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April 23, 2014

Alexander Skarsgard On His 'True Blood' Menage a Trois

by Mike Ryan, posted Nov 9th 2011 6:30PM
Alexander Skarsgard is well aware that he can't be the scoundrelly yet, at times, amiable, vampire Eric Northman forever. That's not to say that he hasn't enjoyed his time on 'True Blood'; he has, even if that does include filming an occasional ménage à trois with real-life husband and wife Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin. But he also realizes that continuing to play the versions of Eric Northman he's continuously offered -- "without the fangs," he admits -- is, as Skarsgard puts it, "creative suicide." In other words: nothing a Lars von Trier movie won't fix.

Read on for an excerpted Q&A with Skarsgard, and check out the entire conversation over at Moviefone.

You play an extremely popular character on 'True Blood.' A lot of people have played popular characters on television and sometimes it winds up haunting them. Between a Lars von Trier movie and 'Battleship,' is there a plan in place so you're not known as Eric Northman the rest of your life? Or maybe you want to be known as that?
Well [pauses], it's not so much like a career move or a strategy that I have. It's more... I need that. Like, creatively. Of course, after 'True Blood,' I get a lot of scripts that are similar to 'True Blood' or very similar to Eric Northman -- because people want to pigeonhole you. So it's the same character, but in a movie set or whatever. First of all, of course it's not a good career move to do that, because then you become that. You'll get typecast doing that forever. That's creative suicide. But it's also, for me -- I'm not going to do a good job if I do something I've done 25 times before. Because I won't be inspired; I won't be encouraged. There's nothing in that script or in that role that I'll discover. I mean, it's already there, I know what I'm doing. I'll just go there and I'll show up and I'll be whatever I've been for the past 'X' amount of years. So that's why I actively look for guys like Michael in this movie, who is so different than Eric Northman.

Have you been offered other vampire roles?
Not other vampire roles, but definitely a lot of roles that are very similar to Eric Northman, even though they are not vampires -- but kind of the same type. Basically Eric Northman, but without the fangs. Pretty much the same guy.

I'm curious how much input you have in this: During the first season of 'True Blood,' I found Eric a bit frightening, but I feel like there's something more appealing about him in recent seasons -- even when he does something frightening, I still want to be his friend. Maybe it's the hair.
Well, that's what I loved about it. When people watch something, they're lazy. So they want to label the characters. Oh, "the hero." "The girl." "The villain." And they sit back and it's very convenient, you know? And what I loved about Eric -- I always love when it's because life is more complicated than that. In movies, I always love when there's darkness in the protagonist. You know? And there's goodness in the antagonist. When there's more of a grey zone than just black and white. What I love about Eric is that when you meet him, he's introduced as "the villain." And the audience is like, "All right, very well, here's the evil sheriff." But then, after a while, you're like, "Oh, wait a minute, that was kind of nice, why did he do that?" And I love that, that people had to revisit, "Oh, shit, well, actually, maybe he's not just the villain."

But, of course, when people see a vulnerability that he can be weak and sensitive and kind and loyal... it is tough, because you still want him to be dangerous; he's still a predator -- so you can't emasculate him too much.

I know love scenes on set are nothing but professional. But is it at all different when the other two members of the scene are married in real life?
Not really. We're good friends and professional actors. All three of us. So we know what we're doing. And it's like, I love Anna [Paquin] to death, but Steve [Moyer] obviously knows that our friendship is very platonic. So, sometimes it's more awkward if you don't know them. Steve knows that I'm not a threat.

Well, I'd be more like, "Oh, I hope I'm not imposing."
Nah. And Steve was very sweet before we got in to all of that stuff. He said to me, "Dude, I just want you to know that I want you to feel comfortable with this and it's not awkward at all. I love you and I know there's no one I'd rather have doing these scenes with Anna and me because we're friends. It's not awkward at all and I don't want you to hold back because then that's going to be weird. Like, do what you have to do." It was very great of him to say that.

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