs. Kong.

I think that really struck a chord, people realised how much they missed that. Now that things are starting to open up, I hope people get the chance to watch it on a big screen with at least some other people in the room, because it’s definitely more fun to do it that way.

If you could choose one movie to see on the big screen with lots of other people, would you go for Godzilla vs. Kong or The Northman?

[Laughs] That’s a tough one. Godzilla vs. Kong would be fun to watch the reaction of the crowd… but probably even more so on The Northman because it’s so visceral and intense, I can’t wait to hide in the dark and watch the audience the first time we screen it to see how they react. It’s incredibly violent and horrific, so that’s going to be an interesting experience I think.

The movie premiere of Godzilla vs. Kong will be available to rent at home from April 1.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Featured, Film and TV